I’ve attended a few dozen tradeshows in my time, and they’re typically great experiences, full of learning and fun. But having attended three in a row recently, I’m had my nose rubbed in some…inconveniences.

As an optimist, I’m always on the lookout for opportunity. Though this post is a little tongue-in-cheek, I’ve uncovered three great ideas for improving the tradeshow experience.

Idea #1: Make Your App…an App

If you’re like me, you have a mobile app for everything – except tradeshows. But recently, I’ve seen a few tradeshows roll out an app that failed to live up to the full potential of a mobile experience. In all three cases, the app was little more than a list of sessions with limited search and filtering. But a full-fledged tradeshow app could do so much more.

I’m really just asking for two capabilities here:

  1. If your app has a list of sessions, I need a button that transfers all the info to my Google calendar, seamlessly. Cut and paste just doesn’t cut it.
  1. If your app has a map, your app needs to wayfind. I want to be able to tap on a session and have a dynamic path laid out, by the app, in real time. My good friends at Phunware do a brilliant job with wayfinding — is it too much to ask?

Of course, I’ll remind tradeshow planners everywhere to use their app as a promotional tool for partners and vendors. Companies in your Expo can promote their giveaways, booth talks, or sessions – potentially boosting interest and attendance.

Idea #2: Use closed-captioning — then transcribe and transform.

Here’s the middle aged content marketer coming out. Too many sessions in the mosh pit left me with a little permanent hearing loss. Could organizations provide closed captioning for sessions, or at least keynotes?

I don’t have much trouble hearing what’s going on, unless I’m in a crowd, but once in a while, I miss out — and I’m not the only one. At least a few of your attendees have to have more serious hearing loss — so help them out, please.

And there’s a hidden upside to closed captioning. If you’re offering closed captioning, transcribing sessions becomes easy — and allows your marketing teams to leverage the transcriptions for content. Sure, I know, you video sessions and then publish the videos to your website. But I can read six transcribed sessions, transformed into solution briefs or case studies, in the time it takes me to watch a video.

As a content marketing consultant, I’m a strong advocate of leveraging content — and turning your tradeshow sessions into something else is the way to do it. Plus, it helps us old guys keep up with all the change driven by you whippersnappers. 😎

Idea #3: A Transformative New Technology

Folks, we’re living in the land of technology disruption, but at every tradeshow over the past two years, I’ve been confronted with a 14th century technology that made me crazy. It’s time to blow up old paradigms, it’s time to face the future, it’s time for disruptive, on-demand innovation.

At each show, around 10.30am, I wandered around a convention center, in a desperate, panting, miserable search for the holy of holies, the joy of life…the third cup of coffee. After all, the night before I had been
attending the obligatory concert or drinking myself into a corner at a vendor sponsored party. I needed my cup o’ joe.

And at all three shows, I got to the sponsored coffee table just in time to watch the guy ahead of me get the last cup of caffeinated goodness. I had to settle for…horror of horrors…decaf.

It’s time for BaaS, Beverage-as-a-Service.

Here’s a revenue generating idea for event planners everywhere. Charge $10/day for a wristband that enables guaranteed beverage access, 24×7, with more than five nines of availability. I want on-demand, scalable, instant access caffeine. It’s time for coffee access to spring into the 21st century. Don’t leave me hanging – all I need is a latte. Come on, you’re killing me!

(I write this as I sip my second cup of the day).

Well, that’s all I have for today. But do any of you have other bright ideas for improving the tradeshow experience? If so, get in touch — I’d be glad to talk with you!


Brian E Whitaker is a content marketing consultant, founder of Zettabyte Content, LLC, and is addicted to his phone, a good cortado, and outstanding marketing content.  Learn more at www.zbcontent.com.