The History of Trade Shows – Where it All Started

Trade shows have long been an important part of the way we market services and products to the public and other business owners. But, how did trade shows begin, and what made them so popular? Knowing the history of trade shows can help you to better understand this promotional method and give you insight into how you can make your trade show exhibit more appealing.

In the Middle East, bazaars have been held for centuries. Local merchants came to a central meeting place and showcased artisan and edible goods. These days, a bazaar is an open marketplace within a permanent structure where products are sold or exchanged. There were also a number of smaller meetings that were held in various parts of the world that were precursors to trade shows. The meetings were relatively small and were often conducted outside. Later, the trade show was held in what would now be considered a convention center in a busy city that would serve as a hub for professionals who wanted to make sales and connections with other businesspeople to form lucrative relationships.

The Great Exhibition is considered one of the first trade shows, and it was held in May 1851. The objective of the event was to show all the world’s best products in one place. Central London’s Hyde Park was the place where the Great Exhibition was held. There was even a venue built especially for the Great Exhibition known as the Crystal Palace. The location was taken down after the show but was moved to South London where it remained until 1936.

The Great Exhibition’s opening ceremonies were held by Queen Victoria and the trade show went on for much longer than modern events. The Great Exhibition lasted for five months and about 6 million people traveled to see all the show had to offer.

The first trade show wasn’t niche-specific and featured several a number of products, including musical instruments, pottery, fragrances, and machinery. It’s also important to note that the idea of a large trade show table or exhibit has been around for quite some time. Elaborate tables were a huge part of the first trade show, and appearances from celebrities and well-known business owners have long been part of what makes trade shows more appealing.

During the late medieval period, trade shows remained popular, since merchant capitalism was common. Craftsmen and farmers would travel from place to place to display their goods in markets that were mainly outdoors. This became pretty common during the 1700s in North America and Europe.

While many aspects of trade shows have changed over the years, it’s pretty clear that face-to-face marketing is one of the most effective ways to get the attention of consumers and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. When it comes to taking a modern approach to a trade show, be sure to advertise the event well in advance on your website or social media pages so you can attract more people to the event to help your business grow.

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