Monthly Archives: February 2013

Why the Internet Can’t Kill the Trade Show

There’s no denying that we live in a digital world.   Without e-mail and the internet, it would be impossible to do as much as we all do in a typical workday.    In a world that is increasingly virtual, is there a future for face to face meetings and trade show exhibits?

As dependent as we are on technology, humans still want to interact with other humans.  There is no substitute for looking people in they eye, shaking their hands and greeting them sincerely.  Recent research has shown that virtual contact cannot compete when it comes to face-to-face interaction.


The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) performed a study investigating the role that face-to-face interactions play in customer perception and decision-making. 

  • Overwhelmingly, trade show attendees preferred face to face interactions with 77% choosing it over 10 other options including sales calls, annual meetings and educational conferences.
  • These people prefer their face-to-face interactions to be at a trade show, as well.  48% listed an exhibition setting as their preferred location.
  • More than 65% feel that face-to-face interactions are very important while considering and researching purchases.
  • 71% consider face-to-face interactions vital to the post-purchase relationship with a vendor.


Researchers at Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research delved into this a little further to see why.  They identified three main reasons that face-to-face interaction is optimal.

  • Fewer distractions at a trade show mean the exhibitors are the main attraction.  The lure of e-mail, work and the internet won’t pull attention away from your message.
  • Social interaction with ones peers is more rewarding than electronic communications.  People attend trade shows to associate with people they know and to meet new people in the industry.
  • Face to face interactions create a stronger emotional bond between people which will be reinforced with every subsequent interaction, whether in person or via technology.


These observations are borne out by the perceptions of marketers and trade show exhibitors according to a study conducted by the research company FaceTime.

  • 80% of marketers consider trade shows and other face-to-face interactions as the most effective way to reach customers and therefore deliver the highest ROI.
  • 90% feel that buyers have more trust in someone they can shake hands with than someone communicated with by e-mail or phone.
  • 80% believe that customers spend more money with companies that they have personally interacted with.


There is some science behind why face-to-face interactions are preferred.   A whitepaper by Dr. Richard D. Arvey details five reasons in person meetings are important.

  • Both verbal and non-verbal communications are vital to communicating your message and non-verbal cues cannot be perceived over the phone or e-mail.
  • Trust is developed more easily when meeting face to face and you can look someone in the eye.
  • In person contact allows you to evaluate the other person’s competency, integrity and skills.
  • Strong social relationships are easier to forge when face to face.
  • Interaction with a group fosters a connection and a sense of belonging.


It’s clear that the importance of in person interactions and trade shows is not diminishing.  Loran Associates has the exhibit design and fabrication experience to create a trade show display to make your face-to-face contact even more powerful.