Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 09 2013

Why Trade Shows Aren’t Going Paperless Anytime Soon

By Daniel Metz

Plenty of meeting professionals have been predicting the end of printed materials for quite some time now. As mobile users flock to app stores, it’s inevitable that trade shows and conferences will no longer have physical handouts, right? Wrong.

According to a recent study from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, attendees and exhibitors alike aren’t quite ready to embrace the all-digital revolution. The report highlights how exhibitors typically share product information and how their booth traffic actually prefers to receive it. An overwhelming majority of exhibitors - 85 percent - still typically share printed brochures and catalogs on the show floor, and attendees are happy to accept them. Those printed materials still ranked as the number one most preferred method of digesting product information.

SEE ALSO: What Attendees Want from Exhibitors

“Print collateral on premise and post-event is still pervasive, and a good proportion of attendees still want print collateral when they walk the floor,” Nancy Drapeau, research director, CEIR, says.

The research echoes what many other marketing professionals are discovering: paper is still special. In an age dominated by hundreds of emails, texts and digital messages, old-school elements such as postcards and brochures are regaining their meaning. While printed materials may shrink in size (let’s face it, every attendee probably don’t need that 100-page catalog), I wouldn’t expect to see them disappear altogether soon.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Meeting Marketing Strategy Shouldn’t Go Totally Paperless

Some of the other responses were surprising, too. Twenty-nine percent of attendee respondents indicated that they actually enjoy receiving product information on CD-ROM or disk. To frame this in my millennial perspective, my computer doesn’t even have a disk drive.

And remember when QR codes were all the rage? Well, that rage seems to have quieted. Just 14 percent of attendees expressed any degree of excitement about scanning a QR code.

What are you seeing on your show floor? Have any of your exhibitors tried anything revolutionary to make their product information more memorable? Share your experience in the comments section below. 

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