Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tradeshow Malcontents

Thou art the Mars of malcontents.

— William Shakespeare

UK exhibit builder Display Wizard recently asked 100 marketers whether tradeshows have a bright future.

Their answers might disturb you: 75 said yes; 25, no.

The 25 nay-sayers cited the rising digital tide as the reason—and their nagging disappointment with organizers, who are molasses-slow to adopt new technologies.

You might, as a hard-working organizer, respond, "Sure, we're not perfect, but attendees love our event!"

Maybe, maybe not.

Late last year, the event research firm
Explori found, worldwide, tradeshows earn abysmally low Net Promoter Scores from attendees (from a high of 20 in the US to a low of -6 in Asia).

To put that in context,
an "average" company's Net Promoter Score ranges from 31 to 50. (The worldwide Net Promoter Score exhibitors gave tradeshows was worse: -18.)

Explori's analysts noted that attendees' low scores can't be attributed to "so-called 'hygiene factors' such as venue layout, signage or catering, but highlight far more fundamental problems." T

radeshow exhibitors aren't displaying the innovations attendees crave.

Again, as a hard-working organizer, you might say: "So what? Many thriving industries have low Net Promoter Scores."

And you'd be right: duopolistic industries (where customers have little choice) all have negative scores. (Think cable TV, for example; Comcast and Time Warner Cable both have negative Net Promoter Scores—more unhappy than happy customers.)

But the tradeshow industry isn't a duopoly.

Attendees and exhibitors have choices. They can participate only in segment-leading shows. Or only in niche shows. Or they can meet elsewhere; at virtual events or—more likely—proprietary ones.

And, as a hard-working organizer, you might say: "I'm not worried. We're used to exhibitor churn. There'll always a few malcontents."

But you should worry.

Malcontents don't just represent the portion of customers who aren't satisfied.

They represent a potential mob that can become radicalized—that can pick up the weapons of social media and declare jihad on your plush bottom line.
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