Very few business professionals get excited for conventions and trade shows, whether their company is operating a station or their just attending. Within a community of business people, this has become a universal truth, but one that few people really understand the reasons behind.
From spending a ton of time in one place for small gains, to attempting to sell your product to other attendees with no interest in buying, professional conferences have become a chore. Here are the 6 top reasons why:
1. Trade Shows Aren't Convenient
If everything else about a convention were perfect, it would be a small ask to expect a person to leave their family, their home and their comfortable life for several days to attend a trade show, but many trade shows aren't worth it.
Asking an employee to spend multiple days away from home at an event where very little is there to be gained from it is unreasonable, and produces a very low return on your travel and marketing investment.
2. Too Much Information
It's a simple fact that no matter how interesting the content in question is, a person can only absorb and retain a finite amount of information. Conferences tend to bombard attendees and hosts alike with tons of information without giving them the tools to take it all home with them. This means that attendees will only retain small morsels of information, mostly based on their own discretion and a lot of luck.
Conference schedules typically don't help with this. Many conference schedules only offer a sampling of what's available at a given event, meaning that attendees who follow the schedule to the letter will end up missing out on networking and unofficial content that's sometimes more useful than what's on the schedule.
3. A Difficult Selling Atmosphere
If your company is in a B2B vertical, you're expected to sell to the people you meet at trade shows, first and foremost. As any convention-goer is familiar with, this is a proposition much often easier said than done.
The problem: if everyone at a trade show is trying to sell the people they meet about their business, the following will happen:
- Everyone is selling, no one is buying;
- There is too much competition to make any headway;
- The pressure of sales turns attendees off and keeps them from using rational logic to filter true opportunities.
Professional conferences in this setting are difficult for building customer loyalty, causing attendees to wonder if they are truly worth it. Think: if you’re only one person out of several hundred that your vendor spoke to that day, you may feel like you’re a company “stepchild”--especially if you’re not one of the company’s largest accounts. The vendor is most likely going to put their attention towards the accounts they can’t afford to lose, so they spend their time in customer retention efforts rather than looking for new business such as yours.
4. Unorganized Environment
Whether your company is attending a trade show or presenting at it, you know the feeling. You spend hours preparing the content that you're going to present or network with other attendees and travel to the event, only to find that no one else has an idea of what they want to achieve from the event. A lack of organization is a common problem with these conferences and this feeling can be disheartening for anyone involved, leaving a bad taste in their mouth for any future conventions.
5. Sore Feet and Fatigue
Professional conventions are a lot like manual labor — at the end of the day, you're sore, you're tired and you aren't feeling positive. While your manager might talk about the conference like it's a luxurious vacation at a 5-star resort, it typically will be a lot less relaxing than that. Sadly, this is a complaint that tends to ruin an otherwise positive industry event for many of its attendees. This is especially difficult for exhibitors of very large shows, who walk 8-10 miles a day and are on their feet from dawn until the after-hours socials are over. Conventions are a marathon, not a sprint, and when you add in air travel, the damage to one’s health can be significant. We’re not even mentioning the poor food choices available at many event locations.
6. Endless Crowds and Endless Noise
It can be difficult to even separate what's real from what's just noise in an event with thousands of people milling around people trying to sell to you. How many pitches can you hear and remember? In this environment, it can be very difficult to stay sane, let alone find useful products, information and ways to grow your network. An idealistic employee believes that they'll go to a convention and come back with new information that helps them in their role with the company — but a realistic (or well-seasoned) one expects a headache.
7. Attendee Cliques
Maybe the content is fantastic. Maybe you’ve been waiting in line to get an autograph from your favorite speaker. But did you notice that group of people who seem to all know each other and are laughing and carrying on? There are certainly introverted professionals who feel like outsiders at break times because they’re not part of a larger group. Maybe they’re from outside the country. Maybe they’re older or younger than the rest of the attendee base. Maybe they’re women in a sea of navy blazers and khakis. There’s no debate that social situations are awkward in general, but that awkwardness manifests itself to an even larger extent at conferences. We all want to feel included, but many times it’s difficult to make friends with people who gather in large groups, especially if we don’t know how to approach new people in an unfamiliar environment.
How Can We Make Conventions Better?
I think we can all agree: conferences, conventions, and trade shows are well-intentioned, but in practice we know many attendees think they’re more of an annoyance than anything else.
So what’s the solution? Well, Convention Nation has the ability to fine-tune the convention experience on both sides — the organizer and the attendees. A membership with us means that you can tailor your convention experiences for your company and your employees, and receive recommendations for events that will deliver high ROI to you and your business. We want attendees and exhibitors to stop wasting time with events that won't benefit them by offering attendee reviews, suggesting events with higher possible ROI, and saving money with CN discounts. As our community grows, we’ll match you with people with similar interests, so you don’t have to feel as though you’re alone in a sea of salespeople. But it starts with you. If you haven’t done so already, please sign up and get on board with Convention Nation today.