New Media Expo Founder Thinking About Quitting The Tradeshow BusinessAug 20th, 2008 | By James Lewin | Category: Podcasting Events
He cites five reasons – reasons that he feels “threaten the very industry itself”:
- High speed Internet costs. Nearly all convention centers have long-term, exclusive agreements in place with high speed Internet providers and the prices they are charging are ludicrous.
- Drayage. Drayage is the fee to have your booth shipment taken from the convention center dock at the back of the hall to your booth. It almost always cost more to transport a large box 50 yards from the roll-up doors of the exhibit hall to the booth than it does to ship it from New York City to Las Vegas.
- The Pay to Play Mentality. There are plenty of conference organizers out there willing to put a VP of Business Development on some crummy panel in return for money. Unsurprisingly, that speaker then spends his time on the panel discussing how great their company’s product or service is, subjecting the attendee who paid $995 or more to a live commercial.
- Room Blocks & Attrition. In order to use three ballrooms and two smaller meeting rooms, most hotels want at least 2,000 room nights in the contract and a minimum of $50,000 in food & beverage orders AND a rental fee for the space.
- Lack of Control Over The Customer Experience There are too many vendors that exhibitors have to deal with for even a small booth. All of those touchpoints and contacts are out of a show organizer’s control. Because vendor deals are typically exclusive, they have no incentive to treat exhibitors well.
Bourquin offers a lot more detail and some possible solutions at his site.
Do Tech Tradeshows Still Matter?
Beyond the challenges Bourquin cites, though, there’s the challenge of keeping a technology event relevant in an age of Twitter and ubiquitous blogging, and podcasting.
Does it make sense to even have a new media tradeshow? In many ways, this seems like an old media approach to covering new media.
Tradeshows are encumbered with a lot of old-media baggage. And, as Sara Lacy’s SXSW interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out, people are no longer willing to sit through a presentation that is not compelling.
Tradeshows also face competition from unconference-style events, like PodCamp and WordCamp. These events are cheap to put on and are usually closely aligned with what people are interested in, because they are organized by attendees.
I think there’s still a place for the type of tradeshow that Bourquin wants to do – but tech tradeshows need a radical overhaul in order to maintain their value.