Maybe it’s Time to Rethink Tech Trade Shows

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• Trade shows are a tech staple, but compelling reasons to question them exist.

• The human interaction aspects of trade shows provide strong benefits.

The Convention. The Show. Some tech industry trade shows are so iconic that they are only known by their initials. Spring and fall trade shows are a staple, with great amounts of vendor and service provider time tied up with these conferences. Months and months of planning for attendees, speakers, sessions, food, and entertainment. Vendors have whole teams that do nothing but handle show details, booth hardware, transportation, and promotion. Somebody has to make sure the keynote intro is at an ear-splitting volume with a concert-like light show and features a walk-on song from Imagine Dragons for the CEO. A gradual shift over the last 20 years away from generalized third-party hosted shows with multiple vendors in one market have more or less yielded to vendor-specific shows, where other vendors show up, but exist in a careful détente. That has led to overall more shows each year. The big shift that had been going on was away from some cities where the costs for customers and visitors were pricing the very customers the trade shows are for out of attending.

Then COVID-19 hit. Now the spring tech show circuit is looking pretty grim with cancellations abounding. Even the storied service provider focused Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled, for very understandable reasons. With the next few months of conferences either cancelled or imperiled, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the concept of the ‘big tech conference’ overall. Because sometimes the convention ends and the thought occurs: Was travel really necessary for that information? Continue reading “Maybe it’s Time to Rethink Tech Trade Shows”