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August 09, 2004

Reinventing the Trade Show

I always feel like such a synchophant when I do a trackback to Godin.

Anyway, Sue Pelletier beat me to this post from Godin on 'starting over' as it might apply to meetings in general.

One of the inside jokes at every IAEM meeting is that "If we had the opportunity to recreate the trade show industry from scratch, it wouldn't look anything like it does."

But who's got the stugots do it differently? In Godin's post, he suggests that Chinese government is autocratic enough to impose its will on what a car for its citizenry should look like. And in doing so, they could create an entirely new idea of "the car". Unfortunately, China hasn't done this with trade shows. The same tired models used across Asia have been already been implemented.

But what if that wasn't the case. And what if we could develop new models for say, Iraq (only using them as its convenient). Or what if you were to launch a competitive show against one of the big boys in the US? What might you do? Here are some ideas, some of which progressive organizers are already implementing:

- Exhibitors:
* low cost or free area for small companies to introduce themselves to your audience
* new product introduction area for attendees and press
* one set price for exhibits, including drayage and common services
* universal or open source lead acquisition and management applications
* matchmaking services - including technology that 'pings' attendees to matches on the exhibit floor
* continuous post-show lead generation and on-demand estimates/purchase capability
* aesthetically appealing modular exhibits to replace pipe-and-drape
* pre-screened attendance
* traffic monitors throughout venue - could be used to monetize specific positions
* full, accurate (and honest) reporting of attendee data according to BPA or other standards
* alternative space designs - concentric circles, triangular booths, etc.

Attendees:
* portable "badges" - usable for any show, anywhere
* 8-minute dating concepts used to interview exhibitors or network with other attendees
* speaker mentoring post-event for conference attendees
* availability of on-demand cable (broadband) convention television programming
* attendee-driven meetings/sessions
* 'reward programs' for attendees who purchase from exhibitors as a direct result of attending
* feedback loop mechanisms for attendees to rate exhibitors and influence exhibitor behavior
* non-traditional sponsorships, i.e. consumer products at B2B events

Infrastructure:
* labor selection, usage and pricing
* privately financed and operated venues with private labor
* personal climate controls in meeting rooms
* attrition-free hotel agreements based on total dollar spend, not room bookings or other model
* wireless access everywhere

These are just a few ideas off the top of one person's head. If you had the opportunity to start from scratch, what would you do differently? It's a question that demands consideration. And I think you'll find that for many of the ideas you come up with, there's really no reason to wait.


05:49 PM in TSMR Rants | Permalink

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