One Lesson I Learned at Tradeshow Week

With perfect hindsight about my years as editor in chief of the now-defunct Tradeshow Week, I have one regret: That we focused too much on news concerning the largest shows and the mega industry trends, all but ignoring the smaller work-a-day shows that flourish in the shadow of the International CES’s and the NAB Shows of the world.

With perfect hindsight about my years as editor in chief of the now-defunct Tradeshow Week, I have one regret: That we focused too much on news concerning the largest shows and the mega industry trends, all but ignoring the smaller work-a-day shows that flourish in the shadow of the International CES’s and the NAB Shows of the world.

However – and not that this can make up for my past misdeeds – there was news last week of two major shows that have announced significant changes that could teach organizers of smaller shows something: 

Deutsche Messe is canceling the next edition of CEBIT and Reed Exhibitions will not hold its Agenda Winter Long Beach in January.

Each news item though carries a “but” with it.

Said Jochen Kockler, CEO of Deutsche Messe, “We are currently examining the digital market to determine which remaining CEBIT topics we will develop into new events.”

And a new improved Agenda Winter Long Beach will resurface  as a B2C “festival” that will, according to a press release “merge streetwear, sports, lifestyle and fashion with music, art, food and education.”

Both major show organizers are facing the fact that the marketplace that each event serves has changed.

You have to give Deutsche Messe credit for hanging on with CEBIT for about 15 years after it became clear that, with the demise of COMDEX, there was no longer a need for a horizontal trade show in the IT market.

Ron Walden, vice president of fashion and lifestyles for Reed’s RX Group said, “The business of fashion for our customers has changed dramatically over the past five years. That makes meaningful experiences with consumers more important than ever for our customer brands, both big and small.”

So what is the lesson the small annual state trade association show or the niche event that thinks it has its market covered can take from this?

That you and your show are not the center of your community’s universe. That brands are always finding new ways to connect with their markets and your followers are always discovering new platforms with which to link up with one another.

Make your end-of-the-year musing a time to reexamine the role your event plays in the life of the industry and community it serves. What changes do you need to make to remain the place everybody wants to be?

Michael Hart is an event consultant and conference content professional. He can be reached at michaelhart@michaelgenehart.com, @michaelgenehart or 323-441-9654.

Author: Michael Hart

I focus on helping companies and organizations associated with events, destination marketing and business travel create and market the best products and services possible. I can assist with project management services, providing content and strategic planning.

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