Purpose – Taking the dynamic capability and institutional perspectives, this study seeks to examine how capability‐driven and institution‐driven factors influence usage of internet technology in trade show markets. The current study also examines the influence of the usage of the internet for trade show marketing on performance of trade shows. Design/methodology/approach – Structural equation modeling was undertaken to test the research model in a sample of 414 exhibitors at the Chinese Export Commodity Fair. Findings – Overall, the results point to the powerful influence of the usage of the internet for trade show marketing on trade show performance as perceived by exhibitors. The specific results also reveal that, while a website's capability in providing quality information facilitates the usage of the company website for pre‐show promotion, an exhibitor's legitimacy motive of using its website to build up the company image contributes to the usage of the company website for at‐show selling, and the firm's inter‐functional coordinating capabilities that capitalize on internet connectivity in support of superior customer services encourage the usage of company website for post‐show follow‐up. Originality/value – The key lesson for exhibitors is to adopt the right approach to internet marketing – using the internet primarily for “informational and communicational purpose” in pre‐show promotion, and for “customer service and support purpose” in post‐show follow‐up.
- Trade fairs; Internet; Market orientation; Mathematical modelling