How to Transform the Expo Experience

The good news? Exhibitions can be transformative. The bad? Most are not.

Last week I talked about making our expos and events transformative. This week, #ExpoChat, a weekly tweet chat focused on the exhibition industry, discussed the subject. There is good news and bad.

The good news? Exhibitions can be transformative. The bad? Most are not. In fact, participants were hard pressed to come up with more than a few examples of expos that transform—Abilities Expo and the NAMM show were the two clear winners.

Conferences with white space (time for attendees to interact with each other and NOT be in class) are much more likely to create a transformative experience than expos. If we don’t allow our attendees time to digest the information being shared, it never sinks in.

The consensus of the group—made up of organizers, media, exhibitors and suppliers—is that a transformative event extends beyond the event itself and is a change of perspective or action. Experiential is still an integral part of the expo/event world, and is not dead.

As Michelle Bruno, Bruno Group Signature Events and the Event Tech Brief, said, they are “two different things for me. Experience is a process. Transformation is an outcome.”

Traci Browne, of the Trade Show Institute, added, “It has to stay with you for long after the event…not just a good feeling for a few days.” She later added, “You can pretty much tell within an hour of arriving if the organizer is just in it for the money.”

So, for those show organizers thinking attendees don’t notice the same old stuff, different day—or are scrimping on the details—you’re wrong.

At the end of the hour, I asked the group about finding the “secret sauce” in making our expos and events transformational. Browne summed it up perfectly:

First, start looking at the data you collect and figure out what your attendees really want—then give it to them and, second, an event that puts its attendees needs first will end up transformational.

What’s your secret sauce for making your expos and events even better for your stakeholders?

Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.

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Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter @stephselesnick.  ... View all articles by Stephanie Selesnick →