Hybrid shows and models are here to stay

This is the 50th issue of Torque Magazine; we’ve been operating a hybrid publishing model virtually since the start – so 20 of the magazines have been purely digital issues while the remainder have been print mags.

Hybrid is a term that is being bandied around quite a bit at the moment, with the forced evolution of the trade show calendar thanks to the pandemic. BAU, Cologne’s International Hardware Fair and the Taiwan International Fastener Show are just a few of the shows that have pledged to run hybrid trade fairs – meaning concurrent on and offline versions of the same show, so you can visit in person or attend via laptop without hopping on a train, plane or car.

Source: www.eisenwarenmesse.com

There’s a temptation to write off this hybrid show concept as something that show organisers came up with in desperation during a difficult year. You’d be forgiven for expecting hybrid shows to quietly disappear as soon as we can throw away the face masks.

But if I was a betting man, I’d stake a few quid on this not being the case as I think hybrid models are here to stay. A closer examination of trade show announcements outlines plans to stick with simultaneous off and online shows in 2022 and beyond – well into the time when Covid-19 will hopefully be a distant memory. Why? There’s a pragmatic reason - big international show organisers will have invested a lot of time and money on virtual shows, so it’s in their interest.

There’s further common sense reasons to suggest hybrid shows will continue far beyond 2021. Covid-19 was largely unforeseen and we all made the best of it, but we’ll all want to be far better prepared in case of similarly disruptive events. Think it’s unlikely we’ll have another pandemic? Maybe, but do you recall Iceland’s volcano eruption that grounded flights across Europe in April 2010? Further disruption in the foreseeable future may be hard to predict, but it’s not fantasy. Hybrid shows have the potential to mitigate and provide certainties for show organisers, exhibitors and visitors.

Digital will clearly remain integral to the future of the industry in general. This month’s Torque Magazine takes a look at B2B webshops, IT services and ecommerce, as well as STAFDA’s recent convention, which was run on a purely online basis for the first time. As for Torque Magazine’s next 50 issues, you can expect more of the same hybrid model, offering enhanced and evolving digital magazines coupled with our more traditional print magazines, all backed by our newsletter and news site at www.torque-expo.com. And if you’d like to delve back into the first 50 issues of Torque Magazine, head straight to our handy Torque Magazine Archive.

Jonathon Harker