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Trade Shows Tiptoe Back to Life With Attendance Still Down 40%

Conventions are returning in person across the U.S. after a two-year interlude. This year is ‘critical’ for many trade groups.

Attendees at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, on March 22. 

Attendees at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, on March 22. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Despite some awkward moments — elbow bumps, and reluctant handshakes — the U.S. industry convention is slowing coming back.

That’s not a moment too soon for a sector whose survival was far from certain a couple of years ago and that is vital to the full recovery of two key industries: hotels and airlines.