Face-to-face marketing started with trade shows back in 1851 with the first international trade fair. The United States hosted a “rash” of world and state fairs from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The World’s Columbian Exposition (also called the Chicago World’s Fair), was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s “discovery” of the New World. Chicago beat out New York City, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Missouri, for the honor of hosting this world’s fair.The exposition covered more than six hundred acres, featuring nearly two hundred new buildings of European architecture, canals, and lagoons, and people and cultures from around the world Over twenty-seven million people (about half the U.S. population at that time) attended the exposition over the six months it was open. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world’s fairs of the time, and became a symbol of then-emerging American exceptionalism. Entrepreneurs and businesspeople developed their own specialized trade shows after this successful world’s fair. Exhibiting locally manufactured goods in a temporary local or regional marketplace gained increasing popularity over the years.
Trade associations added exhibits to convention programs, and that is how it all began. With exhibiting trends come time limitations by attendees. Traditionally, booth spaces for inline 10x10 and 10x20 sizes are still the most popular sizes and spaces that most new exhibitors gravitate toward, as it is cost effective to start off at one of these sizes. However, it is important to know where you will be exhibiting in each of the trade shows, because each destination has different trade show management rules. For example, most trade show inline booth spaces of this size have restrictions of eight feet in height along the back side of the booth space and ten feet in depth, allowing the back wall area to come forward no more than four feet high from the back wall. If there are exhibiting items that obstruct the view from a neighboring exhibitor, you may be asked to take down such an item or items. However, other shows outside the United States or specialized jewelry shows have restrictions that are more relaxed.
This is why each exhibitor should read the show rules before deciding what to design and build for the exhibit space. Trade show resources are a great way to keep up with the latest exhibiting trends, technology, and information.
Some great resources are:
Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) www.ceir.org
Exhibit Designers & Producers Association (EDPA) www.edpa.com
Exhibitor Magazine www.exhibitoronline.com
Exhibit City News www.exhibitcitynews.com
Exhibit and Events www.exhibit-event.com
International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) www.iaee.com
Trade Show Expo www.trade-show-expo.com
Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) www.tsea.org
Tradeshow Week www.tradeshowweek.com
According to CEIR research reports, attendance is still strong at shows.
- Eighty-two percent of exhibition attendees have buying influence
- Thirty-three percent of attendees do not attend any other exhibition
- Thirty-three percent have not attended the same event the previous year
- Seventy-seven percent of attendees represent a new prospect for exhibiting companies