Opinion Article 4 July 2014
Cornell Research: The Future of Tradeshows: Evolving Trends, Preferences, and Priorities
By HyunJeong “Spring” Han Ph.D. and Rohit Verma Ph.D.
By Rohit Verma, Professor at Cornell School of Hotel Administration
Executive Summary: Far from supplanting trade shows, technology has augmented the shows' interactive, informational aspect by increasing potential contacts and scheduling efficiency for participants. However, the tradeshow itself remains an essential vehicle for selling products and services, explaining and demonstrating the product, and creating lists of qualified buyers. Whereas the tradeshow exhibitors are focused on sales and prospects, this study finds a complementary set of goals by attendees, who are more interested in the show's educational aspects (including learning about useful products). Successful execution of a tradeshow requires careful planning and coordination between different stakeholders (i.e., attendees, exhibitors, meeting planners, destination executives). In addition to integrating social media and mobile technology, tradeshows also are focusing on environmental sustainability and providing information for participants' corporate-social responsibility interests. Based on focus groups, interviews, and a survey of over 2,500 tradeshow participants, the top reason for exhibitors to attend a show involves their sales goals, while the top purpose for attendees is education. Ironically, although a substantial number of tradeshow participants appreciate the available technology, another substantial group either doesn't notice the technology or avoids using it.
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