I went down to Boston on Sunday to accompany the Lovely Bride TM to the NE Food Expo and I have to say that it was thoroughly entertaining.
I have not been to a trade show like this in a few years and there were a few observations that I found interesting.
First, each attendee had a name badge with a 2-dimensional barcode on it. The vendors in their booths had supermarket-style scanners that could read the bar-code and print out a contact form. This form was pre-populated with the attendee’s contact information and then the vendor could write in any notes or additional information.
This is an expensive but very useful improvement to the “old way” of gathering contact information via a sign-in sheet or simply collecting a business card. I know that this is not exactly a “new” technology but it was the first time that I had seen it. The biggest impact on my own attendance at this show was that I felt much more comfortable because the vendors that I spoke with were less concerned about getting me to fill out their form.
“Can I scan you”, was all it took, much less intrusive.
Pretty Girls Hawking Their Wares
Of course, this is a standard expo/trade show gimmick: get some pretty girls to show off your products and get more attention for your booth. Since I was with the Lovely Bride TM I did not even bother to attempt to get any action shots of the young lovelies, she would have called “BS” on my claims of “research” (this is a stock photo).
What struck me about these spokesmodels was that only about half of them seemed to speak English as a first language, I suppose that it is an indication of the state of the economy.
About 25% were actual sales reps and were quite knowledgeable about the products or services, the rest simply played back a carefully memorized spiel. This leads me to the third observation – that there was virtually no Social Media component to this show.
Not one vendor asked us to sign up for an e-mail newsletter, mentioned a Twittername, or told us about their blog. Of course it is New England and these are hospitality vendors – not exactly on the cutting edge in media technology. It seems that the focus was much more on “going Green” than on creating a community. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
A Wasted Opportunity
With the badge-scanning technology and ability to register for the expo fully online, I expected a little more interaction from this trade show. Some of the most advanced tech that I saw offered were for surveillance of patrons and employees, rather than for communicating with customers and clients. I am curious as to how long it will take for Social Media tools and techniques to filter down to the rest of the marketspaces that currently do not take advantage of them.
It certainly looks like there is a market for an enterprising Social Media “Expert” to get involved with a training program…
What ideas would you present to a business that has no Social Media program?