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A Bit About: Trade Show Industry Trends circa 2022

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Savannah Jones 0:03

Hi, welcome to the podcast that's brought to you by Parabit Systems. I'm your host Savannah and we're going to be talking with Robert Iraggi today Business Development at Parabit. And today we're going to be discussing the changes and developments in the Trade show Industry. And, Robert, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate it. I'm really excited to hear about trade shows, because we've gone a couple years without trade shows where we're jumping back into it.

Robert Iraggi 0:28

Thank you very much, Savannah, yes, I lived through the '08, '09 economic downturn, when big companies stopped going to trade shows for a couple of years. And then all of a sudden in 2010 and beyond, they started going back. So it's a very, very, very resilient industry that is very relevant. And it's near and dear to my heart. I've been going to them since 1998.

Savannah Jones 0:48

Robert wanted to go ahead and let's talk about your experience with trade shows so far this year, opposed to previous years.

Robert Iraggi 0:56

Well we're not back from pre-pandemic levels yet Savannah, it's still a work in progress. I think people feel more comfortable with the mask initiatives and with touching people's hands, fist pumping, whatever it may be, there's been a lot of little idiosyncrasies that have come to the market because of changes in cultures and stuff because of the pandemic. But I think it's definitely definitely on the way back. You know, trade shows are super functional, you're putting buyers and sellers in the same room. And instead of traveling to 50 different cities to see 50 different buyers and sellers, you can go to one city at one time, have a good time, have dinner with a client and see different things as the time goes on. So I think we're getting back we're not exactly where we were before. But I think there's going to be a huge evolution as well. We know that the virtual tradeshow did not work, we tried it, we did our best with it, it just was not something that was going to ever really be something that was going to make a dent in what we know as the trade show culture. So I'm excited to say that things are coming on its way back. But as far as it being exactly back, it's not there.

Savannah Jones 1:59

So let's talk a little bit about the virtual. What was the problem there? Why didn't that take off? And why isn't that continuing?

Robert Iraggi 2:07

I worked for a trade show for a very long time, there was all kinds of expensive software that let you as an avatar, go to a trade show and see things it was super, super cool. But it was really, really, really expensive. And the same way that a quote unquote print magazine and a digital magazine are different, they're not viewed the same way. It's the exact same thing with a trade show. You know a trade show, you need to be there, within touch, feel, whether it's commercial, AV or security or anything where you have to hear, touch and feel a product, not the same on a video screen. And I think that that can be a very, very good thing as a filler going forward. I think that a trade show, a lot of the times industry is say oh two trade shows in one industry is too much if the same show was doing it. Maybe they have one a year and they do a monthly or every three or four months, some kind of a symposium in the middle by integrating different technologies with digital technology, and seeing where it is. But it's never going to take the place of an in-person show, touching, feeling seeing your client. It's a wonderful thing.

Savannah Jones 3:06

So it was a new venture, the virtual and that was an absolute necessity. And so how have you guys implemented new techniques and the things that you needed to do to get up to speed after the pandemic? Like what does that look like? How have things evolved?

Robert Iraggi 3:22

I think people that are going to shows now, it used to be just like an automatic thing. Oh, it's the show of the biggest show of the industry, we have to go we have to be there, not the case any longer. I mean, a lot of the times if you have a big job and you're an integrator, you're going to a show you're probably going to do that job because you're making money rather than spending money on learning about new products and everything else. But I think that we're seeing a very good mix of quality over quantity. And I think any trade show exhibitor will take that any day of the week. You'd rather have 10 very good leads than 100 not so good leads. You want buyers to see your latest products, and you need a reason to go to the show, you need a reason to go there to go into a booth to check out a product or products. And I think that the emphasis is still on making the show current, making it an exciting place to be and making each booth a place to stop by and as an exhibitor, I think you have to do that. And keep the people engaged in everything else. It's also a blend of people that are coming to see who you are and other people that are pre-scheduling meetings, saying that I know that Parabit is going to be at the show, I can't wait to see them. That kind of thing, or what's next for Parabit. Let's go and check out their booth and see what's next. And I think it's a good thing for the industry will make an add value and add technology and products that people can use.

Savannah Jones 4:35

Well, having attended shows in the past as an attendee versus now where you're primarily exhibiting what are some of the biggest ways to draw people towards a booth.

Robert Iraggi 4:45

I think it doesn't matter size they say and we say size matters. I don't think it does. You know, I've been to booths that are humongous in size and they had nothing going on. It's like okay, it's a big space. Got a nice little coffee bar but with what's really there what's the meat and potatoes? People going shows nowadays to get educated, to see people, to learn about things. You can have a 10 by 10 and make it engaging. I know that our last show we had a pylon with all the different things that we did in that booth. With technology, it was very, very engaging and interesting. And I think people, you know, they'd like the premiums too, the free hats and everything else, that's a way of drawing people in. We always have a phone charger in our booth, which is wonderful. You need to charge to plug in your phone. And while you're plugging in your phone for 15 minutes, check out the new products that we have here on our booth. And I think other companies can definitely learn from the fact that you know, you're at the show, you may be a big name and an important name, but you also have to provide value and a reason for people to stop in, come and say hi, and see what's new. Because a lot of the times the new companies are the ones that get the most play because people are curious, what's new, who's who is this company? What do they do. And I think it's also a delicate balance of showing just enough in your booth to get people interested without giving away everything, because then they can see everything before they even walk in, they may not walk in. But if it looks interesting, and it looks like fun, they're going to come in and say hi.

Savannah Jones 6:04

So you're saying having something physical in the booth is a draw, do it.

Robert Iraggi 6:07

I think absolutely. I mean, I've, I've gone to shows that in industries where they have one show once a year, and you know what, it's the one time you can showcase your products. I've had people put prototypes under big glass cases and saying, you know, it doesn't work yet. But this is what it looks like. And this what it does, if nothing else, you know, I think everybody wants what they can't have, you know, you get a company like Uggs that keep their production limit down, and they make cool products, and everybody wants them. So it keeps the price supply and demand type influx as well. But I think it's very important for people to see the products that are new, even if it's just an update of a current product, and it shows exactly what's coming. Even if it's not available or shipping today, it gives people hope, hey, this is what's next, this is what's happening. And a lot of these shows are good because they are good for the dealer slash integrator to get educated on what the product can do. You know, if an end user sees it's fine, it's not a big deal. But the dealer, contractor, integrator, are the people that are going to be educating their buyers on how it works. And I think these shows are very, very important in the in the formative stages to show them what's happening, what we're working on. And what we're doing.

Savannah Jones 6:07

Well, if there's one product that Parabit makes that you would recommend for all exhibitors to put in their booths, what would it be?

Robert Iraggi 7:23

I gotta say, our mobile phone charging stations. And I have a lot of friends in the industry that actually are looking to buy them from Parabit themselves. Because they have demo rooms, they have seminar rooms, they have areas of their booth or another offsite meeting room that they want people to come in and stay. And again, the great thing about charging a dead phone at a trade show, and we all have them is that you need at least 10-15 minutes to get some kind of juice back in your phone, what do you do, and you're not going to leave the $1,000 phone and go and get a cup of coffee and come back, you're going to plug it into the phone, the phone into the into the charger, you're going to hold that phone or put it on the shelf. And you're going to listen to whatever's going on in that booth, whether it be a musical demo, or some kind of a presentation of what's going on. So I think definitely something like that can get people engaged you know, it always helps to have a coffeemaker or something else too. But something that's functional that some people can actually use and have it free of charge or something will be something good to have in their booth. Well, Robert,

Savannah Jones 8:17

is there anything else that you want to add in regards to trade shows like where they have been pre-pandemic, post-pandemic and and what you guys are doing at Parabit and kind of how things are starting to unfold as we move into the busy fall season?

Robert Iraggi 8:32

That's a great question Savannah. In my old industry I was there for almost 25 years, we went to the same cities every year. And they were smart because they put them in bigger cities, easier to get to, the "Las Vegas's," the "Orlando's" the places that had direct flights and stuff. But I think the charming character, and it would really brings the people out I think are the smaller cities, or the lesser cities with cities you don't think to get to, for a trade show or for a conference because it really really adds, you know, element and flair to a conference. And it gives people a reason to go. The shows that we've been to especially Parabit transcend in every industry, from security, to banking, to aviation and all things in between for commercial facilities. So I think that we've had a really, really broad stroke of showing different products out of our product tree, as we call it, and giving people a good chance to learn about what's going on. Because even if we have, let's say 20 products that we make, you never know what someone's going to come in and give. The last thing I'll say about that also is I think trade shows really, really give a good off the record thing between a manufacturer and a buyer. Hey, what do you think of this product? Hey, how can we make this product better? What don't we have in our product lineup that you guys can use, sell to an end user and go from there? And I think it's a lot of cool things that can happen at trade shows that keep people engaged, get their opinion going. And at the end of the day when my bosses always used to say this that you know, it doesn't matter if you're a president of a company or the secretary, everybody wants to feel useful, feel important and feel like their voice matters. And I think at a trade show, it's something definitely, definitely, definitely you can do to make your stamp on a product or an innovation or an idea. And I think that's a very, very important thing there in the trade show market.

Savannah Jones 10:19

Well Robert thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate it.

Robert Iraggi 10:22

Thank you very much, Savannah, always good to see you.

Savannah Jones 10:25

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