Trade Shows, Technology, Buyer and Seller Interactions
We are living in a world where the needs of trade show participants (both buyer and seller alike) are becoming more sophisticated. Trade show attendees have come to expect business interactions that are both valuable and relevant. The ROI entitlement for participation has become a standard in the industry.
This post explores the reason for the existence of trade shows, the pervasive role of technology in this space, as well as paints the ideal scenario for organizers and participating attendees.
1. What are trade show and what are they for?
Trade shows are temporary deal-making marketplaces. Tens of thousands of buyers and sellers converge into a controlled area to discuss a myriad of topics that would eventually (and hopefully) result in closed deals. For many participants, the investment of attending a trade show is equated to a year’s worth of critical deal-making conversations compressed into a span of just a few days. This is especially so for international participants who visit the show from overseas. Once the show is over, this temporary marketplace is literally torn down and dismantled to make way for the next trade show. Success rates are largely measured by the total number of meaningful face-to-face exchanges between attending participants. Post-show successes are determined by the number of actual deals closed from qualified leads gotten at the trade show.
2. What’s role does technology play?
Technology has been and will always continue to be a deal-making enabler at trade shows. Technology is only a tool and as with all tools it needs to be used properly for the user to reap the full benefits. There are applications that enable both buyers and sellers to find each other quickly, and even to pre-book meetings well in advance of the show. If done properly, this data could be instrumental in helping organizers track measurable ROIs for their customer and adjust their engagement to deliver the accurate value to the customer. Other technologies include smart directories or lead retrieval scanners for swifter swapping of contacts. Yet there’s often a nagging sentiment among attendees that they have missed a few (sometime more than a few) key connections. Who should I have met but didn’t? The holy grail for organizers is having ability to understand your customers explicitly and implicitly through insights gleaned from the way they interact. Success with that would significantly improve the trade show value proposal and justify all associated participation expenses. With technology the haphazard marketplace of a trade show becomes a tightly connect buy-sell ecosystem.
3. What’s the ideal scenario and how to I achieve it?
This is an ideal scenario. Your pre-registration numbers would increase dramatically. Participants would want to enter the buy-sell ecosystem as soon as they can to identify and schedule meetings with key contacts well in advance. Your customer retention rate would increase. With the data collected, it won’t be difficult for you or even your customers to conduct proper ROI reporting based on their participation. As the organizer, you would be able to leverage on the data collected to value-add the content and ensure a high level of relevancy in the list of participants attending. In all cases, you would have sufficient credible data to increase your charges proportionately to the increase in value that you offer. Putting you in the drivers seat would also allow for more personalized engagement to attendees.
To achieve this your customers need to be onboard with you. Apart from their participation, they need to provide you with relevant data that you can amass and analyze. Would you agree that customers are willing to relinquish their valuable behavioral data in exchange for measurable value in return?
Once this mountain of data is collected, it is worthless unless there is a structured in place for compiling and analyzing everything. It can either become a blur of information, or an incredible tool for bringing your events to the next level of greatness. The potential is there and it’s ultimately up to each show what to make of it. The trade show industry is in a disruptive revolution with technology as its only true differentiator. Organizers who deploy it wisely will seize significant reward while those who hesitate would struggle to survive.