Tradeshows remain more important than ever in the internet age, according to a new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR). The study, "The Future of Tradeshows: Evolving Trends, Preferences, and Priorities," by HyunJeong "Spring" Han and Rohit Verma, finds that people attend tradeshows for the classic reasons of making business contacts and gaining new knowledge. But technology and sustainability have added new elements to the tradeshow equation.
The study, which is available at no charge from the CHR, outlines the reasons given by 2,527 exhibitors and attendees for their tradeshow participation and also examines some of the ways that technology and sustainability have augmented tradeshows.
"We found that exhibitors and attendees have quite different reasons for participating in a tradeshow," said Han, who is on the faculty of the National Research University's Higher School of Economics, in Moscow. "Exhibitors are focused on selling or demonstrating their products and meeting qualified buyers. On the other hand, attendees are seeking educational opportunities. Since product demonstrations are a part of that education process, the tradeshow can be an effective way to meet both sets of goals."
"Technology is increasingly used to improve the efficiency of that meeting and education process," added Verma, who is a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "For example, many events have an app that allows participants to schedule meetings with each other or to connect people with common interests. And, of course, most tradeshows have wi-fi, video displays, an internet café, and mobile apps. In general, the participants appreciate the availability of technology that helps them make the most of the tradeshow."
Event organizers are aware of the push for sustainability in the hospitality industry, and many tradeshows have an on-site recycling program, virtual collateral to cut down the amount of paper flyers, and reusable and environmentally friendly display materials. In addition, many operate in LEED-certified facilities. Han pointed out: "While sustainability options at tradeshows does not increase the likelihood of attendance, it significantly improves customer satisfaction for those who do attend the event."
The study was supported by the ASAE Foundation, which facilitated data collection through 28 partner organizations that in turn supported the study by distributing the survey to their members.
About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.
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