The COVID-19 virus may have provided a future view to the trade show industry. The global health crisis has caused hundreds of conferences, meetings, and trade shows to be postponed or cancelled this year. As a result of CDC social distance guidelines, the traditional in person conference may be changed forever. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), announced recently that their annual Trucking Safety Summit will be configured to a virtual meeting through GoToWebinar. Many others will be utilizing technology as the alternative method to communicate ideas, stay connected with members, and enable vendors to present their products and services by way of the computer screen.
The major benefit lost with virtual trade shows, is the in person interaction and connection with others in the same industry. The ability to build relationships with key vendors and others is certainly difficult, if not impossible to do in a virtual conference setting. A major advantage to the virtual setting is the substantial cost reduction by not having transportation, hotels, meals, and other expenses incurred by employees being away from the office attending a conference.
The uncertainty of how long the current pandemic will affect businesses and the trade show industry is yet to be determined. The necessity to improvise in 2020 by creating new alternatives and the future look of traditional trade shows, and national or regional meeting may be changed forever.