I believe if trade shows are expected to survive, they must incorporate more technology in functional ways, such as:
- Open the show to end consumers for crowdsourcing. Allow people to vote and rate products in real time (like Threadless did to develop an estimated 30 million dollars T-shirt company) which will generate outside buzz. It also allows wholesalers to get feedback directly from the public before manufacturing a product. Instead, they can gauge popularity, which will also help buyers and reps predict what will sell.
- Divide vendor booths into "themed" sections of the show, and create a circular seated "lounge" area in each section. Have snacks, seating and a kiosk of product powerpoint presentations in the background. This allows for relaxed social interactions among buyers and sellers.
- Plan daily free "events" and demonstrations in the booths, instead of having a static display. Have the show organizer coordinate all the events on eventbrite. Then attendees can register for the events ahead of time. Popular events can add more sections as needed.
- Use Ustream to broadcast the event as if it were a TV show.
- Do podcast interviews on the floor with key attendees, and post them on itunes.This way, anyone subscribed to the RSS feed will get it both now and in the future.
- Invite people to the show who cannot physically be there. Include them by:
-Using Google hangouts for small group meetings.-Using Google helpouts for one-on-one consultations.-Using Ohours to auto-schedule a series of virtual meetings.
-Offering live educational webinars for remote attendees.
-Allowing them to register for events which are streamed live.
- Create Youtube videos of product demonstrations in the booths. Post all videos in one location on a youtube channel.
- Use your badge QR code to download preformated digital-friendly catalogs that can be delivered to your tablet on the spot.
- Don't force buyers to take home paper that might end up in the hotel trash can. Instead offer to send documents to a person's kindle app where they can read it in leisure time or on the airplane. Optimize digital product images for mobile devices so buyers can download them, take them home and mull over products without having to go from website to website.
What are thoughts on tradeshows? Leave your comment below or on my Facebook page.