Did Yogi Berra predict the event industry’s current behavior?
I’m not sure where my current déjà vu is coming from, but we’ve definitely been here before. And to really torture the sports metaphor in this season of March Madness and spring training, I’m thinking about the importance of blocking and tackling, of sticking to game plan, keeping your eye on the ball, of the lessons from the real Great Race – The Tortoise and the Hare.
I’m thinking about the rush many event professionals now have toward the rapid embrace of anything social, mobile, virtual or hybrid. I’m a big fan of most all of that myself – and my company brings a lot of these new technologies to the game – but still…
While all this interest and energy is exciting – and important – I’m sensing it could be coming at the expense of the core elements of the event.
I’m afraid that being lost in all this emphasis on the virtual and social aspects surrounding the event, is that the ‘actual’ participants – the actual attendees and the actual exhibitors – the ones who actually travel and attend – might be getting short thrift.
Today’s press is full of stories about exhibitors finding their voice and taking more control over their relationships with events – and with their customers (a.k.a. the attendees!).
The current Trade Show Week features a story about just that – exhibitors demanding more from show organizers – and staying away when they don’t get it.
The New York Times recently wrote about the rise in outboarding. That story highlights the hotel industry’s dilemma, but what is also in there is that ‘exhibitors’ are increasingly taking control over how they reach customers.
And it’s not just the exhibitors. Last month’s real-time morphing of ASAE’s Tech10 Conference into #untech10 demonstrated an incredibly rapid example of ‘customers’ taking control.
To get a good sense of what the new gameplans look like, make sure you read this CEIR report: “Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century”. It not only covers what attendees expect around the event – but what they demand at the event.
While pre-show planning, online agendas, social networking, mobile access, post-show web tools – and even hybridization – are all part of today’s and tomorrow’s events, organizers must still master the basics and remember: the floor is still core.
Are we doing enough at the event and on the show floor to keep our attendees and exhibitors coming back for more?
Adding value by providing an enhanced experience, better connections, great traffic with great leads, and a good return on investment will result in a win-win-win for everyone.
Show organizers need to keep focus on the playing field and stay true to the actual event.
“It’s like déjà vu all over again!” just as Yogi predicted.