Yesterday I went to Ad:tech at Olympia in London. Great show. It was busy and vibrant and everything that a successful B2B expo should be.

Though I’m ashamed to admit it, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a trade show or event that I haven’t actually been working on.  Everyone in events should try it, because it is a great lesson in why people attend and what motivates them.  More importantly it helps you understand the barriers to attendance and why it is so difficult to attract visitors.

For starters – I was really motivated to go.  I’m being asked more and more about social marketing for events and when I read Marketing and other industry press there are terms I don’t understand and need to find more about.  I had also made an appointment to meet someone there for lunch, so I had a personal reason to attend.  In fact this is the 4th year I’ve been really motivated to go – and the first time I have actually made it.

I made the mistake of going into the office first, which meant that I was still there when the post came, so I opened it and of course there was something I had to deal with there and then.   This made me late leaving and I missed my intended train.

Getting into London was OK – but it was a two-change tube journey with a long wait at Earls Court – so by the time I got to the event it was already lunchtime.

The event was buzzing.  So buzzing in fact that I couldn’t get near any of the stands and the aisles were packed so browsing was difficult.  However I was really disappointed to see that even with lots of buyers and visitors working their way through the exhibition with purpose there were still exhibitors committing the sin of eating on their stands – no one want’s to be sprayed with pepperoni when they ask a question. 

I caught the end of some of the sessions which were filling every corner and had a cursory look around.  It’s tricky – a busy show is almost as unfulfilling for a visitor as an empty one – because you just can’t get near the stands and there is nothing more frustrating that having to stand two deep in an aisle for ten minutes to ask a simple question.

So I had lunch.  Then another brief look around, making a mental note of some of the services which I would look up later.  Then I left.  Why?  Because I was trying to make as much use of my time in London so I had arranged another meeting to go to that afternoon and needed time to get across town – something I suspect many tradeshow visitors do.

Was I glad I made the effort? Yes.  How much did I get from the event? Some.  What was the most beneficial thing I got from my visit? The event catalogue – because on the bus on the way to the meeting I saw a couple of adverts in the back from exhibitors that were so compelling that I am going to follow them up.

Hellen @missioncontrol


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