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Tales of the Unexpected: Why I miss trade shows

By Richard Clarke, Founder, Ingredient Communications

One of my favourite words is ‘serendipity’. It sounds nice when you say it, and it also has an uplifting meaning – the accidental discovery of something good. It’s like when you clear out your wardrobe and find money inside the pocket of a pair of trousers that you haven’t worn for years. Or when you rediscover old photos in the attic even though you only went up there to look for some paperwork.

Serendipity came into my mind when I was thinking about what I miss most about attending trade shows, with several key events having been cancelled this year due to COVID-19. It’s fair to say that I don’t miss the crowded airports or the overpriced hotels. But I do miss that sense of being in a place where you might come across something you weren’t expecting.

I miss the conversations with strangers in the endless queues for coffee, and the unsolicited invitations to come onto a stand as I’m walking past, often while on my way to another meeting. Usually these random, enjoyable encounters go no further. But occasionally they lead to a business relationship that endures for years. True serendipity in action.

There are many other things I miss about trade shows, such as getting together with our fantastic clients and seeing our friends in the media. But what I miss most is that element of chance, the possibility that a happy surprise awaits you. The future remains uncertain but let’s hope physical trade shows are back on the agenda soon, so we can all resume our adventures into the unknown.