What if They Held a Trade Show and Nobody Came?
The other day a vendor called to ask if I could verify which of its competitors were or were not going to AIIM/
By Noel Ward
Published: March 4, 2009
The other day a vendor called to ask if I could verify which of its competitors were or were not going to AIIM/On Demand. They seemed to be considering a last-minute reduction in booth size, bringing less stuff, or maybe even bailing all together. They weren't the only ones. I've been getting calls, emails, and have had numerous conversations about AIIM/On Demand. The first question is, "What are you hearing?" It's quickly followed by "Are you going? And "For how long?" The answers are, nothing good, yes, and not very. And it's worth noting that as of today, three weeks from opening, plenty of rooms are still available at the "show hotels" in Philadelphia.
These calls say a lot about how our industry is changing. Eight years ago I predicted that equipment vendors would increase their investments in demo centers and cut back on shows. That's happened. The personalized experience customers get from a couple of days on the vendor's own turf trumps a trade show anytime in terms understanding what they get for their investment, building relationships and closing a deal. For vendors, providing customized hands-on demonstrations and connecting prospects with layers of expertise offers a lot more bang for the buck than chatting up tire-kickers a trade show. Shows are still good for leads, but are hardly the only way to get them.
When the dust settles on whatever will be the new normal, I think the last show standing will be Graph Expo/Print, and maybe Graphics of the Americas. PMA will continue, but it's not really a print show. These will be supplemented by conferences with a show component. Dscoop, for example, will likely grow and become more important for its community of users. Xplor has shrunk over time, but still pulls in a specific audience. There are others, too. But the age of having multiple large print shows has clearly past. And I don't see any mourners.