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Ep 046 – Emerging Trends in Virtual & Live Trade Shows and Events

Never thought 5 months ago we would still be in a place where we didn’t know when live events were going to be back full steam again. Thought a month or two at most, but we were all wrong – and not in a good way. 

So where are we headed? What are the emerging trends in the industry? I’m going to talk about 5 trends I’m seeing – and these are backed by industry research. But before I get to that…

Over the past few months I have had people ask if I was going to continue doing my podcast since Covid wrecked the trade show industry. And I gotta tell you – I wondered that myself at the beginning. Many stopped listening, but many new listeners came around when I started doing more episodes about virtual events and how to get the best results from those. I never stopped because so many depend on trade shows coming back. And I know that live events will come back eventually, and companies are going to need help more than ever doing them right and getting the info on how live events will be changing! 

But the reason Why I do this podcast has not changed from day 1. I saw an opportunity to help companies get better results from their trade shows, conferences and events. I would see exhibitors make the same mistakes over and over at every single show leaving with results far below what they could get. I thought, you know what Jim – these companies could probably double their results if they just knew how to do things better. 

So I created this podcast and continue adding value every week just to help you all. I want to see you win! I don’t ever put out an episode with the intention of giving no value. I’m sure some resonate more than others. But I just want to help!! And right out of the gate I got testimonials of real results coming from the information in the podcast. That is awesome! And now I’m hearing of results coming from virtual events as well.

So I want to ask you 3 quick easy favors.

1.     Let me know how I can help you. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to trade shows or virtual events? What are you struggling with most? Please let me know so I can hit those topics or bring on the best experts to get the answers you need! Search for me (James Cermak) on Facebook, connect, and shoot me a DM! Or email me at

2.     Please share this podcast with others! Who do you know that’s in business that does

3.     Please subscribe!

And if you haven’t gotten my absolutely free Goal Setting Workbook for Trade Shows – get over to my website at and put in your email! Then I’ll email you your guide in 24 hours – just be on the lookout for an email from me!

Ok – so for those of you who have hung with me throughout this crazy journey – thanks! And for those who are just now coming on board, go back and listen to past episodes and learn! Take notes! I have had people say it’s like a Masterclass on Trade Shows. That’s why I say I’m here to help you get your PhD in ROI!

But right now today in August 2020, where are we? Still so many unknowns. It’s really frustrating. Virtual has become the norm for trade shows, conferences and events for right now.

I was listening to an interview yesterday with John Maxwell, one of the world’s top experts on leadership, and he said something that really spoke to me. He said think about being in an unknown place and you have to head home, it’s night, it’s dark and no streetlights. Your headlights on your car will only shine about 300 feet, but that’s enough to get you going. 

In the darkness perfectly describes the industry, and think of Trade Show University as your headlights to get you moving in the right direction!

But how about for the foreseeable future? What trends are emerging? Let me tell you about what I see out there.

1.     Virtual and Hybrid are going to be here for a while.  While in a recent global research study of over 9000 exhibitors and attendees done by research specialists Explori, about 2/3 of companies said event cancellations have had a negative impact on their business mostly because they don’t have the ability to build brand awareness as effective as at live events.  Part of this is because we are still figuring out how to do virtual well, and even the best and coolest new virtual event platforms out there can’t replace face to face connections and interactions.

2.     Social Media connections will be happening sooner – as soon as someone registers for an event

3.     More engagement through Virtual events. As we continue forward, companies will learn that engaging with the attendees is what will bring results. I have talked with multiple companies that held virtual events and webinars and got little or no results. Turns out they held their event and thought their great content would be enough to have people hand them orders. Don’t make that mistake! Learn how to engage people throughout the event for your best chance to make the connections you need which will lead to results.

4.     VR and AR will become more part of virtual and live events – think experiential. One of the best parts of trade shows is getting your product into peoples hands, or getting to have one-on-one conversations on how your service will meet the needs of the attendees. Technology is being rolled out that will allow attendees to experience your offerings either virtually, or without having them handle anything. Think safety!

5.     Live events will be designed with health and safety in mind. Before finding out who’s exhibiting or what cool city the event will be held, or who the keynote speaker is, companies want to know will our people be safe. So you will see mandatory mask wearing, hand sanitizing stations everywhere you look, scheduled expo hall hours so not everyone is hitting the show floor at once, and booths spaced further apart – among other things. Event organizers are working hard right now to get these things in place so live events can come back as soon as possible.

So there you go – 5 emerging trends to keep an eye out for and see how you can take advantage of them to make your events more effective! 

And right now get over to and grab my free Ultimate Guide to Goal setting for Trade shows! Drop your email there and I’ll get your guide to you within 24 hours!!

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay encouraged and be bold using virtual and live events!! See you next time here at Trade Show U!

About the author, Jim

Jim Cermak has over 30 years of exhibiting, planning and working trade shows. As a Professional Trainer, he helps companies transform their results at trade shows, expos, events and conferences.

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