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What millennials expect from trade fairs

Trade fairs should develop even more strongly into events that you don’t want to miss under any circumstances. This was the result of a survey conducted by EBS University for Economics and Law in cooperation with Messe Frankfurt. Millennials as potential future trade fair participants were asked what they wanted from trade fairs.

In cooperation with Messe Frankfurt, students from the EBS University of Business and Law conducted research into what millennials – and therefore potential future trade fair participants – would like trade fairs to offer in the future. The study found that trade fairs should develop even more pointedly into events that visitors and exhibitors do not want to miss under any circumstances.

In spite of advancing digitalisation and the wide range of possibilities for online communication, millennials still see trade fairs as part of the ideal marketing mix. This is according to a study conducted recently by the EBS University of Business and Law. More than a quarter of respondents stated that access to personal networks was a key factor in visiting trade fairs. As Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, emphasised: “It is very encouraging that, in spite of increasing digitalisation, millennials still value personal interaction, thus validating our business model. Messe Frankfurt’s success has always been founded on its ability to listen to the different target groups and to align their needs with the industry sector in question.”

Roughly half of the millennials surveyed revealed that they had inhibitions about approaching people they did not know at trade fairs. Here, networking events and networking apps make it easier to take the first step towards personal contact.

In order to remain attractive for the millennials target group, study findings suggest that trade fairs should develop into more emotional events that visitors and exhibitors do not wish to miss at any cost. This feeling is termed “FOMO” – Fear Of Missing Out. As Prof Diane Isabelle Robers from the EBS University of Business and Law emphasises: “Exhibitors should harness the FOMO principle – i.e. the fear of missing out – and should design trade fairs in such a way that visitors and exhibitors want to be part of this community at all costs – ideally before, during and after the trade fair”.

High-calibre speakers and the use of virtual and augmented reality are among the programme elements that millennials would like to see at trade fairs. Ideally, these will establish an even stronger emotional bond between visitors and an event, ensuring that they will be there next time as well. The findings of the study also show that interactive events and the size and reputation of the trade fair in question are among the key factors in deciding whether or not to participate.

The study findings can be downloaded here.

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