What is a Trade Show: An In-Depth Understanding

For centuries, trade shows have been a crucial sales and marketing medium. Even in the modern-day business, they serve as a great opportunity for brands to showcase their products and services to potential customers, as well as share knowledge and development about industry trends.

Berlin, Germany Trade Show
Source: iStock

The trade show industry allows for a very effective marketing analysis, as you get to discover in real time the edge your competitors have over you.

Having the opportunity to participate in a trade show offers so many benefits, which we will explore in this article. Also, we will answer questions like what is a trade show, and many more.

What is a Trade Show

Associations and organizations of every industry sponsor trade shows and bring key players together to collaborate, get new customers, and learn about trends. So what are trade shows?

A Trade Show Sample
Source: iStock

Trade Show Definition

What is trade show? It’s an exclusive event where businesses (EXHIBITORS) in a particular industry gather to showcase their products and services to potential customers and partners (VISITORS). This event is put together by the industry association (ORGANIZER) and is usually held in large exhibition halls or conference centers (VENUE).

At a trade show, exhibitors set up booths or displays to showcase their products or services. Visitors can visit these booths, learn about the products or services being offered, and engage with the exhibitors. Trade shows are beneficial for B2B businesses, as they get to spread knowledge of their products and interact with prospects in an organized setting that’s designed specially for them and their visitors.

Businesses have the chance to reach a large audience in a relatively short amount of time and promote their brand by speaking to the press. This serves as a cost-effective way to generate leads and increase sales. The attendees are granted access to the best and latest products with special pricing and valuable insights.

The History of Trade Shows

Trade shows have a long history, dating back to medieval Europe, particularly in the Champagne part of France where local merchants would gather to sell their goods. This resulted in the development of merchant capitalism and revival of the economic landscape. 

One of the earliest trade show history highlights was the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, which featured exhibits from countries around the world, showcasing their achievements in industry and technology. The first US tradeshow was the National Export Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1899, which brought together American manufacturers and foreign buyers.

In the 21st century, trade shows have become increasingly common, with focus on specific industries such as technology, manufacturing, healthcare, food, arts, and virtual. There is even a huge calendar of events that remains on rotation in various regions every year. An example is the Trade Shows and Expo in Las Vegas 2023.

The Economic Impact of Trade Shows

A trade show business has three major kinds of economic impacts, which are direct, indirect, and induced impact.

  • Direct Impact: This refers to the value-added contribution to the economy and employment within the industry itself, including the organizing staff, venue staff, etc.
  • Indirect Impact: This refers to the activities and employment that happens in the event and contributes to the economy, such as jobs created at a booth.
  • Induced Impact: This refers to the activities initiated by people who directly or indirectly got employed through the event and spending their incomes on commodities in the wider economy. This creates employment in the industry and transcends to circulation of wealth in the wider environment.

Main Players in a Trade Show

Trade shows involve 4 main players – exhibitors, visitors, organizer, and venue. Each of them perform different roles and responsibilities.

Attendees in a Trade Show
Source: iStock

  • Exhibitors: They are the businesses that participate in the event to showcase their products or services to visitors – that’s probably you. The goal is to generate leads, build relationships with potential customers and partners, and promote their brand.

Exhibitors typically pay a fee to trade show booth design companies for personal space at the event to set up their own displays.

  • Visitors: Visitors are the attendees who come to the tradeshow to learn about the products and services offered by the exhibitors, attend classes, presentations, seminars, and network with people in the industry. Attendees can be industry insiders, potential customers, decision makers, or influencers.
  • Organizer: The organizer is the entity responsible for planning and executing the tradeshow. They are typically a third-party company that specializes in trade show organization and management. They are responsible for securing the venue, coordinating with exhibitors, promoting the event, managing logistics, and ensuring a smooth and successful exhibition for all participants.
  • Venue: It’s the physical location where the trade show takes place. It can be a convention center, exhibition hall, or other large event space.

The venue is responsible for providing the necessary facilities and services, including electricity, internet access, and security, to ensure that the trade show runs smoothly. The organizer ensures that the venue selected has all logistical and operational requirements.

How do Trade Show Work

Trade shows are a full package of programs. Rather than the supposed belief that people just walk round the venue booths discussing how to buy and sell, there are several activities that go on. We prepare a list of events that will provide value to both the exhibitors and attendees.

  • Workshops: These are interactive sessions where everyone can learn about a specific topic or skill related to the industry. Workshops are usually led by experts who are knowledgeable about the topic and can provide hands-on training or instruction. Attendees participate in group discussions, activities, and exercises designed to help them learn and practice new skills.
  • Breakout sessions: These are smaller, more intimate sessions, where groups are formed to delve deeper into certain topics and then return to the bigger group to compare ideas. Breakout sessions are often focused on new trends, emerging technologies, best practices, and other important topics.
  • Speaker presentations: For this program, industry leaders and specialists share their insights, experiences, and perspectives. These sessions are usually held in larger venues and can accommodate many people. Attendees can expect to hear from influential speakers who have years of experience in the industry. Speaker presentations can be informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
  • Media opportunities: Business representatives and other professionals get to meet with journalists, reporters, and other members of the press to discuss new products, services, or trends. This could be in the form of conferences, product demonstrations, or media lounges. 
  • Networking sessions: These are designed to facilitate connections and relationships between industry professionals. These sessions can take the form of roundtable discussions or informal meet-and-greet. Attendees get to converse with new people in the industry, exchange ideas, and build relationships that can transform to new business opportunities, partnerships, or collaborations.
  • Award ceremonies: These are done to recognize individuals with outstanding achievements in the industry. Awards can be given for innovation, design, marketing, or other accomplishments. These ceremonies can be the highlight of the show, offering attendees the opportunity to celebrate their colleagues and peers.

The Benefits of Trade Shows

There are many reasons why trade shows, over the years, continue to serve as a great tool for effective marketing mix. Below are the purpose of trade shows; the benefits they offer.

Trade Show Networking
Source: iStock

Increase Your Brand Awareness

There is no question that events like trade shows are the perfect setting to promote your brand, especially when the audience are top industry professionals and media. You have the golden chance to showcase your business to a large and diverse audience. This brand awareness and visibility leads to increased recognition, trust, and credibility.

Trade shows also provide a platform for you to differentiate yourself from competitors and communicate your brand’s unique value proposition. Allowing key players in the industry to interact with your product or service while you pitch your ideas and company vision to them is one way to outshine competition and take over the market. In fact, this medium can be used to get investors and raise funds to push your business forward.

Get More Prospect Leads

As cited earlier, your presence at the trade show venue gives you the opportunity to interact with people you’ve never seen before, including people you only saw in magazines, media, etc. And they get to meet you and learn of your brand. With this, you have a chance to sell them on your company’s product or service after exhibition. 

By first building conversations with these people, you will know the perfect time to introduce your products and services. In fact, you can gradually lay the conversation to lead to the introduction of your company. 

Exhibit Your Company’s Newest Product or Service

Another purpose of trade shows is the opportunity to showcase your brand’s latest products and services to the audience. This can be an effective way to generate buzz and excitement around a new offering, and to get valuable feedback from potential customers.

Remember that trade shows are specifically for B2B businesses and sometimes, invite only, which means that the list of attendees will be targeted specifically to your company vision. Make the most of this opportunity to advertise your newest product or service, which could as well be the first in the industry. 

Gain Insight Into the Latest Industry Trends

A trade show permits you to take a full overview of your industry, learn about the latest trends and developments. Surrounded by your toughest competitors, but learning from the brightest minds in the industry puts you in a very valuable position you wouldn’t want to miss.

You get the chance to take a walk round the venue, noting what your competitors are doing differently. In fact, you can even act as a customer to get information like pricing and latest features. Learn about the latest market trends by attending professional forums and participating in related events. With this, you can plan out a more powerful marketing strategy that will propel your business success.

Improve Your Team Training and Sales Skills

Another purpose of trade shows is to provide valuable training and development opportunities for your team. This can serve as a fantastic opportunity for your sales team to hone their communication and negotiation skills, and learn how to effectively engage with potential customers.

Additionally, interns and new employees can be taken to trade shows to experience in real time, how the professional market operates, and also to learn from great minds. Team members get to collaborate and work together to achieve common goals, which can strengthen team dynamics and improve overall performance.

Trade Show Cost

Participating in a trade show can be a significant investment for businesses, as there are various costs associated with exhibition at these events. Here are some of the key trade show costs to consider:

  • Booth space: The first is the trade show booth cost, which can vary depending on the location, size, and prestige of the event. Typically, booth rental fees are charged per square foot of space, and can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
  • Booth design and construction: You need to create an attractive and engaging booth to attract visitors, and this can require significant investment in design, construction, and graphics. It is advisable that you contact trade show booth design businesses to create a customized booth that meets their needs.
  • Travel and accommodation: If the trade show is located out of town or overseas, you need to budget for travel and accommodation costs for yourself and representing staff. This can include flights, hotel rooms, meals, and transportation.
  • Marketing and promotions: In order to attract visitors to your company’s booth, you should invest in marketing and promotional materials, such as flyers, brochures, giveaways, and digital advertising.
  • Staffing: Have a budget for a team of staff on hand to manage the booth, engage with visitors, and handle inquiries. This can require additional staffing costs for temporary employees or overtime pay for existing staff.
  • Miscellaneous costs: Other costs to consider may include shipping and handling fees for booth materials, electrical and internet access fees, insurance, and any necessary permits or licenses.

Things to Consider before Choosing a Trade Exhibition

Before considering participating in a trade exhibition, you should take the time to carefully consider a few key factors to ensure you are making an informed decision for the betterment of your company.

A Well-Planning Booth
Source: Aplus Expo

Set Objectives

It’s important to answer some questions and set clear objectives before registering.

Objectives like:

  • What do you hope to achieve by attending?
  • Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, launch a new product? 
  • Do you want to build relationships with potential partners?

By answering these questions and objectives, you can ensure that your investment in the trade show aligns with your business goals and that you have a clear plan for achieving those goals.

Figure out Your Targeting Visitors

It’s also important to consider who your target audience is and whether the trade show is likely to attract that audience. Research the demographics of past attendees and exhibitors to determine if the trade show is a good fit for your business. Consider the size and location of the event, the industry focus, and any special features or attractions that may be of interest to your target visitors.

Consider Budget

Take into account the cost of booth rental, booth design and construction, travel and accommodation, marketing and promotions, staffing, and any other miscellaneous costs. You should also consider the potential return on investment (ROI) and weigh the costs against the potential benefits of attending the trade show.

6 Main Types of Trade Shows

Trade shows are usually grouped according to specific professions and industries. Discussed below are the most popular and active trade shows around the globe.

Exhibitor introduces their products at the show
Source: iStock

Technology Industry Trade Shows

This is one of the earliest exhibitions but it’s immensely taking the wave thanks to its impact in everyday life. This type of trade show provides a platform for companies to present their latest products, services, and solutions to potential customers and partners.

The Technology Industry Trade Show focuses on showcasing and sharing ideas about the latest technological innovations and advancements in various fields, such as software, hardware, telecommunications, consumer electronics, and many more. 

Manufacturing Industry Trade Shows

These are events that bring together companies and professionals in the manufacturing industry to showcase their products, services, production processes, capabilities, etc. Focus could be on specific niche like automotive, aerospace, construction, or textiles.

The Manufacturing Industry Trade Show provides an avenue for manufacturers to deliberate on easy and industry compliant ways to achieve top class production. And through the sessions and presentations, regulatory standards that govern quality production can be established to ensure reliability of products.

Healthcare Industry Trade Shows

These are events that bring together healthcare professionals, manufacturers, distributors, and other stakeholders in the industry. Exhibitors get the opportunity to showcase their latest medical devices, drugs, and technology. Educational sessions, networking opportunities, and discussions on emerging trends and innovations are also highlights of the trade show.

The event may focus on specific areas of healthcare, such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, or healthcare IT. This trade show provides an opportunity for the key players to deliberate on the health concerns of the whole world and how quick and quality care can be administered.

Restaurant & Food Industry Trade Shows

These events bring together brands and professionals in the food and beverage industry to showcase their skills, equipment, newest food, and styles of making meals. At these shows, visitors can sample new food, test out devices, attend educational sessions on industry trends, best practices, and emerging technology

Restaurant & Food Industry Trade Shows may focus on specific areas of the industry, such as equipment, ingredients, or packaging. Presentations about food dieting and hygiene are also organized to educate the industry players about how their actions affect the wellbeing of consumers.

Arts & Crafts Industry Trade Shows

These are exhibitions that are designed to bring artists, crafters, and other creatives together. They get to showcase their work, sell them, and network with other professionals in the field. Participants in these trade shows include professional artists and crafters that draw, paint, mold, sculpt, etc.

Arts & Crafts Industry Trade Shows are focued on topics like different ways to get solid inspiration to be creative, newest and more preferred equipment for better arts & crafts, trending market demands, etc.

Virtual Trade Shows

These are trade shows that take place entirely online. Instead of going to a physical venue, you can access the trade show from the computer or mobile phone. They became increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on movement.

Virtual Trade Shows typically include virtual exhibit halls where visitors can view and interact with virtual booths from exhibitors. These booths can have videos, product demonstrations, and other multimedia content to display the products and services. Visitors can also participate in live chats with exhibitors, attend webinars, workshops, and network with others through online chats or video calls.

Aplus Expo Can Help You Create the Best Exhibition Investment Space

It’s important to choose a reliable construction company like Aplus Expo with years of experience in the exhibition world. Having full knowledge of various trade show requirements, we will put everything in place to ensure your business success.

A booth designed by Aplus Expo
Source: Aplus Expo

Full Expo Solutions Makes You Worry-Free

At Aplus Expo, we offer all-inclusive exhibition services and extra support, including providing custom booth, booth rental, custom trade show exhibits, install & dismantle, trade show storage, transportation & logistics, 3D rendering & concept development, graphics printing, audio-visual equipment rental, and trade show project management. With these, you don’t have to worry about having a perfect setup for your exhibit. We will handle everything to your preference!

On-Site Support & Quick Response

Our staff will be on-site with you before, during, and after the trade show to ensure a reliable setup. This guarantees a professional show preparation, field installation, quick follow-up, spot troubleshooting on-call, convention service coordination, and material handling management. After the event, we help you dismantle the booth and pack up.

Ample Storage Space for Exhibits Rental

We have over 10,000 sq. ft in-house warehouse for extensive and rapid building of your dream booths. All the design and production are done in-house and are tested. As a one-stop solution provider, you can get all the exhibits rental you need from us.


In this article, we’ve discussed everything related to what is a trade show, allowing you to understand how the event works and the benefits. With events like these, your brand gets promoted to places beyond your actual reach, resulting in increased sales and massive business growth.

To get the perfect exhibit setup that will boost your brand and attract attendees to your booth, contact us. We are result-oriented and will provide you the best solutions.

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