Marketing mag has been to a few great trade shows this year, but many of them have not exactly been jam packed with paying attendees. Has the intense online networking and promotions scene, and the ease of finding great keynote presentation videos on the internet taken away the need to get there in the flesh to exhibitions?

It’s a big enough worry that the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) felt necessary to address it at their Leaders Forum, held last week on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The consensus ended up being there’s not so much to worry about.

Despite technology innovations and the explosion of social media, the industry leaders unanimously agreed that exhibitions will remain relevant and powerful, as the only marketing channel to offer a flexible face to face buying experience.

“However, exhibitions will still need to deliver an outstanding experience for their stakeholders – and utilising technology and personal portable devices to complement the offering will be a key success driver,” said Joyce DiMascio, general manager of the EEAA.

“For every show, every exhibition, every event it is crucial that organisers, suppliers and venues collaborate to create experiences that drive exhibitor participation and visitor attendance. The exhibition must be delivered as an experience that can’t be experienced elsewhere – especially online.”

Exhibitions also proved to be resilient during the recent global financial downturn. Whilst many marketing budgets were cut, research from CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) showed companies recognised that exhibitions remained a cost-effective way of reaching key decision-makers.

“Our challenge will be to continue to provide a compelling story to encourage exhibition participation by communicating the benefits of exhibitions as an integral part of any marketing plan – and a unique way of reaching a qualified target audience,” said DiMascio.

BY Brendan Lawley ON 11 August 2011