Are Costco Stores Any Different Than a Trade Show Floor?

Categories: Trade Show Marketing

As the BIG decisions are being made when and where trade shows will resume again, I can’t help but make an overly simplistic comparison between trade show floors in convention centers and a large Costco store.

I don’t mean to compare like are they the same thing, but rather in terms of mass gatherings in the age of Covid and the rules that are applied fairly or unfairly whether they make sense or not.

For the sake of critical thinking, let’s do a mental exercise and compare the two and see how they’re the same and how they’re different. (sorry Costco, we don’t mean to pick on you, but after my latest pilgrimage to get a couple weeks supply of items, I couldn’t help but notice)

Sure we’re biased, no doubt about it but agencies and lawmakers have given us a lot of time to think about these things with marketing events and trade shows shut down for now.

So let’s see how they stack up…

How Costco stores are Similar to Trade Shows:

There are a number of similarities:

  • Both are Indoors
  • Both are full of large groups of people under one roof
  • Both mainly take place in medium to large cities
  • Both provide ‘essential’ services especially if you take into consideration the economic contribution that B2B shows offer
  • Both have aisles of people being directed
  • Both have people coming and going throughout the day
  • Both have people touching things

How Costco stores are Different than Trade Shows:

To be fair, here are some items that make them different:

  • Costco, don’t have to travel to another city or state
  • Less face-to-face talking and interaction at Costco
  • Costco stores are open all day, everyday whereas trade shows are only 2-4 days and then over.

Conclusion- Yes they are different but not by much

Granted, trade shows are a bit larger (depending on the show), but the important take-away is they are more similar than different and that we are already holding mass gatherings (Costcos and other big retailers) across the country each day.

Especially the part about trade shows duration is 3-4 days where traffic can be well-managed and Costcos and other large retailers are open every day, all day so wayyyyy more volume of people than a typical trade show.

As just one voice in the big and wonderful trade show industry, I think we can take careful and measured steps to hold safe and essential trade shows. My hope is our leaders withing the industry are taking steps to make this happen (like Germany did).

The sooner and safer these shows can be brought back, the better and our industry including exhibiting companies, attendees and the country as a whole will be better off as a result. Fingers crossed!

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