In any industry, there are companies and individuals who aren’t willing to do things “the way we’ve always done them.” In the trade show world however, it often seems there’s a steeper climb to break out of the same-old, same-old. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are a few shows that are looking beyond what’s always worked to find ways to innovate at recent events:
- The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show took the New Products Showcase idea to a whole new level with three areas specifically for first-time and featured exhibitors at various locations throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center. Upon entering the Showcase area, attendees get a free scanner so they can scan all the products that interest them. When they return the scanner, they get a printout of product information and how to find the exhibitors they’re interested in. For exhibitors, the first product registered is free, so everyone has a fair shot of being showcased. As a bonus, the area gets lots of media attention and there’s the opportunity to receive a New Product Award.
Is this idea complicated? No. Revolutionary? Not really … it simply takes a long-standing traditional feature and makes it more interactive and useful. Could other shows add this feature? Absolutely!
- It’s no surprise that the National Association of Broadcasters has a live news studio broadcasting from the show floor. But how they’ve changed it up is that NAB Show Studio 1 is actually in the lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to two live shows per day, there are also recorded clips from the show floor that are broadcast to various “Arcades” around the show. These Arcade areas offer attendees a place to relax and recharge — both themselves and their devices. So what was once a tiny corner of the show floor is a truly multi-purpose area: studio, lounge and charging stations all in one which becomes a destination for attendees. Check out a video tour of the studio and control room on YouTube.
Can every show afford to have a full-blown news studio and control room onsite? Probably not. But virtually any show can find a way to create more engaging lounge areas in locations around the convention center. (Hint: Sponsorship dollars!)
- Everyone’s talking event apps vs. paper show guides, but one show put their money where their mouth is. Last fall, the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) conference gave every attendee a Samsung Galaxy tablet preloaded with all the conference materials. Having a sea of devices allowed conference organizers to upload all presentation slides, as well as offer easy check-in at educational sessions so attendees receive CEU credits. The tablets are theirs to keep and content will continue to be delivered periodically throughout the year. Samsung sponsored the tablets, which were simply a replacement for the printed materials.
So should every show organizer contact Samsung or some other manufacturer for a sponsorship of tablets for attendees? No. But there’s no reason that companies within your industry couldn’t sponsor the purchase of devices. (Although keep in mind that at some point soon there will be saturation on tablets within your audience, so if you want to implement this idea, now is the time.)
- The International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago features a more low-tech, grassroots innovation: they play matchmaker for exhibitors and local charities. Five charities (the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Greater Illinois Chapter, Marklund Children’s Home, Sertoma Centre Inc., Family Shelter Service, and The Salvation Army) received products from 225 exhibitors when the show closed. Volunteers from each charity are responsible for packing up and removing the products donated and must report to show management a list of exhibitors they’re collecting from. Items are used as auction items at fundraisers or sold in the charity’s resale shop. Exhibitors love it because they don’t have to ship items back after the show and they’re helping out a worthy cause.
Could any show, in any city make this work? Absolutely! While there are logistics to be considered, the basic concept isn’t that complex.
For more trailblazing ideas, check out this post.
Bottom line: Blazing trails isn’t that difficult. There are many ways to innovate and create engagement, memories, and positive feelings about your show.
Want to learn more about trailblazing shows and their secrets for success? Watch for an upcoming series profiling some of the most successful trade shows and how they got to where they are.