Is It Still Worth Attending Trade Conferences?

Is It Still Worth Attending Trade Conferences


Ashley Andrews is a writer and business whiz. Originally from the Mid-West, she now resides in Southern California. She is enjoying being self employed and self motivated. When she’s not blogging you can find her nose deep in a good book.


Another CES has come and gone. By all accounts, it was well attended. There is no sign that CES will be going the way of the dodo anytime soon. But it is one of the few conferences that has managed to remain healthy through the last decade of change.

Go back a little further, and the world was a very different place with no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Vine, Periscope, YouTube, or any of the other services currently indispensable for instant, worldwide news, photo, and video sharing.

Now that a significant portion of the population of the developed world is walking around with pocket computers with all this functionality and near ubiquitous high-speed access to the internet, springing for the expense and inconvenience of trade conferences has become a rather questionable proposition.

Therefore, the question of whether or not you should attend the next trade conference is an open one. It is not just a matter of attending trade conferences, but whether or not it is worth hosting one. There is no one right answer that applies to everyone in every situation. Here are some of the factors to consider:

Engagement

Whether hosting or attending, you want the highest possible engagement. Mere attendance is not enough. If you are hosting a conference, you have to use every tool available to boost attendee engagement. Among the most powerful tools for this are mobile conference apps that are custom designed with robust features. These features include:

  • Activity feeds
  • Gamification
  • Live poling and Q&A
  • Surveys
  • Ratings and reviews

Let’s face it: These days, attendees are going to be looking down at their smartphones a lot. They are going to be engaged with someone’s app. They might as well be engaged with a conference app with your brand on it.

If you are attending a conference, the first thing you do is search for the app long before you get there. Conference apps often have perks like a way to chat with other attendees, a map of the facilities and surrounding area, and most importantly, the schedule of events plus any changes. With the right app platform, there is something in it for everyone. That something is engagement.

Money

When it comes to trade conferences such as those put on for marketing, money is most definitely an object. There are more demands on the budget than ever before, and less budget to go around. Companies have to eek out as much value for the dollar as possible. It is very difficult to justify an expense for something that could have been attained another, much less expensive way.

What do you get from trade conferences that you couldn’t get some other way? You can get complete transcripts and every graph on every slide deck. Often, you can stream the videos of all the sessions.

What you cannot get is the opportunity to ask questions and follow up with questions to the experts. You don’t get to have hands-on demonstrations of products that have a visceral appeal. You don’t get to shake hands with peopleyou only know as voices and avatars online, exchange business cards, and increase the value of your personal network.

At the end of the day, these things are still worth a lot of money. You just have to make the calculation that it is less about the sessions and more about everything else.

First-mover Advantage

It is unfortunate that the world often rewards the first mover over the best mover. But the sad truth is that in many cases, it is still the early bird that catches the worm. Trade shows are where early birds gather.

By the time the good stuff from the trade shows is online, your competitors already have a jump on implementation. One of the reasons you are always a little behind is because you are never there when the news is made.

Even if you decide that trade shows are generally worth it, they are not all worth it. You have to decide which ones are most worth it to you. Carefully weigh the factors of engagement, money, and first-mover advantage. If your reason for wanting to go involves after-parties with your friends, stay home.

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