Next week we are exhibiting for the first time in 2015 at the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics Show in FIVE, Farnborough, UK (10th – 12th February stand T61). As with all exhibitions, there is a great deal of pre-show preparation and work involved that is often not even taking into consideration when assessing the cost, value and results of attending an exhibition. So in today’s digital age, do exhibitions work anymore?
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the exhibition industry was thriving. New shows were popping up everywhere and the engagement from visitors and exhibitors was fantastic. However, last year we had a number of exhibitions with two large ones called RWM and Interplas in the UK, and there just wasn’t the same buzz or excitement as there has been in the past. Many exhibitors were present because they had to be, but did not expect a wealth of leads or even visitors. There appeared to be apathy on the side of the exhibitor and the visitor.
Enticing visitors to a show appears to be getting increasingly difficult. Many people advocate that they just simply don’t have the time. Also, we are continually bombarded with news and information via our computers, tablets and phones and I wonder where people have become ‘information saturated’. Often researching a new item of equipment or service is done on the internet and so there is no need to go to an exhibition.
So what’s the benefit of going to an exhibition? It’s that one key aspect of business that even Facebook can’t replace and that is to develop face-to-face relationships. People do business with people and exhibitions provide an ideal opportunity to see old friends, suppliers, customers and meet new contacts. Southern Manufacturing gives us an opportunity to see and talk to many contacts and customers who we may not have seen for sometime. It keeps business human, but do other people feel the same way?