2022 NAB Show attendance drops over pre-pandemic numbers

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After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the 2022 NAB Show attracted roughly half the number of people as it did pre-pandemic.

52,458 people attended the 2022 event in Las Vegas. Back in 2019, the show had over 90,000 registrations.

Both registration figures include representatives from vendors exhibiting at the show, who generally aren’t seen as valuable because they tend to spend time selling products, rather than buying.

NAB Show was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, though the organization attempted to forge ahead with the event both years.

With many companies slowly returning to offices, there are still many that are opting to restrict travel due to health and budget concerns, which likely contributed to the drop in attendees.

NAB was requiring all attendees to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, but opted to only make face masks “recommended.”

Even before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, some big names in the industry had dropped out of the show after having significant presences for years.

While many companies and organizations in numerous industries put on big conventions and trade shows, attendance figures had been declining for many of them prior to the pandemic as companies tightened up on spending.

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While in-person networking is always touted as a big benefit of trade shows, product demonstrations and announcements are also big — but it’s likely that many businesses switched to remote demonstrations and pitches during the pandemic and may stay that way for the foreseeable future, especially as the economy begins to slow.

Many exhibitors at the 2022 event opted for eye-catching booths with demos, particularly in the areas of augmented reality and virtual sets. Large LED installations were also used extensively to grab visitors’ attention.

Meanwhile, NAB announced plans for its 100th-anniversary show from April 15 to 19, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the same location as 2022’s event.

The first NAB Show was held in 1923 in New York, the same year the organization was founded, though it was known as the National Association of Radio Broadcasters at the time.

Like most trade shows, NAB will likely focus on building back attendance in the coming years and could find it valuable to leverage the centennial celebration as a marketing hook. However, it remains to be seen if the numbers will ever return to pre-pandemic figures.

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