Originally published by Trade Show Executive November 2017 Edition
Technology has become the number one influencer in most business models, and the exhibitions and events industry is no different. We have seen the demand for the latest innovations at trade shows transition from novelty to necessity as the strategies for creating outstanding attendee experiences flourish. And while the face-to-face interaction that trade shows offer is not going anywhere anytime soon, it does beg the question as to how these new technologies will integrate into the traditional model that has been in place for so long.
IAEE is embracing these cutting-edge technologies by delving into how they work and how they can be used to increase a show’s return on investment (ROI). As those who attended the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Predict Conference this past September learned, forward-thinking show organizers are adopting an open-source approach to collecting data and using this data to achieve different business objectives. Their call to action encourages organizers to determine how to shift from heavy reliance on survey data and other metrics based on historic information, to capturing data that helps the organization predict and change the future. This strategy emphasizes using analytics to support design changes that create an impactful attendee experience both on and off the show floor.
And if you want to get really intense, team this use of data with neuroscience techniques – another burgeoning industry trend – and now you are engaging the attendee on all sensory levels. Because that is where the industry is headed: research informed, data guided and experience designed. If it sounds wild, it’s because it is – at least for those of us who have seen a show or two over the decades. Trade shows are evolving into a very interesting mix of futuristic approaches applied to good, old-fashioned human behavior. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, given all the options and possible uses.
Which is exactly why this month at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in San Antonio, IAEE will present a series of sessions on data-guided solutions. These sessions explore the gamut of digital trends and how they can be used. Data collection techniques such as websites, mobile apps, second screen, lead retrieval, social media and customer relationship management (CRM) tools will be examined. Digital marketing strategies such as email, video content, search advertising, display advertising, in-app advertising, social media marketing, virtual marketing and e-commerce will be explored.
Expo! Expo! is the show for shows, therefore one of its main objectives is to feature emerging technologies and how they can be applied to the exhibitions and events industry. One of the industry’s hottest trends is augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and those will be showcased through Feathr’s VR Activation experience. This hands-on demonstration will offer Expo! Expo! attendees the opportunity to engage in technology activations that allow them to see their attendee journey come to life thru VR. Along with a tech start up competition, tech use cases, a technology pavilion on the show floor and tech huddles throughout the three-day show, we are committed to bringing emerging technologies and new experiences to our attendees.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, exhibitions and events remain a face-to-face business environment amidst these amazing new technologies. Nothing can replace the value of trade shows and as CEIR research re-affirmed in its latest quarterly report in August, we can expect our industry to continue its upward trend. Embracing the latest technologies and finding how best to apply them to our industry’s needs, is key to maintaining a robust and relevant presence in the overall business market. After all, exhibitions mean business and that’s how we intend to keep it.
I look forward to seeing you – in person – at Expo! Expo! in San Antonio.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO