Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life-Support for a Dying Trade Show?

When a trade show is canceled, or "postponed" as the PR might phrase it, what happens to the participants who have marked the event on their calendars to go meet industry peers and learn what is going on with competitors? Or was the event 'postponed' because the intended audiences never showed enough interest? Perhaps they get the knowledge and competitive information constantly via the web, and did not care enough about the block party?

One user-conference was canceled because its main sponsor pulled out, followed by a lot of finger-pointing and the threat of law-suits. I suspect that the cancellation of a trade show brings along a lot of heart-break for the creators, loss through refunds, write-offs, loss of goodwill and loss of jobs and contracts. If that is the case, does the brand have a chance for revival?

In mid-September 2001, when a major IT security conference in Europe was hurting because conference attendees were not eager to board planes, they turned to us for a virtual trade show as an interim measure for that year, and later bounced right back into their regular schedule.

Recently Digital Life Expo announced a cancellation of their fall event citing current economic climate. Does it mean that the brand will be shelved for some time or for ever?

Is it possible that when trade show brands change hands some of the original flavor and passion of the creators is lost? Comdex is no longer around in its original form, although the domain name was owned by CMP Media when I checked. Today's news item that Supercomm is coming back, reborn out of NXTcomm shows that some brands might survive, and even come back with a bang.

I would hazard a guess that it is likely that we might see a Comdex again, unless a whole new generation of users are now in the market who have no clue what Comdex was! Bringing back a brand from the dead in that case could prove to be very expensive and not worth the time, money and effort - or as one might say, throwing good money after bad.

If that is the case, let us consider an alternative scenario. Would it be worthwhile to test the waters for a dormant trade show by first trying a virtual trade show under its brand name and check for any signs of life? Can virtual trade shows serve as the life-support mechanism for dying trade show brands? Why not!