Leading Thought: Generating and Leveraging Trend Data At Events

You already know that events like trade shows are powerful drivers of leads and sales, but don’t forget that they can also be a goldmine for market trend data, providing indicators of potential industry shifts long before they actually happen.

As a case in point, each year, the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) collaborate to organize the Pet Industry Leadership Conference, an event that uses industry insights and in-event data to share trends and developments in the pet and pet service industry.

The key to doing this is to use your events strategically, listening to what exhibitors and attendees have to say, asking the right questions, creating activities based on feedback, and going over event data in a methodical manner to identify developing trends that you can use to improve your future events and establish your event’s brand as an industry leader. By taking an active role in industry research, you can create new and compelling reasons for attendees and exhibitors to get involved with your event.

Below are 4 ways event organizers and marketers can use trade show data before, during, and after events to gather insights on market trends, all while providing a richer experience to attendees and exhibitors. 

1.     Conduct Strategic Surveys

Want to know what challenges and problems your exhibitors are facing in their respective organizations? How about what their target consumers want from products and services? The simplest solution is to just ask them, preferably while your event is still fresh in their minds.

Start by sending out online surveys a week before or on the night of a trade show; this will help you gauge interest among exhibitors and attendees. You should also send out digital surveys during the event, which will help you gather fresh insights on the most and least popular products and services, event activities, and speakers among many other things. A few examples of survey tools you can use include SurveyMonkey, email survey forms, and your event app (ask your event technology supplier about this feature).  

Surveys are a simple yet effective way to capture data on potential industry trends. For example, the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA) routinely holds events that also serve as hubs for collecting industry insights. These findings are published in IBPSA’s Annual Pet Care Services Financial Survey Report, which covers industry trends, largest revenue sources, consumer habits, and even median compensation of business owners in the pet industry.

2.     Ask the Right Questions When Doing Pre-Event Research

There’s nothing new about doing pre-event research, but any kind of data gathering and analysis you do should have a specific purpose. To be specific, you need to ask the right questions when conducting research.

For attendees:

• What kind of products and services are your attendees interested in the most?
• What topics and issues would they like to hear discussions about?
• Which companies or retailers would pique their interest the most?

For exhibitors and retailers:

• What products and services typically get the highest sales among your exhibitors during trade show events?
• What kind of leads do they generate at trade shows?
• How interested are captured leads in their products/services (i.e. hot, warm, neutral)?

Events like the PILC typically use this data to create activities like breakout sessions that discuss industry trends. In addition, if the PILC sees that attendees and exhibitors are concerned about competition from ecommerce sites, they can arrange for expert speakers on parallel ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses, instead of a traditional pet service speaker.

3.     Integrate Early Survey Data into Your Trade Show Agenda

Now that you’ve gleaned valuable insights by asking the right questions from exhibitors and attendees, be sure you actually integrate this information into the core of your next show’s agenda.

For example, if your attendees are looking forward to getting more variety of a certain product line or service, you can use this information to help you create a more beneficial sponsorship program for exhibitors who offer these services. Not only will your attendees get what they want, your retailers will also have a better chance of generating leads and sales at your event—it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

The Brolly data reporting system.

The Brolly data reporting system.

For exhibitors, if their biggest challenge is finding ways to get the most out of a trade show, then teach them how to maximize the trade show experience. Amazing Pet Expos has created a landing page on their website specifically for this purpose, offering tips and tricks for standing out in a pet industry event. You could also try to ramp up your efforts to get additional press coverage, which your exhibitors can also use to their favor if they’re concerned about generating public awareness.

Another strategy is to create a “sandbox” area for attendees, where you can display prototype products and services that attendees can evaluate in a risk-free environment. The Global Pet Expo is known for this marketing approach, inviting retailers to offer attendees with samples of new pet food, toys, and grooming products among many others.

4.     Analyze Event Data for Developing Trends

 Throughout the course of planning, executing, and evaluating your event, be sure to collect data on:
• Year over year category growth
• Changes in attendee feedback on emergent trends
• Distribution trends over time
• At-event engagement with new trend

Compare results across shows and years to measure any trends. Beyond that, you should also re-evaluate your event targets, which are apt to change each year. This is the best way to ensure your trade shows continue to get better.

You can also leverage event data to improve your event marketing materials, whether it’s by creating more relevant ads or publishing industry reports to establish thought leadership as a trade show organizer.


These 4 steps should help you gather information that’s relevant not just to your events, but to the industry your event brand is in. By knowing what trends are coming, you can position your event brand ahead of the curve, ensuring you can meet the needs of your attendees and participants.

Written by Tabitha Naylor

Want to get started with next-gen surveys, research and data analysis at your next event? Well Brolly Event Portals were built to help with just that. Take a free tour and see how a portal can be your window into data capture, analysis and insights for your event and industry.