We just returned from our first trade show since October 2019: D2P in Uncasville, CT, which took place on June 22-23. The event was targeted at industrial buyers who wanted to meet suppliers of manufactured products. Pre-COVID, the average attendance for this venue was a little below 2,000, with close to 260 exhibitors showcasing their products and services over two days.
This time, we didn’t know what to expect. We had booked our booth way before COVID hit, and hesitantly decided that we weren’t going to give it up even as the show dates kept getting pushed back due to the pandemic.
If you had asked me a year ago if trade shows as we knew them would even exist anymore, I don't think I could honestly answer yes. So when D2P confirmed the show dates and location a couple of months ago, we were faced with a go/no go decision. We listened to our guts and decided to give it a shot, hoping that we would get at least that one very good lead that makes trade show exhibiting worthwhile.
Because nobody knew what attendance would be, we set our expectations very low. In fact, depending upon who we listened to, exhibiting could be a total bust with nobody showing up, or a stampede with everyone wanting to get out of their basements, meet with their peers, find new suppliers and do everything else one does at tradeshows. There were a lot fewer people that thought the latter would be true.
Much to our surprise, we are happy to report that trade shows are back!
Let’s look at the numbers:
- Organizers told us the exhibitor count was limited to ~90% of the previous show’s total 20 months ago, and the number of attendees was also ~90% of the previous total. It was way more than we expected, and it felt normal.
- The biggest surprise was the quality of attendees. Almost everyone had a real need for real stuff we could make, or we knew someone who could. We referred a lot of requests to our network and got a few referrals as well.
It’s difficult to put a number on the quality of leads yet, but we got a solid RFQ in the morning after the first day. We typically don't know if a show was a success or not for about 6 months, but it certainly felt like a worthy endeavor based on past experiences.
The other remarkable observation was the positive attitude on the floor. Some people wore masks, and most didn’t. Either way, no one seemed to mind what each person's personal choice was. It just seemed to work smoothly with no large groups and an even flow of traffic throughout both days. It seems like everyone followed the general health guidance, and handshaking was back to normal... most of the time with a big smile! It was an uplifting sign that proved human interaction is back, and we loved it.
In polling our booth neighbors throughout the show, they agreed with our feeling that the event was much better than we anticipated. In fact, we were feeling so positive that we booked our booth space for the next D2P show on the spot.
See you in Marlborough, MA, on September 29-30.
and set up a time to talk.