I just exhibited at my first trade show in a couple years. It was a Small Business Expo hosted along with a Golf Tournament - both at the local golf course in Orange, TX. The combo tournament/expo was put together by the local Chamber of Commerce, with the idea that the golfers would visit the expo, boosting the overall attendance.
Granted, this is a small market expo, with the city having a population of just 20K and 450 business members.
I joined the Chamber in order to be able to exhibit and introduce my business to this market - just 25 miles West of my home office.
The attendance was over 200 total, with well over 100 participating in all the door prizes. Each visitor had to get stickers from the 28 booths in order to be eligible for the grand prize.
I gained at least a dozen good leads for my promotional advertising business, with half coming from other exhibitors.
I used a 3 gallon Bubba Keg for the door prize entries and included it as part of my prize.
Several people were interested in the Keg, and I hope to sell a number of small orders of 12 to 24 pieces for at least a couple of the new clients I expect to add to my business.
I'll do some follow up Tuesday, with personal visits, dropping off catalogs and another sample product. The Chamber is having a ribbon cutting for me at their office, since my home office is outside their market. Another follow up 2 to 3 weeks later and then a month later should be enough to add at least 5 or 6 clients.
With the higher costs for travel presently, and attendance still lagging at some of the medium and large shows, exhibitors may still be reluctant to participate in as many as they have in the past.