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How to Find the Right Construction Trade Fair

Workforce Development

By Paul Revellat, Construction Executive

Participating in trade fairs in the building and construction industry is not optional. If business owners want to grow their companies in any given country, they will need to increase their network and visibility through national or international exhibitions. Meeting people face to face to do business is crucial—in construction more than in any other sector. Whether it’s local specialized fairs or large-scale international gatherings, construction events are the place where planners and architects get their inspiration for current or future projects. Buyers meet new suppliers and potential partners and innovation leaders can discover new products and solutions.

Year after year, construction fairs get bigger and new events are constantly emerging all around the world. World of Concrete and CONEXPO in Las Vegas; Associated Builders and Contractors Annual Convention in Long Beach, Calif.; BuiltWorlds’ events in Chicago; Procore’s Groundbreak in Austin, Texas; Viewpoint’s Collaborate in Portland, Ore.; BATIMAT in Paris; BAUMA in Munich; The Big 5 in Dubai; U.K. Construction Week in London, as well as many other gatherings are unmissable meetings for global players—and the attendance at those fairs keeps growing every year.

The problem is, there isn’t a one-event-fits-all strategy. There are the massive comprehensive fairs (including the ones mentioned above) as well as local equipment shows, specialized conferences and risk management forums. Depending on the products/services the company is selling, the size of the company or the type of project the company is looking for, they are not going to choose the same events.

How does a business owner find the most relevant events to take part in? Where are the real business opportunities? How can a business owner predict the quality of attendees? How do they get reliable unbiased feedback? How do they discover new events?

There’s been little evolution in exhibitor behavior over the past 30 years when it comes to choosing events. Surprisingly, no tech provider or industry leader has focused on this to help professionals find events based on reliable data and insights. Typical exhibitor behavior when deciding which trade fair to attend falls along three common lines:

  • Word of mouth: Ask around, speak to friends and colleagues and find out what everyone else is up to before committing.
  • Creatures of habit: Most people are risk averse and will not look actively to move away from tried and tested events.
  • Intermediaries: Especially when going abroad, companies often book space on trade fairs pre-selected by public institutions such as economic development agencies, trade missions or chambers of commerce such as the Department of Commerce.

It’s clear that some companies are potentially missing opportunities at events they haven’t heard about yet. Lacking enough data to make a decision to invest, they play it safe and only dedicate time and money to events where they exhibit year after year.

But the construction industry, where participating at business events is so important, deserves more. In the age of digital, discovering events or getting feedback shouldn’t be such a difficult and time-consuming task.

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