Rethinking Tradeshows

I’ve been thinking that many industry tradeshows need to be turned on their heads. At one time, they were necessary to showcase new products and meet new business partners.  But today, the majority of those activities are done everyday, online.  Shows have also been leveraged as branding and PR tools – but to me, if your not really showcasing anything new, that’s a waste of money.

The exciting events – the ones that attract real talent and innovation – are either providing super compelling experiences for their attendees (SXSW), or they are engaging on a whole other level (Comic-Con). This takes creative thinking from the show management to create real and memorable experiences for exhibitors, attendees and press.

What about reviving the dusty old tradeshows with themes? Manufacturing & design shows could host a show-wide competition to develop tools to improve lives in developing countries.  Show management could partner with companies like X Prize.  Imagine the exposure for both the show and the participating companies if you did this right…

Or, how about ditching the old outdated shows all together and using your budget on sponsorships for the interesting events like the Maker Faire.

Just some thoughts and rants for the day.  What do you think?