Convenience is the Future

Tony E. Kula (CEO) / November 2019 / digital events

I love the excitement of trade shows. The halls bustle with people. Vendors demonstrate new products with electronic music bumping in the background. Trade shows offer a chance to see the superstars in your field, dig deeper into your networks, and see what is on the horizon for your industry. They ignite our deep urge to learn and come together.

So if they tap into our desire to connect, why are trade shows slowly becoming extinct?

The quick answer: the internet.

The internet has unarguably shifted how we navigate the world. The long commutes, terrible traffic, and crowded shopping centres are being overtaken by the convenience of the computer. Retail shops are becoming quieter, delivery systems are becoming faster, and more people than ever work remotely. The digital migration is profoundly affecting our jobs and personal lives. 

More businesses are taking their companies and employees online, even for the events that are founded on firsthand connection. This transition can be seen most evidently in trade shows. These weekend retreats were once an opportunity for individuals to connect with others in their respective fields.

Although humans find incredible value in connecting one-on-one, our behaviors show a different priority. Do we expect information exchanges to be completely digital? Perhaps. But one thing’s for sure: Some of the world’s largest trade shows are diminishing, if not closing their doors for good.

End Of An Era?

In 2018, the attendance at IAA, Europe’s largest international auto show decreased by 45%dropping from 900,000 visitors to 400,000.

Many major luxury car brands didn’t even appear, like Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bentley, Bugatti and Rolls-Royce. Some of the largest brands shrunk their presence. The Mercedes-Benz showroom decreased by a third and didn’t show any cars at all. BMW scaled back by two-thirds.

Many don’t see a bright future for IAA. Where people used to run their fingers over sleek flagship cars, we now run our fingers over the smoothness of our phones. It is more convenient for brands to invest in digital activations. On a screen, consumers can experience the newest models being driven around, instead of looking at static cars idly parked in a showroom.

This isn’t just happening to car manufacturers, it’s happening across all industries.

2018 was the last year for CeBIT, the largest international computer expo in Hanover, Germany. Its attendance peaked in conjunction with the boom, reaching 830,000 attendees in 2001. However, within six years the audience shrunk to 200,000. Unsurprisingly, the most significant computer show in the world has decided to take everything online. 

The purpose of trade shows was connecting with others who were far away and hard to reach. Now with everyone being an email away, we are trending towards convenience. 

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize the importance of trade shows. These events are great for building community, seeing products up close and having intimate conversations with the makers. However, the global trend is moving towards convenience across many aspects of our lives. Let’s explore how.

Time-Saving Technology

We live in an age of shortcuts. Online experiences are rapidly becoming more convenient than ever.

This efficient digital landscape is shifting consumer expectations. People no longer want to commute to a trade show when they can get the same value from their homes without putting on makeup. We don’t want to go hunting around town for one item anymore when Amazon ships it to our doorstep within hours.

Brands aren’t just dabbling in the digital turnover: they are trailblazing it. And while connection is good, convenient connection is better. Companies that adapt to this new truth will be the winners.

The truth is, trade shows need to change too. Specifically, they need to specialize. The era of millions of professionals attending colossal conferences is over. Shows are becoming smaller and smaller.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Trade shows can use this underdog size to their advantage.

Smaller crowds mean more specialized networking. Suddenly, rather than meeting the entire automobile sector, I can go to events focused around one highly specific role, meeting my needs as a consumer. Plus, all the information I wanted is grouped in one place: online.

Trade shows are adapting to this digital migration is by offering virtual tickets. This gives them the opportunity to reach a wider audience who can’t physically be present too: all information is easily accessible online, anywhere in the world.

It’s worth noting that just because we are on the internet more doesn’t mean we are no longer connecting. I mentioned this in my previous article about the Evolution of Non-Physical Events: Although humans thrive on connection, the emergence of the internet is giving rise to events hosted online.

Our digital platform meetyoo is one such example of services that are mining the digital landscape. Digital events allow users to participate in a global community without sacrificing time or high costs of transportation. We recognize the convenience that meetyoo provides is an exciting opportunity to optimize everyone’s time, maximising connection from any device, anywhere in the world.

The internet isn’t squashing human connection: it is just relocating it. If companies can enable this trend, they’ll help accelerate us to a better, more convenient future.

Embracing The Future

The only constant we have is change. Humans have always adapted to new technologies to survive, and trade shows are no exception.

I have been in the digital communications industry for close to 30 years and have seen a major shift in technology each decade.

meetyoo doesn’t fight our desire for communication convenience: we lean into it. We aim to empower global communities that are separated by time zones, latitudes and longitudes. We are excited that our digital platform is embracing into the ever-changing world, and we are just getting started!

Our need for exchanging information and connecting will never diminish, but where we hold that space will. The future looks digital, and meetyoo will be there right alongside it, wherever it goes.