Purpose of the paper: The main goal of the work is to outline the principal trends and the role played by the web communication within the international trade fair scenario. At a later time, the adequacy of the online communicative activities, adopted by the Italian exhibition centers, is evaluated. Methodology: A systematic review process (aimed at identify all the academic articles focused on the Trade Shows field between 1996 and 2016 and in particular on the web communication role) and a website quality evaluation model (2QCV2Q, Mich, Franch, 2000) are adopted. The model is here adapted to the sector of reference by the insertion of a series of quality variables specifically identified and used in literature for the trade show websites quality evaluation. Results: The survey shows an overall insufficient and underdeveloped adoption of the online communicative tools by the National exhibition centers. Although the majority of them own an official website, only a small percentage (about less than half) realizes really interactive online communicative activities. From the point of view of the single investigated dimensions, the National trade show websites present, as a whole, a correct brand identity construction (IDENTITY), a high content richness (CONTENT) and, to a lesser extent, a proper and careful website content management/update (MANAGEMENT). In contrast, the most evident criticalities have emerged in the context of the INDIVIDUATION, USABILITY and SERVICES dimensions. Limits: The study limitation is linked to the fact the survey has been conducted from an external perspective, not making possible, in this context, to realize a trade show online communication assessment in relation to the governance specific objectives. For the future, the authors’ interest is to extend the research from a methodological (through direct interviews with the National exhibition centers managers) and a geographical point of view (through a comparison with exhibition systems of other countries, in order to understand the real development state of the National exhibition centers online communicative activities). Implications: The study identifies a series of possible learning and innovative paths the National trade show industry could undertake in order to reduce the gap that currently separates the National exhibition universe from a totally powerful use of the web communication tools. Originality of the paper: The adopted literature review process has permitted to map the different academic articles that have deepened, in the last 20 years, the Tradeshows (TSs) field, allowing, in this way, to outline the main trends characterizing the recent literature specifically dedicated to this research sector.
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