poor business practices – a view from the top

This post is for:

• Anyone who has every attended a trade show for any business so you’ll know why they may be changing drastically or going away entirely (so your sales, networking and educational opportunities may start to evaporate)
• Anyone who has ever exhibited at a trade show so you’ll know your dissatisfaction was and is not singular (so your marketing and sales plan will change and the thumpings you’ve received from your CFO on expenses may have to finally be heeded)
• Anyone who is in the trade show industry so you’ll know why you may be losing your job and who is responsible (in many cases, you may be part of the problem and if its not you, you know who it is)


Trade shows (like the recent VOICES, or SXSW or CES – The Consumer Electronics Show and hundreds more) are extremely valuable to exhibitors and attendees alike for networking, education, new product roll out, sales, client retention and hospitality among a myriad of positives.

Trade shows are also now more than ever ridiculously expensive to produce, travel to and exhibit in because of costs like hotels, food and beverage, exhibit hall and union fees as just a few of the myriad of prohibitive negatives.

I have personally produced, from the exhibitor side of things, many tradeshows from small 100 person gatherings to exhibits in the top 10 biggest trade shows in the country. The negatives are starting to significantly outweigh the positives for exhibitors and this valuable and worthwhile marketing channel is in trouble.

And this pending change, this economically mandated evolution if you will, will impact your business no matter what it is and no matter whether you are an exhibitor, an attendee or a show producer.

Direct your attention, if you will to a blog post by Tim Bourquin, who owns TNC New Media, a company that produces multiple trade shows each year.

The post offers a fairly naked behind the scenes view of the problems with the trade show industry. You should read the whole thing. He’s saying exhibitors and attendees can spend their marketing dollars elsewhere and will. That is a smack on the back of the head of the trade show industry from one of its benefactors.

Convention Centers are going to be in trouble if they don’t change their ways, trade unions and non-union workers in these facilities are going to be out of job if they don’t significantly adjust their attitudes and convention dependent hotels and vendors are going lose more money than they could ever have possibly imagined.

Trade shows as we know them WILL change. The internet has given people the knowledge that bigger is not always better. That centralization (having one big industry convention) is effective only to a point and that “point” will be determined by cost. That threshold, Bourquin’s blog post and my experience tells me, is now cracking.

Is it the end of the world? No.

But the evolution, in my opinion, will be drastic. So what’s it to you? If you don’t think the trade show industry touches your personal business, industry and global economies like a largely mutated octopus, you are not paying attention.

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