We're having a discussion over at ScrapBiz about Trade Shows and who's attending which show. The thought occurred to me (and was brought up in an earlier discussion about trade shows) that a Virtual Trade Show would be AWESOME for the industry!
Retailers often can't afford the time or money to go to too many trade shows each year. A virtual one, held perhaps in conjunction with a physical trade show or even just on its own, would offer the chance to more retailers to participate in the excitement and specials of a trade show.
This is how I envision it:
Special invitations containing the website and a unique registration code are mailed to retailers. Once they register with their information (which will be passed on to ALL participating manufacturers so they can follow up), they will get access to the show site. At the show site, they will have access to sneak peeks and project samples/ideas. They will also be able to order show specials. Shoot, even if they registered for a sample pack of products from each vendor, it would STILL be cheaper for the vendor to send a small sampler than it would be for them to go to a trade show.
We are going "digital" in this industry more and more. Maybe it's time for our trade shows to go a little "digital" too! No, the Virtual Trade Show will never replace the excitement of an actual trade show. Some people prefer the crowds and the hands-on experience of make and takes. But, a certain percentage of retailers don't go to every show, every time. This would give them the opportunity to participate in a show that in turn, allows vendors to reach out and market their products to retailers who may not have ordered from them before.
BTW, we are quite a few weeks away from CHA Summer and already, there are consumer grumblings about Sneak Peeks and why aren't they showing up. I say, "HOLD 'EM!!!!" Releasing sneak peaks to ANYONE but retailers (and even then it shouldn't be done more than a day or two before the show) only creates headaches for retailers as consumers put the brakes on buying anything in their store for fear they won't have money to buy all the new stuff that won't show up until late summer. We must break the cycle of "WHAT'S NEW????"
Retailers should get the pleasure of introducing new products to their customers after the show. Instead, Design Team members are allowed to scoop everyone. It becomes a race of "who can post it first" because there is personal glory in being THE ONE who told EVERYONE about a new product. Let retailers bring the products they spent money on to their customers at their convenience. I know the LSS near me has a Saturday class after CHA in which they talk about what they saw and ordered at the show. That's as it should be! Let the RETAILER excite the customer. Hold on to those Sneak Peeks as long as you can!!!