When Did We Start Going to Events Anyway? The History of Trade Show Booths

Trade Show Booths with m design.jpg

Trade shows are one of the most profitable B2B marketing strategies, and the value of the trade show market is expected to climb to $16.2 billion by 2020. While trade shows are now accepted as a great opportunity to get face to face with stakeholders and decision-makers in the B2B space, where did they come from?

The First Trade Shows Originate in 3000 BCE

As early as 3000 BCE, bazaars were established outside of city walls in the Middle East to sell a broad range of goods to travelers, including cups, fruit and drinks. Bazaars rapidly became a part of daily life in the Middle East, but they were primarily designed to sell directly to consumers and not facilitate trade from business to business.

The First Modern Trade Show

It seems silly to say the first “modern” anything happened over 160 years ago, but that’s the case with trade show booths. The first trade show of the modern era was The Great Exhibition. This trade show was held on May 1, 1851, in Central London in a large structure called The Crystal Palace that was built just for the event. The motivation of the show was to bring the most innovative and advanced products in the world together under one roof for viewing and purchasing.

The Great Exhibition was hosted by Queen Victoria and featured over 100,000 exhibits and 6 million visitors. The exhibition hall was open for 5 months and displayed consumer and commercial products including pottery, fabrics, perfumes, machinery and weapons. It’s hard to imagine a trade show of that scale taking place today!

How Trade Show Booths Have Evolved

Oversized props and in-person demonstrations have always been a common denominator of trade show booths, and things were no different in the 1800s. Since that first enormous exhibition, businesses have been using trade shows as an opportunity to launch new products, talk to other businesses and perform live demonstrations. The first live product demonstration at a trade show on record was completed by Frederick Bakewell, who demoed an early version of the fax machine.

With such a big market and so much competition (even if there aren’t 100,000 other exhibits at the trade shows you attend), standing out is imperative. Partnering with a professional design firm is the best way to ensure efficacy, a memorable trade show booth and a way to make valuable connections with consumers and other businesses.

Master Your Trade Show Booth Design with M Design

M Design utilizes smart, sophisticated graphic design to elevate your business, whether you’re on the trade show floor or simply ordering new business cards. To learn more about our broad range of design services or how we can help you build your business, please visit our website or give us a call at (410) 728-5007.