The End of Trade Shows?
Information Everywhere: For centuries, the trade fair and exhibition served as the central gathering point for information on new technology, and as possible meeting points with your industry peers. That's no longer the case. You can conduct some pretty deep research right from your desk these days. And that's what most people do, so that when (and IF) they do show up at the show, they're quite prepared.
"Kicking The Tires:" One of the major justifications for the prospect in traveling to a trade show was to literally "kick the tires" of the piece of equipment they were interested in. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of bringing large systems to a show and setting them up, many vendors have resorted to beautiful booths with nothing in them but video. Gone are the GRAPH EXPO days of yore when large offset presses would be set up and run for the attendees. So you have to ask yourself, why travel to a trade show to watch a video? As a veteran of too many shows to count, I can tell you that something mysterious happens when a machine is running in a booth. The sheer noise seems to act like a people magnet, drawing folks in from the aisles.
Extortion!: And lastly, the trade show companies can largely blame themselves for this trend. Only recently (during the start of the 2008 recession) have they realized the burden that expensive floor space, equipment drayage, and high-priced labor placed on their exhibitors. The large companies like Heidelberg, Xerox, Océ and others grew very tired of forking over a million dollars or so for the privilege of exhibiting. Instead, they have all invested in state-of-the-art demonstration centers where they can show off the best of their (and their partner's ) technologies.
So, where do we go from here? I don't think the large shows like drupa, Ipex, and GRAPH EXPO will be shutting down any time soon. China Print has become a major venue in recent years, and within the Asian and near-Asian markets, there is still a strong desire to travel to see the goods and meet new vendors. drupa is a major drawing point in that you will see manufacturers you never knew existed.