Weekly News & Insights from SXSW … and the Vatican?

What-happensIf you’re familiar with SXSW, you know the legendary event is a hub for cutting-edge ideas and technology, and this year’s SXSW Interactive trade show (SXSWi) in Austin was no disappointment. Some of the innovations taking center stage included smart goggles that relay messages to the wearer, 3D laser printers that create realistic objects, and a monitor on wheels that allows you to have an person-to-person conversation with someone far away. For more details, check out this article and slide show from CultureMap Austin. Perhaps all three of these inventions might make their way to a trade show near you in the not-so-distant future: the goggles for attendee interaction, 3D printers that print out samples of your product, and the robotic-style monitors for taking the show to a virtual audience (i.e. companies who rent out the monitors to attendees who don’t have travel budgets but want to walk the show, or exhibitors who want extra staff in the booth during select hours). How do you see these technologies in use on the show floor?

The selection of Pope Francis, the first pope chosen from the Americas, made news this week. But did you know that events at the Vatican also contained lessons for exhibitors and show organizers? The first one stems from the Vatican’s social media policy where secrecy was tightly enforced and cardinals were told that no tweeting was allowed with the end result being a fever-pitched mania where people (including the media) scrambled to find out any tiny details they could about the proceedings. The lesson? Sometimes being tight-lipped can work in your favor to create mystery and intrigue. The second lesson also relates to social media, but this time focuses on the attendees … and this time a photo is worth a thousand words. Check out this side-by-side Twitter photo comparison of the difference between 2005’s audience waiting for the announcement of Pope Benedict (during early stages of smart devices) and this year’s crowd of amateur videographers. Makes you wonder how much longer the “no photos allowed on the show floor” rule can possibly be enforced (or is it even now)?

In other industry news:

The travel industry is bracing for the fallout from Congress’ sequestration plan. Besides the nearly immediate cuts announced to government agency travel budgets (meaning less attendance at meetings and trade shows), there are also massive hits to three agencies that affect a huge percentage of business travelers: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In addition, several military shows have either been scaled back or canceled due to decreased support from the Department of Defense and military branches.



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