Will tradeshows be replaced by virtual or online meetings? Can tradeshows survive in this modern age of faster, simpler connectivity and communication? Is the traditional tradeshow model — one that requires attendees to travel long distances and exhibitors to setup shop in a new convention center for every show — now becoming a dinosaur in these modern super-connected times?
With the latest developments in touch screen media and interactive apps we’re dramatically expanding the realm of capabilities in what can be explained, presented and understood on-screen by interacting with digital media — whether your are standing in a booth or sitting at your desk in your home office. Is this the latest development that will finally change forever the need for the traditional tradeshow and meeting?
These questions (or some form of them) have been around for at least 25 years. Back in the 80’s when portable and modular exhibits became more sophisticated and attractive, many people predicted the end of larger heavier custom booths, but that did not happen. In the 90’s when tension fabric structures came into their own, many people predicted that custom exhibits would soon be replaced with all fabric structures due to their cost savings, but that didn’t happen either. In the early 2000’s when the internet and web based meetings came along, many people once again predicted the demise of the traditional tradeshow. After all why travel so many people, house them, feed them and construct elaborate environments for them to meet in when it can all be done from your desk in front of your computer monitor? The fact is that none of these developments killed the traditional tradeshow and I don’t see this latest trend doing it either.
What I do see happening is that this latest, as well as all the previous improvements in products and technology, continue to enhance and improve tradeshows by bringing new ways to make tradeshows and events more interesting, more informative, more efficient and more engaging.
Here’s What Technology WILL Do for Tradeshows
- Make in-booth experiences more compelling
- Cater content to the unique interests of each attendee
- Give exhibitors more flexibility in changing content from show to show
- Provide exhibitors insightful data on information most requested by attendees
- Expedite follow up responses and help speed the sales cycle
- Reduce or eliminate the costs and need for printed literature
Technology will not replace the tradeshow and the advantages of the tradeshow model remain intact. Bringing together many people who are interested in a similar industry, product or service in a focused and dedicated environment where they can meet, share, learn, talk and “trade” with each other face-to-face. The face-to-face element will remain as essential as ever and is still the primary benefit to tradeshows and building business relationships.
I think all these great things that have evolved over the years have made tradeshows better and enhanced them, but never really threatened to eliminate them. These developments added more tools into the tool box for the experienced designers and exhibit companies to utilize to craft even better environments, experiences and exhibits.
Just like all great tools, the effectiveness is determined by who is selecting and using them and how skillfully they are used. Experienced designers and qualified exhibit companies make the most out of all of these great resources and they combine them appropriately and strategically in ways that best engage an attendee at a tradeshow. This insures that exhibitors get the most return (ROI) out of their tradeshow investment.