So What’s New?

A few weeks ago, EXPO featured an article on the “Anti-Trade Show.” To be honest, I don’t see a big difference in what Dwell Media produces versus your garden-variety expo—except that it was a hybrid—in the traditional sense of allowing consumers as well as business-to-business folks into the event.

In my opinion the differences weren’t substantial enough to be an “anti” anything. There were booths. There were badges and registration. There were aisles. The show was laid out to maximize revenue. There were sponsorships. There were common areas. There was a sense of community. So I have to ask: What made it so different? Not much.

Plenty of manufacturing shows set up demonstration areas integrating multiple exhibitors’ products and equipment to build or make things. What about restaurant shows with chef demonstrations or woodworking shows building furniture then donating it? Is building five houses on site so dramatically different from other expos? Not to me.

For those of you who read these blogs regularly (and thanks!), you know I’ve been cleaning out my office, sharing “gems” from years ago. The one true fact I’ve realized in the process is that things in our business haven’t really changed that much in the last 40 or so years. Tradeshows and variations thereof bring buyers and sellers from industries (or sectors of industries) together in a face-to-face environment. As technology has developed, it’s been incorporated into the experience. (Anyone remember when the Internet was the next BIG THREAT?)

However, the article got me thinking about what our industry will look like in 20 years. Will there still be booths? What will they look like? How much will be virtual or augmented reality? How much IRL (in real life)? How do you see our industry of the future? Because an “anti” something is a thing. Or not.

What are your thoughts on what the expo industry will look like in 2032?


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 →