Stone World

Celebrating Sept. 12; The Future of Trade Shows

September 12, 2008
What do September 11, travel and construction trade shows have in common?


September 11 was a somber day for me. From the moment I turned on my car radio in the morning until I went to sleep, words and images kept flooding my mind.

All day long my thoughts returned to the events of September 11, 2001. I rarely look out my office window, but a flag flying at half-mast kept stealing my attention. I haven’t thought this much about 9-11 since the one-year anniversary.

So today, September 12, I am celebrating the freedom and liberties I enjoy as a citizen of the U.S. but often take for granted. Many have sacrificed their all so I can enjoy these privileges. The saying “freedom isn’t free” resonates in my heart.

A remnant of September 11, 2001, is the financial health of airlines. Most airlines have struggled mightily since 2001. High jet fuel prices are causing some to close down and others to merge. All are increasing fares and cutting flights, two trends projected to continue.

As I returned from the Remodeling Show held in Baltimore, I thought about how airline and energy woes are putting a big hurt on construction trade show attendance. The first-day attendance for the Remodeling Show exposition--a really well-run event--was very light. Most attendees who came to our booth had driven in from Virginia or Maryland.  Fortunately, second-day attendance picked up nicely as remodeling pros completed their training sessions and hit the show floor.

In my case, I weighed the cost of travel and elected to make the Remodeling Show a two-day, one-night trip, as did one of my co-workers. The bad news was that flight options were less than ideal. I would have liked to have more hours in Baltimore, but other flights were either overpriced or no longer available.

Exhibitors appeared to have taken similar steps. I saw few booths overflowing with workers. Others exhibitors staffed their booths with local reps.

So I wonder, with travel costs skyrocketing, what is the future of national construction trade shows? Will Webcasts/Webinars, virtual trade shows and online meetings replace traditional “in-person” events?

I work for a company that produces a few trade shows. Next year we’re even launching a new one in the disaster reconstruction field. Are we crazy?

What about you? Have you attended more, or fewer, construction trade shows this year?

What about 2009?

Post a response to this blog or email me at fauscht@bnpmedia.com with your thoughts. Inquiring minds want to know.