Trade Shows, Expos, and Conferences: What Are the Differences?

When you hear the words “event planning” how does it make you feel? Nervous, overwhelmed, and stressed? Or excited, energized, and enthusiastic?

Regardless of how you feel about planning or attending business events, it’s important for you (and your business) to meet exhibition goals. This article will share the key differences between different types of common events, namely trade shows, expos, and conferences.

Discover what makes each of these events unique and successful so that you can plan the perfect event every time!

What Is a Trade Show?

A trade show is a business-to-business event. Each business brings a product or service they want to share (or trade) with other business partners. Trade shows are generally not open to the public but sometimes media members attend. Trade shows will have speakers or group social events too.

Trade shows are a great opportunity to meet business connections and get your business noticed. If you are attending a trade show make sure to have promotional items available (brochures, cards, hats, t-shirts, mousepads, etc.). You also want to create a unique and memorable trade show booth to attract attention.

What Is an Expo?

Unlike a trade show, an expo is often focused on a particular theme. For example, a bridal expo is an event with wedding-related vendors. Couples meet with florists, jewelers, make-up artists, and dress designers to learn about bridal industry trends and decide the vendors they wish to work with.

Expos are a chance for vendors to sell products and services directly to customers. Some expos are open to the public and others require an invitation and/or RSVP. Expos can be local, regional, or even international.

What Is a Conference?

A conference is a large meeting or series of meetings for people with similar interests or professions. For example, a teaching conference might invite a group of elementary school teachers to meet and share information to help each other succeed.

Conferences usually have at least one speaker who is an expert in the field. The conference may offer break-out rooms for discussion as well as networking events to socialize and meet other industry experts.

While conferences used to be held in person, the latest trend in business events is virtual conferences. This type of conference is hosted via videoconference which allows people to join together from anywhere in the world.

Trade shows and expos are centered around sales and marketing while conferences tend to be more information-focused.

Crush Your Exhibition Goals

Now that you know more about trade shows, expos, and conferences, which type of event will you pursue your business? Remember that all of these events are opportunities to make connections, further your business’s brand, and reach your exhibition goals.

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