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Smaller Trade Shows... Are They Worth It?

Let me start of by saying that I love the idea of localized trade shows.  I am a huge fan of them. All of the exhibitors are on a level playing field meaning that they have about the same space as each other to show off their latest products and services.  Unlike larger trade shows where you can easily be sucked into a massive booth seeing everything that the manufacturer has to offer.  Sometimes that is fun, but when you have a limited time frame, you begin to miss out on other things.

A smaller local event also offers the ability to actually carry on a conversation with manufacturers without the rush of 10,000 other attendees trying to learn more.  It is more intimate, and highly conducive to socialization in a relaxed environment. Then there is the added bonus of classes and talks by industry professionals. How can you go wrong with a smaller event.

Easy, timing and location.  This week brought PLASA Focus in Orlando.  Ever since the Orlando event was announced, I have been scratching my brain. Why on earth would they hold a smaller trade show in Orlando less than a month before a larger trade show comes to town, (InfoComm)? Granted, PLASA Focus is free to attendees and offers another chance for those in the area to get off work for "professional development". But honestly, does Orlando really need two events within a month???  I am really confused at PLASA choice of locations as of late.  Next up is Austin, (AGAIN) in September.

I am sure these cities have a huge amount of production work and industry people that live in those areas.  How about a little diversity here? Maybe something a bit north like say Chicago in the summer or Seattle in the Spring.  Change it up, stop doing the same cities or cities that have trade shows already coming there.

LiveDesign offers local trade shows/events as well with their Master Class series.  Another bunch of great events. But always in the same areas each year. Change it up!  Look at DC, we have a HUGE market for live entertainment. Theatres, clubs, night life, arenas... you name it, we have a piece of the pie in our market.

There are of course local events put on by regional distributors and reps. Though they aren't as widely heard about as the two mentioned before. I love them all and wish I could get to all of them. It just isn't practical. Time is money, and time not spent well leads to running close to the red. As I am sure most of us are in the same boat, wanting to get to these events, it just doesn't work sometimes.

What do you think?  Are local events worth while?  That is if one comes to your area?  Or do you prefer the larger trade shows were you see more? Leave a comment, I would love to hear what you think. I can't be the ONLY one.

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Comment by Keith Kankovsky on May 20, 2013 at 11:08am

The PLASA Focus event held last week in Orlando was very worthwhile. We were able to spend time with friends and colleagues within the market as well as speak with specifiers and consultants- all in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Complimentary Starbucks coffee, lemonade and iced tea avaible during load-in and show hours as well- nice touch PLASA!

A different format and style of show? Yes. Worth every dime? Yep.


Comment by Bob Thebuilder on May 20, 2013 at 10:04am

More and more bigger is not better. With HUGE show in the few large city venues you need to content with travel, lack of rooms, size of teh event etc. Smaller is better. 

Comment by Elisa Goad on May 17, 2013 at 3:25pm
I attended Plasa and have to say that I get intimidated by the huge trade festivals. One thing to note was the attendance was very low, and I found that the reps were very interested in talking to me out of sheer boredom. I could ask stupid questions with only the rep hearing and answering. Peer pressure is the highest at these trade shows and the one on one was invaluable. I also didn't feel like a customer because I will never be in the buying chair, and I was treated as a survey person that the reps asked me if I liked their product. Also I work 7 days a week and may not be able to take full advantage of InfoComm, so I take what I can get.

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