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Death By Trade Show?

August 22, 2018
Author: Jasmine Waters

Earlier this month came the news that Swiss watch giant Swatch Group would no longer be taking part in the Baselworld watch and jewellery fair, only adding to the increasing concerns that trade shows themselves are on a downward spiral. In a statement, the group established “Everything has become faster, more transparent and more instantaneous, so now we need another rhythm and another format”, only beginning to hint at the problems the modern trade show set-up has. There is a real threat of collapse, as we continue to see attendance lower, with start-ups and fringe brands mostly making up the numbers. It’s now time for the ‘trade show’ to be re-invented, making them a ‘must’ once again – but how effectively can organisers do this?

Know What’s Happening and Move with Change

Being able to identify trends in the market and the wider world is something essential for any trade show organiser, ensuring what is appearing or presented is actually resonating with its attendees. Aside from competitive price points, this could start with the idea of increased interactivity. We all know that technology such as Virtual Reality is more popular and accessible than ever before, and is also a great example of how trade shows could incorporate more interactivity into their overall experience. If displays are more interactive, they are proven to increase audience engagement as well as interest in products or services being showcased. This leads into more data gathering, with the likes of mobile apps allowing attendees to immediately register interest and give real-time feedback – perfect for allowing organisers to adjust and adapt to what is and isn’t working. This is also great for improving relationships with both exhibitors and attendees, and makes information finding a lot easier!

Make Every Choice Personal

With all this new data acquired, a deeper level of personalisation can take place. Organisers can understand what appeals to who, and focus time and energy on attracting those who may not be so aware. Personal marketing strategies such as tailored welcome messages and diversified advertising can help to increase intrigue and make the entire experience from start to finish feel fresh and different. Don’t forget to neglect social media – a free and simple way of keeping up with the times and forging more personal connections with potential exhibitors. Use geo-locations to reach out to those outside contact realms, and take interest in what their businesses have to offer. The potential and exposure possibilities are huge!

If you Don’t Ask, you Don’t Get…

As a brand or exhibitor, there are also a number of questions to ensure you ask an organiser to make sure you would be getting the most out of a show, or to decide if it is right for you. For example, establishing what sort of traffic you will get will check the organisers are bringing the right quantity and quality of visitors. Other key points to check could be how long the event has been running for, why they should be chosen over their competitors and the extremely important “what’s in it for me?”. If the organisers are ticking all the right boxes and the brand booths are bringing their A-game, there should be no reason shows can’t be a ‘trade-do’ and not a ‘trade-don’t’…


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