Covid-19 Effect On Trade Shows And International Expos

Covid-19 Effect On Trade Shows And International Expos
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Trade fairs (trade shows) and expos have been one of the leading marketing method of the business world. They have helped businesses to reach out to potential customers, helped build their brand, forge partnerships, provide education, and so on. The success they brought businesses worldwide is the main reason companies around the world have planned their presentation and invested money in attending these events for many years.

However, things have changed when COVID-19 happened. Every business in the world felt the negative effects of this virus and has faced a lot of challenges. Many businesses were forced to lay-off some or most of their employees and lower the wages to those who stayed at work due to cutting costs. They have also seen a great decrease in their profit and some of them went into loss.

Additionally, a lot of companies lost their chance to promote their business to the target audience on trade shows and expos. It’s because these events aren’t and won’t be held this year. That means, no products selling, no presentation to the public, no partnerships, and no new clients. In other words, the Covid-19 impact on trade shows and businesses is devastating.

The Biggest Trade Shows are in the Biggest Lost

Biggest/famous trade fairs, their usual attendee numbers, company, visitors, etc.

    • Where: Las Vegas Convention Centre, Las Vegas, USA
    • When: January, every year
    • Attendees: 180.000
    • Exhibitors: over 4.400 (gigantic companies like LG, Samsung, Sony, and many tech startups)
    • Speakers: over 1.000
  • CONEXPO-CON/AGG – The biggest construction trade show in the US and one of the biggest trade shows in the world.
    • Where: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA
    • When: Every three years
    • Exhibitors: 2,800 exhibitors
    • Where: Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain
    • When: February, every year
    • Attendees: over 100.000
    • Exhibitors: over 2.400
  • PACK EXPO – The biggest packaging and processing trade show in the world.
    • Where: Several locations.
    • When: Several times a year
    • Attendees: 45,000
    • Exhibitors: 2,500
    • Where: Central Park Mela Ground, Salt Lake, Kolkata, India
    • When: January, every year
    • Attendees: 2.2 million people (in 2018 and growing every year)
    • Exhibitors: 600 stalls and 200 small magazines
    • Where: Olympia London, England
    • When: February and July, every second year
    • Attendees: 17,000
    • Exhibitors: 160 garment and fabric suppliers from 13 countries

Trade Show Facts and Their Importance by Countries

U.S, U.K, and Germany are the 3 leading countries when it comes to organizing trade shows and expos. Their value for businesses is countless and represents a great percent of the economy of these countries.


  • Average attendance (according to statistics from 2018) on each trade show in the U.S. was 4.320.
  • Number of trade shows: around 31,000
  • Events’ revenue: $13.2 billion (2017)
  • Growth of revenue in the third quarter of 2019: 0.6%


  • Average attendance: over 13 million
  • Number of trade shows: 309 (according to
  • Event’s revenue: £11.0 billion


  • Germany is considered the number one location for international trade shows in the world.
  • Number of trade shows: 160-180 international and national trade shows.
  • Exhibitors: 180.000
  • Visitors: 10.000.000
  • Events’ revenue: around €4 billion.

How Covid-19 Changed the Way Trade Shows & Trade Fairs Are Organized?

Covid-19 affected most businesses in the world, especially with canceling the trade shows. As already, mentioned trade shows are one of the most common marketing methods companies use to promote their business and products/services to large audiences coming from all over the world. Canceling trade shows meant deleting the major marketing channels of businesses, which results in less exposure and visibility.

The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) released data that shows the negative impact Covid-19 has on trade shows, either by their postponement or cancellation. Also, there’s data on the negative impact exhibitors feel during this crisis.

According to their data, there will be a tremendous loss in the event industry. As it’s estimated, there will be a loss of $144.9 billion globally, by the end of the second quarter of 2020. Apart from having this loss, a lot of employees hired by the event organizers for these events will lose their jobs. That means, hundreds of thousands of families around the world will stay without part of their monthly income which will lead to an increased percent of poverty on the global level.

Having in mind that the event industry makes a big part of the global economy, there will be negative consequences for it as well. It is estimated that there will be around $8.2 billion of ingenerated global economic output by the end of the second quarter of 2020. As UFI has reported, there will be:

  • USD 23.6 billion and 378,000 FTE jobs for Asia/Pacific,
  • USD 31.1 billion and 257,000 FTE jobs for Europe,
  • USD 31.6 billion and 320,000 FTE jobs for North America.

Additionally, a lot of micro and small businesses will go through a very hard period. Some of them won’t last and will eventually bankrupt due to low or no sales.

However, not all is gone since many companies saw an opportunity in the internet. While some event organizers have postponed their events for several months, others have decided to hold their events online. Yes, thanks to the internet and technological advancement throughout the years, come types of events can be held online. Here are several trade shows and how their organizers have dealt and adapted to the current situation.

  • OCP Summit 2020 – Changed the date and decided to go virtual.
    • Original date: March 4-5
    • New date: May 12-15
  • WAN Summit New York – Postponed without an exact date.
    • Original date: March 9-10
    • New date: TBD
  • Nvidia GTC 2020 – Went digital with limited news, still a lot of content provided to their audience.
    • Change: Going digital/limited news
    • Date: March 24-26

Many other event organizers have made the same changes. Some of them just postponed the date for a month, several months, and even a year. Some have canceled the event and went/will go online by creating virtual trade shows and expos. Others have changed the date and went/will go online.

As it can be noticed, it’s possible to go online for some types of events. But not all of them can do the same. Those who can’t are at a great loss.

But, it doesn’t have to be like that. Although there’s no way to hold the event as planned, there are other ways to boost your visibility and promote your business and products/services to your target audiences and potential partners or other people of interest.

No Nation was Ever Ruined by Trade.

Benjamin Franklin

Alternative International Marketing Methods

Trade shows and expos are undoubtedly one of the best ways for businesses to get exposed in front of large audiences. But due to the whole Covid-19 situation, they have been canceled or adjusted to go online. Yet, not all trade shows and expos can be done that way because of the type of products presented and the way they are made. That’s why two other marketing methods emerged and have become popular: online expo startups and global SEO.

don't panic invest on global seo

Offline Expo is Not Possible, Let’s Go to Online Expo 

Online (virtual) expo platforms or software are an emerging trend in the world. These software and platforms allow event organizers to hold a trade show or expo online, providing the attendees with a virtual real-life experience. Hence, they allow companies to present their products online to the attendees/potential customers.

There are many online expo websites, such as HEXAFAIR, vFAIRS, Communiqué, and QooVee, which try to replace the traditional face-to-face (venue) event with a digital one. They try to fill the gap in the event industry by holding virtual trade shows and expos. As you have seen previously, many event organizers went digital to adapt to the current situation and prevent a bigger loss of profit and clients.

Although these websites try hard to provide real-life experience and succeed in that, a lot of companies can’t afford to use them due to cost-cutting. As a company, you have to pay for using that platform (website) and attending the event. It’s the same when attending a real-life trade show. However, due to Covid-19, a lot of companies (especially the smaller ones) have faced great loss, low or not sales, and were forced to cut costs wherever possible. As a result, they can’t afford to pay the cost for using these platforms and for exhibiting their products.

Another issue that arises with online expo platforms, apart from the cost, is that companies already invest in their website. Almost every business now has a website where they provide information about the company to the visitors and show their products. Moreover, many of them have an e-commerce shop feature integrated on their website, so they can sell their products directly to their customers. Additionally, companies have digital marketing experts in their team who are responsible for creating high-conversion marketing campaigns and ads.

As you can see, companies already have costs they cannot cut, or they will lose everything they have worked for throughout the years. In this economic crisis when all events are canceled and many countries around the globe are in lockdown, online shopping has drastically increased. Therefore, they can’t afford to lose their marketing digital experts for the sake of attending a virtual trade show or expo.

So, what can they do to get discovered by the international audience? They can focus on promoting their website. They can do that by using global SEO.

Global SEO

Global SEO can work magic for your business in these hard times. Why? Because it optimizes your website for a worldwide audience, thus increasing your exposure to your target of people. Employing global SEO practices will bring your business closer to the audience as it optimizes your content for different languages and regions, in that way ensuring your website pops up in the search result of people from different countries.

Did you know that only one-seventh of the world population speaks English? That means over 6 billion people won’t get the message if you optimize your website only for English speakers or people who use Google in English. 

Types of International Websites?

International websites work by implementing two methods: multilingual targeting and international geotargeting.

Multilingual targeting – This means global SEO makes one or more alternative versions of your website in another language. It’s like translating the content on your website on another language. But instead of using unreliable artificial translation tools like Google Translate, you have a different version of your website in several languages, each having a different URL and tag. For instance, if you have an Italian version of your website, it will use “” or “” or “”. 

International geotargeting – This means your website will have an alternative version(s) based on the region. This method is different from the previous one because your website won’t have versions in different languages; hence, your content won’t be translated into other languages. Instead, you will have your default English website with alternatives for several countries. For instance, you can have a website alternative in the UK (en-gb) and a American alternative in the U.S. (en-us) and Australia (en-au). In that way, search engines will show your website in the results in a version suitable to the user’s location.

In other words, global (international) SEO can increase the visibility of your website by employing methods that will either make your website available in other languages by translating its content or will make alternative versions for different regions around the world. Regardless of which method it uses, your website will be seen by users who don’t use English (the main language websites use) or the language of your website. In any case, it’s a win-win situation for you and your business.

Why Invest in Global SEO?

Global SEO not only will boost your website to the international audience but will also save you money. Of course, you need to invest some amount but it’s not a big one since all you have to do is hire an international SEO agency who will be responsible for creating website content that is optimized for search engines, thus ranking in the top search results people get when they look for products/services as you offer. Plus, global SEO, unlike trade shows and expos, will ensure your website (with that your business) is found globally at any time, all the time.

Always invest for the long term.

Warren Buffett