What is missing from these two booth diagrams from Kodak and manroland? You guessed it – printing equipment!
Manroland, for the past couple of years, has decided to forgo a live, demonstrating press at the show. The company’s headquarters is close enough to McCormick Center that customers and prospects can see a demonstration and be shuttled back before the start of the show each day. Although this may irk the GASC and other vendors, this approach makes logistical and financial sense.
Kodak, on the other hand, does not have a primary location near the Chicago area so their motive is different. Could Kodak be starting a trend that other vendors will soon duplicate? I think so. According to their press release, Kodak’s booth will center around two key areas – the K-Zone and the Pipeline of Innovation. The Pipeline is an interactive, 24 foot display which streams images featuring Kodak innovations. If the display offers the same kind of interactivity as the CNN “magic wall” or Microsoft’s Surface product, the experience could be truly revolutionary. The K-Zone is an equally out-of-the-box spin on the traditional trade show guest lecturer or panel discussion in that it is formatted like a talk show. Hopefully the zone will offer the entertainment value of The Late Night Show with the aesthetic and authority of Oprah Winfrey. As an added benefit, the K-Zone segments will be streamed live over the internet for those not attending.
With vendors cutting costs and attendees being more selective in attending shows (or simply not going), there is much more of a marketing push to extend the message beyond those who attend. Whereas Kodak is streaming talk show segments, Xerox is creating a virtual trade show that will launch the last day of Print. After registering for the virtual event, users can gain access to demonstrations and events recast from Print ’09. The experience of the virtual show will probably have a similar 3D feel like Second Life. You can see an example at the host company, Inxpo.
Whether these new approaches are a success or failure is almost irrelevant. The fact that key industry vendors are experimenting with new layouts and technologies, means that the changes are here to stay. The trade show experience is evolving and becoming geographically insignificant and cheaper in the process. Now, if we could only solve the problem of personal interaction that real trade shows offer.