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Empty Stalls: Procurement with no Trade Shows


As at the 28th April, there were 2,539 global trade shows and exhibitions either cancelled or postponed as a result of the Coronavirus. In this article we explore some of the ramifications to Buyers and Sellers as a result of Covid-19. A trade show is an event held to bring together members of a particular industry to display, demonstrate, and discuss their latest products and services. Trade shows globally generated $2.5 trillion worth of business sales in 2017, according to the latest research from the Events Industry Council and Oxford Economics. It also contributed $1.5 trillion to global GDP and employed 26 million people worldwide in 2017.

Many attendees of trade shows fly in to events from overseas. With 50 million people attending trade fairs globally per year, the cancellation of these shows has a significant impact on the airlines industry, hotel & tourism and the price of oil.


As a former Sales professional myself, attending trade shows (with costings for a stall ranging from £500 to in excess of £10,000 for prime, centre patch real estate) presented a great opportunity to network with potential customers and bank as many business cards as possible with a view to following up the initial meet/great with some relationship building activities. God, my feet used to hurt.

I would typically have 20-40 conversations per day, capturing a business each time. One thing I would do was to write on the back on the card I received some note/comment to help me recall their needs/discussion.

Whilst it was great for me to find and identify prospects, 81% of those attending a trade show were also Decision makers or Buyer influencers and likely there to identify potential new Partners.

81% of Trade shows attendees have buying authority

So, with trade shows and conferences cancelled for the best part of the first 3 quarters of 2020, how will this impact buying decisions, strategic direction and objectives, vendor selection and budget spend?

Strategic Objectives

Firms have had to delay the delivery of strategic initiatives as they've been unable to identify, compare and implement suitable solutions to deliver on these objectives. Whilst delivering on the objectives may well be delayed, the current sentiment is that 2021 will be a big year for project delivery and revenue recovery.


92% of trade show attendees say their main reason for attending trade shows is to see new products being featured

Buying Decisions

Often, as part of a Compliance framework, vendor comparison is a crucial tool in the arsenal of a Procurement professional as their ability to research, assess and distinguish between competing suppliers helps to inform their buying decisions.

Industry Knowledge and Thought-leadership

Attending and listening in on Keynote speaker presentations helps to inform Buyers of the latest trends and the direction their markets are heading in.

47% of marketers value the ability to learn more about their industry when going to trade shows.

Budget Allocation & Spend

Covid-19 has hit many firms' bottom line, with budgets being stripped from departments including HR (headcount) and Technology as they fight to stay afloat.

Whilst this is bad news for some larger Suppliers with big ticket offerings, and without access to Trade shows other divisions are looking to develop relationships with SME organisations who can offer a focused, specialist service at competitive, flexible prices.


In Conclusion

Price conscious Buyers are now looking for smart, innovative ways to search, identify access and assess a vast network of SME suppliers cost-effectively to help them achieve their corporate goals and successfully navigate the austatious times ahead whilst delivering on core business goals.


Kaleida International is a B2B marketplace for the SME where we connect Buyers to SME Suppliers by publishing both Public and Private sector Tenders in a sector-personalised central feed. We then go a step further by combining these Tenders with the tenets of professional social marketing content by allowing companies to post engable categorised content that avoids the noise and distraction of social media posts which buries business content.


Thanks for reading and leave your comments or thoughts below.

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