The future of trade fairs, post-pandemic. Will fairs become events?

We asked ourselves if the fair could become an event.

The exhibition sector is undergoing major changes, some inherent in the system, others imposed by external circumstances which are often not controllable or predictable. How will the future evolve? As the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic progresses, we realize how many attitudes will have to become entrenched habits: there will be no “end pandemic” in the traditional sense (which would allow to cancel everything that has been in recent months), but it will be necessary to adapt the different industries to the virus.

New behaviors and new habits are becoming part of our lives: the trends that have imposed themselves due to the health emergency will change the way we live and do business .


We photograph the current situation of trade fairs in terms of events.

Today, as we all know, the fairs are completely in lock-down. Is it possible to foresee a restart?
It is possible to think that some sectors, which strictly need to “show business”, can press the accelerator on the trade fair world. By trade fair world we mean the organizers and managers of the trade fair halls.

Certainly we believe it is plausible that the reopening of the fairs (in the strict sense of the term) will take place and also very soon.

This will happen gradually, with all caution, sector by sector. Starting from local and territorial fairs, with limited and controlled accesses, and then gradually provincial and regional fairs and finally we will arrive at national and international exhibitions.
From September to the end of 2021 the trend will be this.
But the international fairs? Is it possible to think that the visitors will really participate in the fair? Take a plane from far away, and come to visit a fair in Europe?
We have asked this question many times, and we have come to a very plausible and simple answer: yes, if and only if the fair will really serve the company’s business.
So, we remove the almost useless travels of image, we remove the fairs where “you have to be present, but they lead nowhere”. You get to trade fairs where you really participate to do business.


The first-pandemic fairs as horizontal containers during an event
Once upon a time there was the fair container of everything and nothing. Do you remember? The organizing body’s goal was to make numbers and numbers, just numbers.

High numbers and accesses in every way, even taking whole school groups on a school trip; or continuing to add pavilions that are almost always half empty with everything that goes around them.
For years we have seen fairs in which it was not clear what products absolutely not related to the fair itself centered and participated in fairs where those who passed in front of the stand were users intent on taking a walk, with no business objective or interest in the category of products on display. .
We believe that this way of doing trade shows certainly does not represent the future of this important and vital sector for companies.
What ideas and hypotheses then?


Fairs as vertical containers for events
We ask you entrepreneurs, who personally have suffered loss of time and money by participating in fairs, which we often hear that you would never again participate in a fair.
Better to have a fair with few stands (in numerical terms), of a single well-defined product sector, few absolute visitors who are 100% interested or participate in a fair where to find you you need a geographical map, with a continuous passage of visitors clearly not interested in anything or little?

Some lived experiences we are sure of will remain only a memory.

At the international plumbing fair we saw hundreds of organized buses of plumbers. But a plumber does not represent a possible direct customer for an industrial company that produces components for this sector. He is only an installer of products that are usually recommended to him by a distribution network in the area.
Today, if you want to leverage the installer, there are a thousand ways and solutions. Example of discount policies and loyalty relationships managed by distributors.

The solution is not to make him walk among thousands of stands, placed there to fill spaces, to make numbers that will be heralded when you purchase the exhibition space.


an exemple:

If you have a company of products for lifting and handling goods, it is sufficient to say that you are inherent in the plumbing sector, for whatever reason, that the organizing body will surely find a position for you. We have seen companies that had nothing to do with participating in fairs of any kind.
The reason is clear and simple. However, attending a fair always brings home contacts. And companies thrive on contacts that can then be transformed into contracts.
We all agree, but those who pay for this horizontal system of fair trade are the companies in the relevant sector, those with the strongest brand, those able to move buyers.
Have you ever wondered if the Bigs didn’t participate? would the fair have the same appeal?

Would it remain an important event or would it be limited to catwalks and then miserably close its doors?
A strong example is the Turin auto show. It was enough that the Volkswagen group did not renew its participation that there was a chorus of non-adhesions, and the closing of the event definitively. A “non-adhesion” was enough for that fair to turn into a Fiat exhibition hall.
So, without pretending to teach those who organize fairs the correct modus operandi, we want to give ideas and advice to get the entire sector started up again.

Some ideas for events at the fair:

  • thecost of participation based on the importance and reputation of the brand. Let’s face it, you participate in a fair because there is a leader in the sector that leads, otherwise the fair would not have the same appeal.
  • A single commodity sector and not thousands as seen for years. Stands of companies closely related to the product sector of interest:
  • Duration of 1 or maximum 2 days to contain expenses and increase the level of business. Go from the current 7 days to set up, 5 to exhibit and 3 to dismantle to the most current half day to set up, 2 to exhibit and half a day to dismantle.
  • Stands with fixed and non-variable dimensions, in order to focus attention on the product to be exhibited and not on the aesthetic quality of the stand. In fact, if you want to do branding, we believe that the fair is not the right place, the operations will have to be other, more profitable and less expensive.
  • Less travel and more on territory . We think it is utopian that operators from all over Italy will be present at a fair in Milan. Better a management with at least 3 squares on the territory, divided by geographical areas North, Center and South.


The consequence?
We will have to organize ourselves, we will have to become more flexible, smarter, less elephantine.
There will be more fairs and events, divided by product sector and geographical areas. Few vertical and relevant products will be exhibited, there will be fewer people at the stand and fewer visitors, but all super interested and relevant to the product category on display.
This verticalization will lead to a complete revolution of trade fairs with an increase in organization also by the participating companies who will have to equip themselves with modular, flexible materials, suitable for any situation and at any time.


the American fair: a possible scenario?

So think of a vertical fair divided by sector, which may last just one day, in small spaces, in small and limited numbers, in congress centers rather than in the dusty sheds of the fair, with a limited number of participants perhaps only on direct call and Invitation?
We believe that this is the way to go and the evolution of fair trade will have multiple facets and opportunities in the coming years.

The most logical consequence is that we will see the birth of thousands of events with different characteristics and targets, distributed throughout the territory.

  • Vertical fairs for targeted and precise product sector
  • Traveling road-shows with scheduled stops on the territory with the fair divided by topic and cat. commodity
  • Local fairs for the citizen, where recruiting, territorial branding and training can be done
  • Events in congress contexts, where a dedicated conference will be the backdrop to the stands
  • Promotion during sporting events

The fair will restart with many more opportunities than before. We are sure of it.


Modularity is essential to address all types of spaces that are assigned from time to time by the fair body.
Among these we point out Fastand, a company from Brescia, specialized in the composition of stands for fairs in kits.

Fastand in fact offers a wide range of accessories and solutions to participate in both trade fair and congress events with standard and even tailor-made solutions. For more information visit some examples of stand fiera ed evento.