What the MINExpo experience says about future shows

By |  September 21, 2021


Expectations going into MINExpo International 2021 last month were, not surprisingly, somewhat low.

With another COVID wave sweeping the U.S. and a mask mandate in effect across Nevada, most exhibitors anticipated a low turnout. The show, fortunately, turned out better than many expected.

The host National Mining Association reported that roughly 21,000 attendees registered for MINExpo 2021, and periodic traffic surges were apparent in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North, Central and South Halls during the first two days of the show.

Heck, even the morning of MINExpo’s third and final day was arguably respectable. And if you’ve spent any time on the floor of a multi-day trade show during its final day, you know the halls often resemble ghost towns.

Inside the numbers

MINExpo 2021 wasn’t necessarily flooded with aggregate producers, but they were undoubtedly there. Some swung by the Pit & Quarry booth for a visit, and multiple exhibitors shared how they were pleasantly surprised by the number of aggregate producers on-hand.

Think back to ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020, the last major industry trade show where aggregate producer attendance was uncharacteristically light: ConExpo-Con/Agg’s timing, of course, coincided with the start of the pandemic, so many of the major aggregate producers didn’t allow their employees to attend. MINExpo 2021, therefore, presented a venue for aggregate producers to get out and see some of the equipment manufacturers they missed 18 months earlier.

The view in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center from Sandvik's booth. Sandvik hosted a MINExpo press conference Tuesday, sharing its latest on equipment electrification and more. Photo: P&Q Staff

The view in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center from Sandvik’s booth during MINExpo International 2021. Photo: P&Q Staff

The international contingent, much like the number of aggregate producers on-hand in Las Vegas, was limited at MINExpo, as well. Some exhibitors, however, remarked that they were surprised by the number of South American attendees, but turnout from other global regions was noticeably limited compared to past MINExpos.

A statistical comparison between the 2021 and 2016 MINExpos further illustrates just how different the last two shows were. The number of exhibitors this year (1,300) was about two-thirds of what it was in 2016 (1,900), and 2021 attendance was less than half of what it was in 2016 (nearly 44,000).

Yes, these key figures are down dramatically this year. But nearly every exhibitor P&Q visited with felt good about their overall experience. Many exhibitors felt the majority of those who attended MINExpo were serious buyers, and being at a trade show for the first time in a long time provided a jolt for those who made the trip.

Inflection point

Years from now, industry stakeholders may look back at MINExpo 2021 as an inflection point.

It could serve as the first sign of a shift in significantly lower trade show turnout, but I’d argue we’ll look back at the show as a reminder of how our industry craves the unique opportunity trade shows present: a single forum for the industry at-large to gather and get up close with the full gamut of equipment offerings available.

Trade show attendance numbers may never exceed the record highs achieved in recent years, but the MINExpo figures that were a fraction of the norm this year will likely climb the next time around – so long as COVID is under control and companies are comfortable with their people getting out again.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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