Trade Show, Fair or Exhibition? (part 1)

And to top it up, there is also the word Expo.

The question is – are there any material differences between those? Or maybe these are all the same events, only that there is more than one description to it?

In theory, different words are meant to describe different types of events.

Trade Show, as name implies, is an event where companies in a specific industry gather to showcase and demonstrate their new products and services. In general Trade Shows are business-to-business (B2B) type of events; they are not open to the public and are meant to be attended by company representatives, industry officials and (of course!) press. Usually Trade Shows are organized and sponsored by trade associations for specific industries, so they are perfect networking platforms for industry professionals.

Trade Fair, on the other hand, is more business-to-client or customer (not only consumer!) type of event. Companies gather not only to showcase their products and services, but also to sell and market them. Trade fairs (or simply Fairs) are open to anyone interested and can cover a few industries at the same time. They tend to take place over 3-5 days, sometimes even longer.

Exhibition has the least of sales element in it; the primary objective is to showcase products and services. Usually exhibitions cover one industry at a time and are geared towards building general image of a company/brand.

Expo, or Exposition, is somewhere in the middle between a Trade Show and an Exhibition. Expo is open to the public, but focuses very much on business networking as well, especially export opportunities. Expositions are very large scale events, usually international and covering many industries; they may have Government support and a lot of Government organisations as exhibitors.

In practice, all of those types blend into one and differences – if they still exist – may be very hard to notice. Nowadays it would be very hard to find a Trade Show which is not open to the public, or a Trade Fair without a “trade day”, when only industry professionals and media are allowed to attend. The same can be said about focus on export: although traditionally attributed to Expos, it is hard to imagine any Trade Show or Fair where participants would not be interested in finding clients from abroad.

In addition, some people, companies or even countries prefer one term over the other. For example, the term “Trade Show” is very popular in the US, whereas “Trade Fair” is traditionally more the UK term.

We have chosen to use the term Trade Show, because we think it combines two most important elements in any of such events – Trade, which includes sales, new contacts and making business overall, and Show, which covers all marketing and PR.

We are here to help you with all aspects of public relations and overall presentation of your company at German trade shows – take a look at our service list here or contact us to discuss your requirements.

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