Trade Shows, Conferences, and Conventions: What’s the Difference?

“Convention” or “conference”? “Trade show” or “convention”? It’s easy to mix up these terms; all refer to large gatherings of people with common interests. But the three are different in purpose, content, and vibe. This guide illuminates the distinction.

What is a Convention?

several people walking up and down a large staircase

At a convention, people gather to engage in a common interest in a laid back atmosphere. The most popular example is Comic-Con, a massive assembly of comic fans who get together to share their appreciation for franchises like Star Wars, Marvel or, DC Comics. Anyone can attend a convention, which is less formal than a trade show or conference. Depending on the nature of the convention, you might even find people in costume. Vendors with products that align with the interests of the attendees often have success in landing new customers, especially if people attend the convention intending to expand collections of something like cars, tattoos, or art.

What Is a Conference?

Conferences are formal gatherings in which people convene to discuss a particular business topic. Generally, there’s nothing for sale at a conference. Instead, professionals meet to explore new ideas or solve problems relevant to their entire industry. For example, at a social media conference, a topic might be “Creating Foolproof Content Marketing That Customers Love.” Often, thought leaders and visionaries in the industry will give talks designed to enlighten attendees about new best practices or inspire them to think in new ways about how to address challenges.

What Is a Trade Show?

Open only to company representatives and members of the press, trade shows offer businesses a chance to demonstrate their products and services in a live setting. As most attendees are either influencers or decision makers, trade shows bring businesses in close range of customers who are actively looking to make purchases. Trade shows allow companies to forego the guesswork and cold calling often involved in landing new customers. It often costs far less to generate and convert leads at a trade show than it does through remote contact.

If you’re planning to attend a trade show, get in touch with CX Exhibits today. We’ll make sure your booth looks professional, attractive, and engaging. Call us at 504-464-4070 for a free quote.