Trade Shows, Can’t Live with Them. Can’t Live without Them. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

GOOD: The 2012 AHR Show in Chicago broke its own records with 58,000 attendees, from 36 different countries, offering 100 educational sessions. Trade Shows are big, big, money — and the A-teams from most every control manufacturer and original equipment manufacturer on the planet are there with their A-games, showcasing their greenest, most efficient, and newest technologies. An economic truce has been called on the competitive battlefield and the scene is a vendor’s paradise: A captive audience in an appreciative carnival atmosphere, and who can knock the fabulous receptions that follow!

BAD: Looking behind the curtain we see that of the 58,000 attendees, 18,000 (31%) were exhibitors! Over 6,000 were international visitors (10%). I’m not sure those numbers indicate an upswing in the economy or the high watermarks of an exploding star.

While big things can and do start from small conversations at any one of the infinite number of booths and the potential energy inside the convention center is literally palpable, it suddenly reaches a saturation point and the whole efficacy of the trade show comes into question! Were the airfare, hotel, and lost opportunity costs worth it?

Plus, many niche trade shows, or Summits, or Momentums, or vendor specific shows have gained so much ground that some of the largest and important manufacturers aren’t performing under the big top anymore requiring attendance at another show, sometimes within a month from each other. Decisions have to be made.

UGLY: Absence used to speak louder than words; now it is verification of these other options. Perhaps much of the networking, information gathering, and the resume-Rama are now citizens of the Internet. And many of the old ways of personal and professional business, made in sincere enthusiasm and sealed with a handshake, have become illusions of promises that start fading at the airport departure gates.

ControlTrends Community, let’s hear it from you! You get to go to one show this year, which will it be: AHR, HARDI, or the MCAA? I really need your response on this one. I got money riding on it!

DId I tell you that while I feign indifference, these shows come on me like the start of the next football season. My boss on the other hand, believing he’s funding another frat party, surprised me with his new co-pay strategy. Times are changing!

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4 Responses

  1. I think AHR is the best show in the industry, bar none! The right mix of meetings, show time, and entertainment. Long live the AHR Show!

  2. Sarah Connor here, and you know that I have seen the future! Enjoy your trade shows like the moms with toddlers enjoy play groups. Yes, it is very important, and yes, you need to choose a play group where the nice friends share, and the mean friends stay away. Little kids learn a lot about sharing and how things work by playing in play groups, but as kids grow up, they find it more productive to ditch the play group and start playing baseball and dancing and doing gymnastics with other kids growing up just like them. You’re growing up, Controls Industry! Now go find others who work and think like you so that you can feed off each other’s enthusiasm for the sport. And these current trade shows will also begin to fine-tune their direction and appeal to meet your interests. Hey Clint! Great topic! I say that the “Control Trends Community” (CTC) is the place for like-minded forward-thinkers to find each other!

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