The trade show and conference industries have been slow to embrace the “Web 2.0” concept (although not the tools), but there are signs pointing to an awakening.
Stephen Nold of Tradeshow Week recently detailed his Web 2.0 epiphany in the pub’s Event Tech Blog. The post itself isn’t remarkable but what makes it stand out, at least when read from the PoV of someone who has been in this industry for a while, is just how little-understood the concept of the read/write web is, and how much it helps older industries reinvent themselves.
Trade shows and conferences are definitely ‘old industries,‘ considering their origins reach back thousands of years. If you think about it, the concept and execution of trade shows and conferences hasn’t changed much from then until now. People still gather at an appointed time, at an appointed place to showcase their products and/or ideas to a dedicated, captured and hopefully interested audience.
What’s been missing is a way for event participants to better prepare for shows, inform them of at-large goings-on and then keep them connected long after the schwag has run out, the booths have been packed up and the speakers have quieted. The read/write web, or “Web 2.0,” is the perfect mechanism. It adds another dimension to the live show, too: those who can’t make it to the physical event can follow along in near-real time, expanding the on-site crowd with an entire virtual audience.
The web’s instantaneous availability of information is in itself a tremendous value add to the conference industry. For instance, The addition of a chat box running on the conference site portal next to a live feed of a well-known speaker invites those following along to debate the speaker’s content with links. It also helps organizers gauge how well the speaker’s message is resonating so they can make a decision to either invite her back for more sessions, or try someone new.
The “live web’s” ability to incorporate other forms of user feedback via rating systems, live blogs, ad-hoc meetings created by attendees completely changes the game for conferences and trade show organizers, and for those of us who attend events. These new, interactive tools are a boon to the industry. They engage event participants in ways never before possible before the advent of the live web, and the possibilities are just endless, as we’re sure Mr. Nold will see in short order.
* Hat tip to Steven Nold for finding that first link, it’s very cool.