It’s no secret that the trade show and live events industry experienced a massive shakeup this year.
And while “2020” is full of memes and commentary about the state of the world, we can’t help but be thankful for the way these events held up a mirror, showing us where we can improve in health and safety measures for employees and attendees. Thank you, 2020, for pushing our exhibit designers to create alternative solutions for meeting environments. Thank you for teaching us not to take face-to-face connections for granted. Thank you for the lessons in resilience this year #2020

 Now, it’s time to take these lessons and gear up for the return of live events and trade shows in 2021!

2021- Sean


 First, let’s talk about what’s happening, and when:

10 Trade Shows Happening in 2021

 1. Shot Show

SHOT Show is happening as planned for January 19-22 at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas

 America’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show “promises to be fully loaded with a new expanded show floor, new opportunities to grow or move your booth location and new opportunities to grow your business.” The highly anticipated 16th Annual SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range takes place on January 18 at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club.


Over 1,000,000 square feet of exhibitor space planned for March 23-25 in New Orleans

With 18,000 industry professionals and 700 exhibitors, HELI-EXPO is the place to be for new aircraft, networking opportunities, and professional development. Fun Fact: The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans was one of the first centers in the US to achieve the GBAC STAR™ accreditation. 

3. ISC West

ISC West will take place March 24th-26 at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas

The largest converged security industry trade show in the U.S. At ISC West, you will have the opportunity to network and connect with thousands of security and public safety professionals that convene at the show each year to experience and explore the newest technologies and solutions. 

4. InfoComm

InfoComm is scheduled for June 16-18 in Orlando

44,000 attendees from 110 countries, along with 1,000 exhibitors, are coming together at InfoComm for “the largest, most exciting event in North America focused on the pro-AV industry.”


HIMSS will take place a little later in the year, August 9-13 at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas

THE health information and technology event of the year, the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition promises “exceptional education, world-class speakers, cutting-edge products and powerful networking are hallmarks of this industry-leading conference.”

6. MD&M West

MD&M West will take place August 10-12 in Anaheim 

Did you know — “By 2025 the global medical device manufacturing market is expected to exceed $200 billion, driven by the aging population, increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, advancements in technology, and other factors.” Now in its 35th year, MD&M West brings together engineers and medical executives leading the charge in disrupting healthcare. 

7. SuperZoo

SuperZoo will be back at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas August 17-19

Definitely one of the more fun trade shows, because #dogs. 

8. AAOS Annual Meeting

AAOS is planning for both in-person and online engagement, August 31-September 4 in San Diego

To accommodate safe gathering for the top leaders in orthopaedics, at AAOS’s annual meeting “you can expect high-quality education and innovation as well as new opportunities to engage and collaborate both in-person and online.”          


FABTECH will be held at McCormick Place in Chicago September 13-16

Not to be confused with a Metallica concert, FABTECH is “North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event.”  

10. NAB Show

NAB is scheduled to take place October 9-13 in Las Vegas 

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3! NAB recently postponed its 2021 show. It is now taking place in October, in Las Vegas. 


Reevaluate Your Trade Show Marketing Strategy

 The other thing that 2020 taught us to do is to reevaluate. Everything.

 Now is actually the perfect time for a holistic review of your event marketing program. Entering a new year, with new protocols to follow, possibly new staffing, and new marketing objectives beckons for an overhaul of what was.

 Many people say they “can’t wait to get back to business as usual.” But, there is no going back. The world is moving forward. As tumultuous and uncertain as 2020 proved to be, on some level we all learned that the wash-rinse-repeat way of life and work wasn’t necessarily the best way. Having this time forced us all to slow down, take a collective breath, reprioritize, and reestablish a better way for our lives and our careers to move forward.

If you need a little help finding this new path forward in event marketing, here are some helpful resources:

  •  Is it really time for a change? There are three major things that indicate when it’s a good time to re-strategize your marketing plan.
  • *Cue Janet Jackson here* What have you done for me lately? Here’s an exercise to help you reevaluate your partnerships.
  • Learn how setting the right goals can realign your sales and marketing teams
  • Check out this webinar and supporting materials for creating a trade show campaign with the WOW factor!

So no, returning to trade shows won’t be “business as usual.” It’s going to be better than usual!

And Steelhead is here to guide your brand’s event marketing into the exciting possibilities of 2021.

Are you ready to strategize for your 2021 trade show program? We’re looking forward to sharing some fresh ideas with you!

Schedule a FREE consultation with our team here:

 Bring it on, 2021!


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