Tradeshows Must Establish More Than Digital Relationships

Cubicle Hell

There are some that think trade shows are dead and will soon cease to exist. We don’t agree, but we do think that digital-only interactions have very much reduced the real reason most of us attend tradeshows, conferences and seminars:

To interact with people.

Not just exchanging business cards or scanning QR codes on badges, but to wine, dine, and find out more about what makes us similar instead of different.

It’s true, shows such as CES (the granddaddy of tech events) shrunk by 22% last year. Even the rabid following Macworld enjoys has declined, too. While venue changes, lineup alterations and vendors pulling out can be attributed for at least part of this, we think the real problem is something different.

Most tradeshows just aren’t that fun anymore.

Before we could find anything online, tradeshows were an integral experience to hold new products, chat with experts and see how this year’s GPS units compare to last year’s or the competition. The floors looked more like 3D catalogs rather than thriving hives of chatter and hands-on learning. Here’s what we’d like to see from any large gathering of like-minded people in the future:

Attendee-centered agendas
Starting at 7am with a short morning break and a quick lunch followed by a loooooong afternoon of presentations and floor walking isn’t enticing to most attendees. While there’s always a desire to fit in as much as possible to events, how much can people possibly remember and process if force fed 6-10 hours straight?

Smaller venues
We concede that it’s hard to turn a profit in small venues, as fewer people equals fewer tickets sold equals fewer sponsorship dollars. Our solution? Make your event more enticing to attend, then charge more.

Live-streaming screens
Want to make sure people stand together and talk to each other? Mount a TV on a wall and show something interesting. It works for bars, so why not broadcast feeds from other areas of the conference, saving attendees the hassle of hoofing it from one room to another while ignoring everything else around them.