The Trade Show Merry Go Round

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Although many of us in the Northeast just finished digging out from an epic snowstorm, it’s never too early to think about Spring and the start of what I like to call ‘Trade Show Season.’ Seeing Is Believing (SIB) 2013 got the party started early with their January event and you didn’t even have to leave the confines of your office to attend. Billed as Optometry’s first virtual conference, this two-day, online-only show came complete with educational sessions, keynote speakers and exhibitors. Heavily geared toward ECPs with an emphasis on practice management issues, the virtual aspect was an attractive option for time starved ODs.

Opti-Munich (see Page 46), also held in late January, kicked off the festivities for the international optical crowd drawing over 23,000 attendees from 70 countries eager to check out an impressive range of products offered by 491 exhibitors in four sold-out halls. At presstime, the optical community was looking forward to two more shows, Atlanta-based SECO in late February and Mido in Milan, set for the beginning of March (just days away from Vision Expo East).

All these shows bumping up against one another presents a bit of a conundrum for exhibitors and attendees alike. Travel costs and lost business revenues can make the trade show circuit a pricey proposition. Can you possibly attend all of these events and how do you pick and choose? Maybe virtual conferences are the wave of the future for trade shows.

According to a report from Market Research Media, the virtual conference and trade show market can expect an annual growth rate of 56 percent through 2018. And although the virtual conference technology is in its infancy, it’s only a matter of time before the virtual events and trade show worlds will merge, creating a mixture of new and old, the report said.

Some food for thought as we head into the dizzy pace of trade show season.

mkane@jobson.com