Why wearable technology will transform the event industry

The future looks bright for wearable technology according to many studies, the latest of which is Cisco’s Visual Network Index and predicts an increase to 58 million devices in 2015 and even 177 million by 2018.  That looks pretty impressive and it actually is considering that such a market would be worth approximately 30 billion US dollars.  Yet, in comparison to (say) the global smartphone market, it’s peanuts.  At  an estimated bying rate of 2,3 billion devices a year, the smartphone market accounts for roughly 20 devices per smart wearable device.

While all these statistics and contradictory trend reports, may give the impression that wearables are not (yet) a reality, I would argue that these numbers only mean tough business for those entering in this market.  Meaning that margins will be low from the start, with the exception of some more ‘premium’ products from vendors like Apple, and most importantly set for a race down the bottom.  On top, these wearables work together with a smartphone and are pretty useless without one.  This means that the wearables themselves don’t account for much network traffic, reducing to zero the incentive for telco’s to develop device subsidies plans, like they did so keenly for smartphones.  But that’s their problem not yours as an event organizer.

So, wearable devices are not going to impact the event industry for a lack of adoption?  On the contrary, they will and already have if you think about it.

Braceletsrfid-bracelet

Every event attendee has at some stage worn a RFID or NFC bracelet in the past years when going to an event.  For access control, or for paying drinks or food, or for sharing content on social media.  Especially the concerts and festivals industry has adpoted bracelets a couple of years ago.  Identifying the potential advantages of selling more, worrying less about cash distribution and theft, checking entrances better, managing crowds in a more secure manner.

But where wearing a bracelet on a concert is pretty standard, you won’t see it on a conference or trade show.  And that’s because the audience won’t accept that.  No need to discuss reasons or measures to circumvent that, the fact that in the future your smart wearable device will be able to take over those functions easily solves this puzzle.  Smart watches will become the RFID-NFC bracelet in the next months and years.

Google Glass

Google’s entry in the market of wearables is and has been since the start one of the most eye-catching ones (I liked the pun).  Not always positively because it’s so visible and packed with cool features, but also because it’s a little bit scary, or at least swiftly categorized as a danger to privacy by so-called experts.  Only a couple of months after Glass’ announcement it  is already declared dead, sometimes by people that also tried to bury Apple’s iPad and iPhone or the Android operating system immediately after their introduction.

While I understand the concerns and honestly value the importance and need of privacy, I think Google Glass can be a game changer for events, congresses, trade shows and basically any location where lot’s of people meet each other and engage with new and exciting content.  Google Glass may not become the hyped, ubiquitous tool that Google wants it to become for their business, but it sure has a lot of potential to offer as a business and marketing tool.googleglass

Think about how much simpler it would be to keep your smartphone in your pocket while stroling down the isles of a trade show, not forced to look at your screen all the time, missing out on interesting products and people.  Think about not having to grab for your phone to check messages and reminders for your next appointment on the show or speakers session to attend.  Could that be the reason why today mobile event apps or not all that much used by attendees ?  I honestly think so.

Virtual reality

riftNo, I really can’t imagine myself walking around with an Occulus Rift on my head, but imagine being able to admire, on a booth, in 3D, the latest model of some multi-million dollar machine that was just too expensive to fysically move to the event venue.  Can you smell the (social) media coverage that would generate for the event and the exhibitor ? I can.

Networking

The chances of meeting tens of interesting people, existing contacts or new partners, on an event are high, certainly higher than on any other average day.  How convenient would it be to attendees to use their smart watch or glasses to connect, to exchange personal information, to get a reminder of a planned meeting and at the same time get some background information on the person your meeting with.  Get his interests, hobbies, carreer at his current company, experience,…

The mobile event app is created to increase convenience and make a better customer experience during an attendee’s stay at an event.  But it virtually requires the poor man or woman to glue a smartphone on your face, which is not very convenient when walking.  Wearable technology will just reveal the true added value of event apps and event technology and as a side efffect increase the number of created interactions.  Which, in my book, is exactly what conferences or trade shows are all about : creating interactions and leads.

More advantages or use cases of wearable technology for events ?  Or recent experiences with events using wearables, just post a comment.

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Why you want to invest now in event technology ?

The approaching dedicated show Event Tech Live 2014 next week, but also the overall desire and anticipation to use and integrate technology in almost every aspect of our daily lives, causes a spike in interest and searches for event technology.  And rightfully so, I may add.  Today many, if not virtually every big and smaller trade show or conference boasts a mobile app, online registration, an online blog and social media interaction.  But every often I see isolated efforts not demonstrating a valid online strategy nor tight integration of these supporting tools.  Many organizers will invest in technology to keep up with the competition or just because – they feel or think – the audience expects that.  But you shouldn’t invest because it’s a buzz.  Only if you’re convinced technology can have a positive impact on your event.  I’m pretty sure it will. Why ?

1. Strategy first

While the practice of experimenting with technology isn’t bad – as I emphasize later in this article – you musn’t confuse an experiment with a best practice or final setup.  The goal must always be structural, well-defined and with tangible results and positive outcome in mind.  So you want to have a clear strategy including a list of goals and the appropriate tactics – read technology – to achieve that goal.  Look at all available event tech on the market, evaluate if and how it can help you achieve your strategy and goals.  And foremost look at how each individual technology effort can be enhanced by adding more or integrating with other pieces of technology.  Keep an eye on efficiency, costs and measure the results.

Of course Rome wasn’t build in a day and you can start small and isolated but don’t settle for that.

TIP : also look at technnology that’s not – or not yet – typically adapted to the event industry’s needs but holds promise to achieve your goals.  Typically retail technology (in Dutch) can be usefull in event environments.

2. Data is the ultimate proof360-customer-view

The real bonus of using event technology is the data it provides.  It has the potential to stop you from having to guess.  About what your audience wants, about how exhibitors performed, about the effect of your event, about activity levels, about the return of your efforts.  Actually about virtually everything you always wanted to track and then use to improve your event and demonstrate the value it holds.

3. Increase productivity

Good event technology boosts the productivity of your audience.  Whether it’s rapidly finding your way to the next exhibitor you wanted to pay a visit, or sifting through the lectures at a conference looking for topics of your interest, or looking for interesting other visitors to meet with.

But it also helps you to become more productive and improve your event’s value.  Knowing exactly how many people attented a demo and how many questions were asked and answered after a lecture, helps you identify valuable topics and speakers for your next edition.  Good social media analytics will point you to the community thought leaders, helping you Tweet: Great social media analytics will point you to the community thought leaders, helping you increase your reach. #eventtech #adekspoincrease your reach and maybe attracting the guru for a workshop at your next event.

Good event technology increases the likelihood of succesful interaction between people, networking and connecting the right business opportunities.  Without technology, organizing an event is like fishing with a line and hook and ultimate patience.  Great as an outdoor leisure but not for providing sustainable living.  As an organizer you went through an enormous pile of work and effort to realize the event and then you leave it up to pure serendepity for the right people to meet each other.  With just a little technological help you can do so much better and more rewarding.

4. Increase engagement

A mobile app, a Tweetwall, a Pinterest photo contest, a website, a voting system, … All of that will support your efforts to engage with your customers in a dialogue.  But the dialogue mustn’t start at the entrance and stop at the exit of the event’s venue.  The conversation has to be continuous.  By all means the intensity must be raised during the event by sharing valuable information with your audience.  But before and after the show you also have interesting things to share, or at least you must have.  Interest spans are decreasing which means you have a harder time if you have to reintroduce yourself and fight for attention from scratch, every time a couple of months before the event’s opening date.

This requires proven knowledge of your audiences – fact based, not hunches – stored in integrated software solutions, giving you a 360° overview of every single participant in your events.

5. Demand

I know I said in the beginning of this article that introducing event tech because people want it, is not a good reason to start with.  But don’t underestimate the power of your audience.  “Power to the people” is an increasing reality, and not only in the virtual world.  This means not having a highly appreciated piece of technology on your event can be more harmful than having it in a way that’s not optimal.  You must however make sure the experience is valuable from the beginning and be clear about the ultimate goal.  Ask for features users want to see in the future and communicate well about your plans for the future with this technology tool.

6. Experiment

Try new stuff !  Don’t be afraid of technology.  People attending your events aren’t.  More and more events will be attended by people between 25 and 40 years old.  Those are manifest 24/7 users of technology.  Try something new, evaluate well and then drop it or use it differently, more wisely to achieve your overall strategy.  Or to provide objective answers to the questions that you want to see answered.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Your specialty is organizing an event and managing a community, not knowing exactly how technology can help with those tasks.  So ask for professional help when developing a strategy or searching for effective technology.

It’s all connected. Just like any event’s goal is to connect more people and ideas together, the goal for your arsenal of technological features should be to connect them and gain insights and information helping you to become a better organizer who knows what people want to get out of your events.

3 observations on the trade show industry

After a little over half a year of activity at adekSpo and some completed and running consulting projects – small and bigger, at least in my eyes – I found it time to make a round up of my experiences so far.  Of course they’re my observations, so I would love to hear some more.  And it’s just the 3 most remarkable to me, I bet there’s a dozen more to write about.

The trendsetters

Increasingly you can find amongst organizers, which in my opinion, have been for so many years, very traditional about their work methods, procedures and approaches, people that feel the need for a new breeze.  Often these people are outsiders, starting a new career in the event or trade show industry.  Events and trade shows still have a tremendous gravitational force on job seekers, mostly because it’s a work intensive industry, strangely and astonishinly having a low automation level.  That means higher employment security than average, which in today’s economic and employment situation, is a safe harbour worth steering to.  These new recruits are typically vertical specialists, and less horizontal generalists – which are so desired in this line of work – bringing along from previous jobs, experience and interests in relatively new domains for the trade show industry.  This makes that more organizers, especially smaller companies, are more excited about new and bold ways of organizing, promoting and staging their events.  These new and bold things still include quite traditional aspects of the event organizing game, like registration and promotion and booth sales and finding speakers, etc…  But they strategically and tacticially use new technology to handle that like : NFC, social media advertising, social CRM, conversational marketing, big data, twitter walls, mobile apps, voting systems, iBeacons,…

For one of these brave, small organizers, I did an interesting prototype using NFC tags and LinkedIn profile exchange as a fast way to register people entering a free seminar.  But it wasn’t just about the prototype, which by it’s name might suggest a pure technological nature of the project.  No, it was much more about the open, eager and innovative attitude towards registration and collecting personal information about attendees.  Even for free events, most organizers stick to, from a sense of tradition, lengthy fill-out forms including the most common fields like company, name, sex, address, phone, email,…  These hard facts data give a – sometimes false – sense of security : “I have the data and can use it again for next time.”.  But data changes over time, increasingly rapid and people sometimes lie or don’t fill out the complete form.  There’s less chance of that happening on their LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter profile, especially in a B2B context.  On the contrary, the chance of that data still being accurate one or two years later, even after having changed company, is so much higher when you have your attendees’ LinkedIn data, than when you collected and processed that data yourself.  Exactly creating this awareness was the turning point for this organizer to start this project and analyse the technical possibilities and future feasability of such an approach.

The sceptic

Oh, I can hear you, dear readers, thinking : “What about compatibility, the Apple users and people that don’t have a smartphone ?”.  Because being sceptic and downright negative about innovation, is something we’ve all become (almost) used to in this industry.  But I’ll reply to you as I did to some people at this organizer who eventually did the prototype.  How many people still don’t use a smartphone ?  Really ? According to Nielsen studies the number of smartphone users worldwide is inching towards 45%, in 2013 in Europe and the US 69% of recent mobile phone acquirers bought a smartphone – even 80% for those aged below 35.  In B2B environments the use of a smartphone is close to obiquitous.  If you provide a solution for Android and iOS you cover about 93% of all devices used, according to another Nielsen survey in 2013. And Apple fans are known to be early adopters of any new kind of technology becoming available to them, so how long can it still take for them to get on board as well.  So that should provide an answer to all those “concerns”.

Even if it’s not entirely realistic to use something new right now, at least by investigating it thoroughly you’ll be ready when the time comes.  Which today sometimes happens faster than you anticipated.  And I firmly believe that being ready and using or testing a proven technology to the benefit of your attendee’s experience, will give your event the edge it will need.

What’s striking, but not surprising if you think about it, is that many of the sceptics are really big event companies.  Although they have the financial and human resources to be at the forefront, they’d rather wait and see.  I guess because they can – having these financial buffers and still being large trade shows (inter)nationally – and because there’s too many people defending their traditions.

The dawning

I’m positive that in the next months and years there will be growing numbers of trade show organizers, small and big, opening up to the idea of doing things in a new way, embracing technology and data.  I’m not saying we’re there yet.  But I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The traditional reflex of sticking to “what’s known and has worked for so long”, and the firm belief – or is it frantic hope – that the need for human face-to-face contact will perpetually require trade shows being organized, is fading and being replaced by the recognition that “different” and “modern” can mean “better” and “more profitable”. I experience, in the last weeks, an increased interest in better data management, higher efficiency in work processes, greater transparency, better analytics, new business models and real customer focus.  Not yet as a big tidal wave of interest going through the industry, but more like ripples in a bath tub.  But it has to start somehow.

I truly hope this trend continues, for I really believe in the strength of trade shows and events and not just because it provides me work opportunities as a consultant.

5 megatrends voor de event-industrie

Het GCB, German Convention Bureau, publiceerde eind vorig jaar de resultaten van het onderzoek “Meetings and Conventions 2030: A Study of Megatrends Shaping our Industry”.  (redelijk lange titel, in het Duits waarschijnlijk zelfs in 1 of 2 woorden)

Ik ben geen trendwatcher en verwacht dat het voorspellen ervan steeds moeilijker zal worden gezien de stijgende snelheid waarmee alles op korte termijn constant veranderd en in beweging is.  Maar deze wil ik toch meegeven.

De studie somt de 5 meest invloedrijke trends op die de meeting industrie zullen hervormen in de komende jaren : “technologie in het dagdagelijks leven en op het werk”, “globalisering en internationalisering”, “mobiliteit”, “demografische veranderingen” en “maatschappelijk verantwoorde ontwikkeling”.  De volgorde is gebaseerd op de antwoorden van event professionals.  Ook volgens mij de belangrijkste uitdagingen waar we voor staan, niet alleen in de events industrie trouwens.

Technologie

Natuurlijk onderstreep ik de gedachte dat de technologische trend met stip op nummer 1 staat.  Wat had je gedacht ? Ik heb er een groot deel van de bestaansreden van m’n bedrijf op gestoeld.  Ik ben een gepassioneerd “believer” in hoe technologie gebruikt kan worden om dagdagelijkse problemen op te lossen en het leven en de job van iedereen gemakkelijker en productiever te maken.  De studie toont aan dat 40% van de event professionals het met me eens zijn.  De trend lijkt onverzettelijk om via mobiele apps, mobiele websites, social media hubs tijdens het offline event, … de beleving van bezoekers drastisch te verbeteren en naar een niveau te brengen dat jonge gebruikers als normaal beschouwen.  Door gebruik te maken van real time analyses, moet technologie helpen om die beleving maximaal te personaliseren.  Denk daarbij aan gepersonaliseerde routes doorheen het event op basis van interesses van de bezoeker, suggesties voor ‘niet-te-missen’ informatie-sessies of workshops, netwerk-events met favoriete gesprekspartners en interactieve mobiele toepassingen tijdens conferenties.  Deze trends boezemt echter veel event planners ook schrik in, zo heb ik ervaren in menig gesprek.  Angst om de complexiteit, het verlies van controle en de extra tijd om die technologie te implementeren en beheren.  Veel van die angst is echter ongegrond als je je goed laat omringen met professionele tools en solution providers.

Globalisering en mobiliteit

De twee volgende trends – globalisering en mobiliteit – zijn niet alleen sterk met elkaar verbonden, maar strijden wat mij betreft alleszins om de tweede plek.  Eigenlijk zouden we ze exequo op twee moeten zetten.

Dankzij steeds goedkopere vliegtuigtickets neemt het aantal internationale bezoekers aan belangrijke, overtuigende events steeds meer toe.  Al blijft het bezoeken van een buitenlands event altijd wel een significante investering in tijd en resources.  Daar wordt, zeker in economische crisis, of in de (lange) naschok daarvan, zuinig mee omgesprongen, en dus worden die bezoeken zeer strikt uitgekozen op basis van een aantal duidelijke criteria.  Als je hiermee rekening houdt en oog hebt voor cultuur- en taal-gevoeligheden zorg je ervoor dat je bezoekers zich engageren en effeciënt contacten kunnen leggen.

In de dagen van duur internationaal transport en dichtslibbende routes naar hoofdsteden, startte de trend naar regionalisering.  Kleinere maar toegankelijke events.  Ondertussen is het verkeersinfarct enkel intenser geworden en treft het ook economisch belangrijke provinciesteden of regio’s.  Een ritje Antwerpen-Gent of Mechelen-Rotterdam met de auto, om een regionaal event bij te wonen, is in termen van productivteitsverlies erger geworden dan een vlucht of treinrit Brussel-Parijs om een internationaal event bij te wonen.  Een venue zal in de toekomst dus écht en op elk moment goed toegankelijk moeten zijn met openbaar vervoer, vliegtuig, auto, taxi of fiets.  Denk bij je event en de keuze van de venue, ook even aan de ontsluiting richting andere activiteiten, voor of na je event, of in functie van het “social program”.

Ik ben er bovendien van overtuigd dat zowel de internationalisering als het oprukkende mobiliteitsprobleem gedeeltelijk beantwoord kunnen worden met technologie, zoals webinars en andere online events.

De onderbouw van het mobiliteitsvraagstuk wordt gevormd door de uitdagingen van demografische verandering en diversiteit.  De demografische shift dicteert dat de gemiddelde bezoeker niet langer een oudere man in een maatpak zal zijn.  Het zullen steeds jongere mensen zijn en vrouwen.  Dit impliceert nieuwe eisen aan je event zoals bijvoorbeeld alternatief vervoer en faciliteiten daarvoor, kinderopvang en flexibele openingsuren.  Bovendien ervaren we steeds toenemende culturele diversificatie tijdens events, een trend waar we rekening mee moeten houden.  Niemand zou het in z’n hoofd halen om een vakbeurs te organiseren op Kerstdag.  Maar steeds meer zal je als event planner ook rekening moeten houden met andere religieuze feestdagen en zal je ook op andere domeinen aanpassingen moeten maken, bijvoorbeeld in je cateringaanbod.

Tot slot, maar niet het minst belangrijk, moeten we als industrie onze verantwoordelijkheid opnemen ten aanzien van duurzaamheid en het milieu.  Internet-technologie zoals video conferencing is een toegevoegde waarde voor events en heeft gelijktijdig een positieve milieu-impact.  Speciale software helpt om de duurzaamheid van een event te analyseren en bij te sturen – informatie die steeds meer verwacht en gewaardeerd wordt bij je bezoekers. Een gebrekkig beleid en onbestaande maatregelen om mileu-factoren bij te sturen, of het nu gaat om de verlaging van je CO² voetafdruk, beter recycleren, ecologische standconstructies, zuinigere verlichting of focus op diervriendelijke en organische voeding, zullen je deelnemers niet imponeren, laat staan aanmoedigen om een trouwe bezoeker te worden.  Dit is duidelijk een verantwoordelijkheid van organisatoren, leveranciers en de event venues.

Dit onderzoek belicht een aantal pertinente uitdagingen van vandaag en op middellange termijn.  Ik denk dat de deugdelijkheid van de resultaten in de komende jaren bevestigd zal worden.  Zoals bij elke trend moet je nu al nadenken over de gevolgen voor jou event, of de trend gaat je in rotvaart voorbij en je mist de trein.

Voor het volledige onderzoek kan je hier terecht.

Virtual shows : it’s coming

I remember early 2000 or maybe 2001, time flies you know, when I got a first glimpse of the virtual show.  A demo, not even the real thing, and after long consideration and internal discussion with my colleagues, we decided it just didn’t present any additional value, let alone it could be an alternative to our real-life professional trade shows.  Furthermore it took a lot of technology setup.  It were the days when no or only few computers in your office had a microphone or speakers and the days when IT administrators hammered your computer’s connections with the outside world as shut as possible.  Rightfully so back then with managers thinking the world was constantly spying on their national secrets, security appliances being sluggish and users blissfully unaware of the risks involved in inserting foreign disks or USB-sticks.  Meanwhile managers have accepted the risks of online storage and SaaS and the web browser has become one of the most important corporate software items.

In over a decade of time, life changes and so does technology and the acceptance thereof.

And so last week I attended to an actual virtual show, the real thing – it didn’t even have a simultaneous real-life counterpart.  Just some place on a web server, you can reach with a computer, tablet or smartphone.  No need to drive over or fly in, take a taxi or find a parking place, walk a mile to reach the main entrance, and again a mile to reach the doors to the actual show.  No just login and start meeting people, start learning about new solutions and possibilities from exhibitors or conference speakers.

As with a brick-and-mortar show a virtual one is considered successful when it allows visitors and exhibitors to connect, learn from each other and do business, exchange ideas, gain new insights and network.

And that’s when you notice that we’re not there yet with virtual shows to replace real-life shows.  The interaction isn’t as natural as in real life, in fact you can literally ignore all attempts at interaction without being impolite or brutal.  It still takes some plugin installation to experience all of the show’s features, which can be a barrier for some and one you wouldn’t experience in real life.

BUT let me tell you all, a virtual show has some at least these 8 great advantages :

1) networking opportunities

By default a virtual show opens up a world of potential people you want to talk to, simply because it will allow you to see who’s attending and who’s present together with you.  You can filter on company, interest or any other criteria the organizer has set in the registration form – and just strike a conversation with one or many people.  On top it allows you to schedule meetings or leave a message in the person’s inbox.  On the spot or planned well in advance.

2) presentations

Following a webinar is as simple as taking a seat in a conference or seminar room and listen to the speaker.  Yet in a virtual seminar, you’re in your own comfortable office chair and have access to your computer, laptop or mobile device to take digital notes, record the speech and if it’s all too boring to you, leave the room without being noticed or disturbing the other listeners.

3) moderated

The presentations on a virtual show are always moderated which assures a well-kept timing and easier interaction.  A good moderator has some questions of his/her own at the end of every session and can keep a debate going.  A fine moderator also makes a powerful introduction and a brief resume before and after each presenter.  A good moderator last but not least points at the appreciated evaluation of each session, very important to understand the needs of your audience.

4) takeaways

Exhibitors, speakers and sponsors used to participating in virtual shows provide ample takeaways.  Whether it be white papers or case studies or presentation handouts or basic information pdf’s, everything is ready for download.  The content is there for you, the visitor, and not promoted in some way or pushed at you in a plastic bag while you walk by.  You’re in control, check if the content has meaning to you, and then save it to your toolkit or inbox.

5) digital

Every transaction you make in the digital world of a virtual show is purely digital and therefor traceable.  Might sound a little bit scary but it’s actually not.  You can go back the next day and still remember who you spoke to and on what subject, you can see which sessions you followed and review the slides.  Check your downloaded documents.  And the really great thing is, you can easily share it with your colleagues and other stakeholders.

6) social media

Social media integration in a virtual show comes very natural.  It’s like almost normal that the link with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Tumblr, and others is omni-present.  Allowing for twitter chats, Q&A over Twitter, follow an exhibitor’s Facebook-page,…

7) marketing platform

All interaction being logged, means a world of opportunities for the exhibitors to follow-up immediately, after a few days or at the visitor’s request with the right feedback and information.  It can still go wrong but the chances are slimmer and as everyone knows, lousy follow-up means frustration.  At least in a virtual show it can’t go wrong anymore because you plain lost, in all the fuss of a show dismantling, the red plastic map you used at your booth to collect all business cards your sales reps collected during the show.  Believe me, that happens!  I can’t remember the number of times I got, as the last operations man on site, a call from a totally desperate exhibitor the first morning after the show.

8) transparancy

A virtual show offers complete transparency for a visitor and exhibitor on who’s been on a booth and what was talked about.  What interests did the visitor show, which speakers did he like,…  Imagine how that can help you, as an organizer to analyze the success of your show, build new revenue streams on that, adapt your billing on the facts, help you find the trigger points that attract visitors.  In short it will allow you to increase the likelihood of conversion.  In the end the only reason your show exists.

The virtual show market is a clearly growing one, estimated to get to 18,6 Billion USD by end 2015.

Not only do I think we will see a further growth in 100% virtual shows, we will at the same time experience a rapid virtualization of offline trade shows today and in the future.  Just think about the custom show apps for visitors, indoor location tracking, QR codes to retrieve exhibit information and in the near future what Google Glass could bring to a show and its visitors.

What follows in the next few lines is something many of my esteemed former colleagues will not be amused with, to use an understatement.  It will more likely tempt them to react fiercely, defensive and impulsively negative.  Good for the interactivity score of this blog, but think a little longer before calling me bad names.  Think about the 8 advantages I stated above and how you relate to them as a visitor of your own show.  Clearly it’s not a black and white choice but an option to consider and investigate.  Let your community decide, they know what they want.

My single conclusion : virtual is coming.  Not yet as a full replacement but definitely as an add-on to real-life shows or as an extra event in your organizational calendar, for those in your audience who can’t attend the physical show because of distance or lack of time.  Or as smaller international networking opportunities, to keep in touch with your audience or community.

Again looking forward with an open mind to all your remarks, even if you fully agree.  Share and like at will.