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360 The Beginning of the New Trade Show Era - Whats Next

The Beginning of the New Trade Show Era—What’s Next?

Just the name, “trade show,” sounds antiquated. You are a professional working within a profession. Most industry conferences aren’t about “trades” any more. And the word show might work for the automobile industry, equipment manufacturers and other hard goods for consumer audiences, but for most professional associations, a show may not be what the doctor ordered.


Imagine attending an event that promises and delivers on the following:


  • Answers to the questions you have about challenges and opportunities you’re facing but can’t resolve within your current network of peers and coworkers
  • Fresh new ideas and solutions to your problems shared by people you trust without a motive or desire to sell you something
  • Solutions to your problems shared by people who do have a motive to sell you something, but presented in a non-transactional fashion with evidence and insights that you’d expect from a real business partner
  • Best practices from people you’ve just met who share the same challenges, frustrations and sense of optimism as you, and who have been where you are and can teach you something new
  • Working sessions that are authentic, interactive and intimate, not the traditional breakout sessions we are accustomed to
  • Discussions that are provocative, edgy and smart, and don’t follow the traditional model of a series of polite speeches with no real debate, controversy or true insight
  • Thought leaders who are accessible and more than a “sage on the stage”—people who you can talk to and learn from; people who offer more than just a few clever quotes
  • And finally, an event that offers an environment that doesn’t leave you exhausted, emotionally drained, sleep deprived and craving healthy, delicious food, and that allows you to leave better, smarter, more confident and energized than you were when you arrived


Sound too good to be true? This is the future of the new conference and trade show model coming to a hotel or convention center near you. Sooner than you think.


One bold, smart and risk-taking organization is bringing this new conference model to market next year. And you may be surprised that it’s the 96-year-old American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), a professional association for all associations.


Yep, they are breaking the mold, innovating and delivering a new model that provides an alternative engagement model to the 100-year-old trade show and association conference model that I wrote about in last week’s blog, and breaking all the rules. Finally, a model that you should consider when looking at diversifying your organization’s portfolio of offerings to your members.


For starters, there are no trade show booths, no sponsorship lanyards, floor clings or column wraps. Instead, the industry partners have been involved from the start in designing an event that meets their needs and delivers on how to best build their businesses, create awareness and sell. At this brand new experience, they choose to be integrated into the event, sitting side by side their current and prospective customers, adding insight, ideas, best practices and building relationships in a non-transactional way.


On the flip side, the core audience at this event is association executives who plan, design, market and implement association conferences and trade shows. They are attending as a team with the intent of learning as a team, working with other teams, hearing best practices, troubleshooting and getting a fresh look at how to turn a twentieth-century event into a twenty-first-century association brand experience.


Our company worked with ASAE to design, build and market this new event, so it comes as no surprise that we’re excited about the potential of this new project to introduce an alternative event model that will change the game for association events and the people who are responsible for the events the association community plans and delivers.


This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to know more about what the future of association events look like, check out this site: www.XDPbyASAE.org. Better yet, join us next year at the beginning of the future of association conferences, May 23–24, 2017.


Hope to see you there.


Are you ready to have your annual event or association transformed? Contact us today — (202) 660-1200.

Don Neal Headshot

A marketing thought leader, speaker, teacher, and advisor, Don Neal brings his Madison Avenue experience to help organizations see their opportunities in a new light. He is passionate about helping organizations accelerate the trajectory of their success.

Don Neal
Founder & CEO
360 Live Media

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