The Future of Trade Shows in a Digital World




digital trade showsIn a time where personal interaction is becoming obsolete and replaced with an online social world, it would seem likely that business interaction would follow in its digital footsteps. Business communication, recruitment, announcements, and client meetings… how close are we to a completely web-based system? Many people would probably argue we’re dangling on the cusp from looking at how social networking has completely infiltrated technology … but some aspects of business relations are still thriving in the real-life tangible world. How do we predict where face-to-face activity will end up?

Trade shows are one successful tool used by industries and companies to showcase, advertise, connect, and grow. It would seem likely this would be one of the first marketing investments to transfer to an online setting- providing easier access to more people worldwide. And in fact, that is one of the leading reasons for the emergence of virtual trade shows.

Other benefits of stepping out of the trade show circuit will depend on that particular company. Apple, as Macworld’s Jonathan Seff reports, is removing themselves from the usual round of conventions where they normally exhibit – the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual trade show, for one. Seff explains, “the reality is that Apple is just as likely to make a product announcement on any given Tuesday as it is during a big trade show. And for important products, Apple now tends to hold its own launch events or press briefings … where it can control the timing and conditions around those announcements. …Apple can feel more free to make announcements when it’s ready to do so, not when a certain event happens to fall.”

Or Apple gets a rush from keeping everyone in suspense.

Apple has also been making session videos available online from the Worldwide Developer’s Conference this year, reaching out to all of those who could not attend the sold-out event. But it’s not only the technology companies using this online outlet away from the face-to-face events. Welders, engineers, electricians, and machinery workers are exhibiting on the virtual International Industrial Trade Show, connecting their businesses around the globe.

If everybody’s doing it… why bother with in person trade shows any more? Well, a lot of companies are finding reasons to take part, and even rely on the shows for a thriving business. Held this year in Dubai, InRetail 2008 is a trade show that caters to all sides of the retail industry, and is notably growing each year. AME Info quotes Exhibition Director Paula Al Chami who says that “given the rate at which the region’s retail market is growing, we cannot afford to sit back on the shows’ success to date. The planning for next year’s event starts now, and we are sure that InRetail 2009 will be bigger and more successful than its predecessors”.

A trade show is also a venue to meet people you might not have looked for or encountered otherwise. An article in the Boston Herald tells of one man who built up an ice bagging business out of his garage by visiting supermarket trade shows to find clients. One new client “wasn’t looking for bagged ice when he met Bagdwal,” writes Jennifer Powell, “but he was impressed with the man’s story and his drive. That is the sort of personal experience that can’t be replaced by the World Wide Web.”

There will always be different methods of communication, different ways to reach out to other businesses and industries that work better for some people rather than others: selective trade show involvement, like with Apple, or a virtual convention for the International Industrial Trade Show. But many people still know that there’s an added touch about a personal interaction- sometimes a more convincing way to sell your product or tell your story, maybe an opportunity to meet someone in a profession you would not have considered.

People and companies are more than just what a description or web page can say about them, and trade shows are one way of getting a feel for the attitude of a company, and the kinds of people who work for it. At least for now, the business world is still continuing to overlap with the real world, and succeeding from whatever degree of face-to-face interaction works best for each company. With the growing use of technology, event solution providers are one way to incorporate the digital world, and ensure your trade show display is up to the latest technology, and the most convenient to suit your needs. With the numerous versatile displays available to rent or purchase, your booth can be anything you want it to be, allowing your personal needs to be met successfully.

About the Author
Jonathan Edelman provides exciting trade show marketing ideas, including advice about prize wheels, customizable scratch-off cards, money blowing machines, and other exciting trade show attractions. With years of experience in the trenches, he is an expert on booth displays, lead generation techniques, and networking with trade show vendors. Helping to build a referral-generating system, his ideas continuously lead to a boost in sales and revenue.

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