Physical Business Events are Still The Future

Is it fair to say that physical events are going through an existential crisis? 

Here’s what some people are saying:

Trade shows are a waste of money.”

“We are now at the end of the conference era.” 

At the same time, not only do we find that conferences and exhibitions are still around, but these business events are actually a great contributor to the global economy, generating over 1 trillion USD in direct spending worldwide, and involving over 1.5 billion people across 180 countries.   

In fact, beyond business events, consumer events are seeing interesting growth as well. Millennials are spending more on live experiences today rather than buying goods. Prices of concert tickets are going sky high, but people are still paying

In today’s world, where pretty much everything is digital and online, and where businesses are having to spend increasingly more on online marketing channels, nothing seems to beat face to face meetings.

It is true that today you can find almost any information online. You can find almost any product online. You can find information about any business partner or supplier online. But yet, putting a face to somebody is still what drives trust and hence the business. 

And that is probably the reason why business events are not going anywhere despite what might be said. 

Trade show formats have not changed for decades, as I pointed out. The bad news is that it may never actually evolve from the current booth space selling model! The good news, for some, is that this is a business model that is here to stay. 

And the main reason that I foresee, trade shows are not going to evolve (from its intrinsic format) is because of FOMO(That’s right the Fear of Missing Out).

Why does a company like Google need to exhibit at a FinTech trade show? Is it to generate leads? Network with people? Have more branding exposure?

Does Google really need those from a trade show? In fact, large companies these days, do not even send their staff at the booths. Rather they engage a third party planner to take care of the booth and traffic during the event days. Big brands still participate in large events because their competitors are there. 

Business events are here to stay. But the status quo won’t help. The next challenge is how does an event live on. A conference could run over two days. And over those days, it’s a community of people with common interests that have come together, chatted, exchanged ideas, forged business relationships, and probably had fun along. What happens for the rest of the 363 days? 

How can you transform your business event to be a catalyst for community building?

This blog post is part of a series about the opinions that we hold at GEVME. They originate from an article that our CEO Veemal Gungadin posted on LinkedIn. You can find all the blog posts from the series here

About the author: Veemal Gungadin is the CEO of GEVME and also holds the position of Vice President for Digital & Innovation at SACEOS, Singapore’s Business Events Trade Association. He is also an investor in innovative startups and a public speaker on the topic of digital transformation in the business events industry”.