We at TSNN can probably speak for a lot of event industry professionals when we say “good riddance 2021!” with perhaps more gusto than in past years (other than the dumpster fire that was 2020, of course).  

While many of us are likely feeling cautiously optimistic about our industry’s recovery given the global health challenges we still face, in the U.S., in-person trade shows have been steadily making a comeback, attendees and exhibitors are wanting to meet face-to-face again, organizations are hiring in droves, and industry professionals are striking a tone of optimism that we haven’t heard since before the pandemic. All this, bolstered by the fact that shows and venues have proven that face-to-face events can be held safely by adhering to strict health and safety protocols, and 2022 may just turn out to be a year of strong recovery…we hope.  

TSNN had the chance to ask several industry leaders what they predict for the exhibitions industry in 2022. Here’s what they believe we can expect to see in the year ahead. 

David DuBois, President and CEO, IAEE:

In 2022, I predict that the exhibitions and events industry will continue doing everything it can to move our recovery from the pandemic forward by successfully executing face-to-face shows. We, as an industry, have adjusted our processes to do our best to ensure the utmost safety for our attendees and exhibitors while keeping a close watch on ongoing developments. While no one can truly predict or guarantee what the coming year will bring, I do know that we are optimistic and determined to get our industry where it needs to be as quickly as possible. 

Nancy Walsh, President, North America, Informa Markets:

I feel strongly that the exhibition and events industry will rebound significantly in 2022, but that it will also evolve to better meet customer needs in a post-pandemic era. We are already seeing exceptional rebook rates for 2022 shows, and I think the hybridization of those shows with digital complements is a natural evolution.  

We piloted what we are calling “Smart Events” this year and will be launching more Smart Events in 2022. Those offer a virtual wrap-around to an in-person event that includes pre-show discovery and planning, digital registration and on-site digital access, data capture and post-show analysis. We’re really offering our customers the experience they’ve come to expect in their day-to-day lives—the option to participate virtually from wherever they are in the world, to connect and discover year-round, and the opportunity for live participants to research buyers and suppliers pre-show to make the most of their experience onsite. A multi-channel approach that leverages the value of physical platforms complemented by digital solutions that create multiple touchpoints for connection and market access throughout the year is the future of our business.