Many studies have analyzed why companies attend trade shows. They can be divided as follows:
2. Lead Generation
3. Networking Opportunities/Social Events
4. Market Research
5. Image Development
While the new proposed business has the potential to help companies with lead and sales objectives, it is doubtful that it can replace other benefits of attending conferences such as market research, social and networking opportunities and image development.
Most companies believe that are many non-monetary reasons for attending exhibitions. As previously discussed, gathering market research or networking are extremely difficult to masure. Therefore, there are no "hard and set rules" about how to evaluate trade show effectiveness.
One of the most popular ways exhibitors evaluate trade show effectiveness is to calculate ROI
Jane Lorimer (2005) lists the following three ways of calculating ROI:
• Estimating ROI from collected sales leads
• Projecting ROI from distributor recruitment
• Projecting ROI from sales conversions
Another method to measure trade show effectiveness is by measuring return on objectives (ROO). In many ways, measuring return on objectives can be less tangible and more difficult than measuring ROI since an objective can be anything from “gathering 100 leads with name, address, phone number and buying authority” to “raising brand awareness.” In several studies conducted by many researchers, objective setting has been proven to be an easier and more effective way to measure success than ROI. An analysis of trade show exhibitors showed that the primary guidelines used to measure ROO at trade shows are as follows:
• Lead counts: 58%
• Sales revenue generated: 44%
• Return on Investment (ROI): 40%
• Client contacts: 40%
• Booth traffic: 40%
• Brand awareness: 26%
A common theme among the few availalbe studies is that experienced exhibitors are more likely to show lower levels of satisfaction and have less inclination to pay to attend the same conference yearly. (source: An Examination of the Factors Effecting Tradeshow Exhibitors’ Decisions - Iowa State). A potential business opportunity would be target exhibitors who have attended the same conference for multiple years as they are likely looking at ways to avoid attending the same conference yearly.
One other finding is that conferences in "fun cities" such as Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York always receive positive comments from exhibitors. This is likely due to social aspects. A potential business area to explore would be conferences in less enticing places such as Omaha or Cleveland.
Please note that research compiled is pre Covid-19. The pandemic is likley to change some of these attitudes, but this will not be clear for at least another year.