Chuck Michel is ELITeXPO’s VP of Trade Show Services, Musician, and St. Louis Cardinals Fan
After my band finished a late-night gig the other night at a local St. Louis establishment there were a few folks that joined me for an after-show beverage. While we were hanging out and chatting the inevitable question was posed where someone asked what business I happened to be in. At first, I wondered âIs this because they figured that I had better not quit my day job after they heard me playing guitar, or is this just the typical ice breaker question that inevitably always comes up in many conversationsâ? I trusted my instincts and decided to go with the latter of the two! After my brief elevator speech where I made mention that I was involved in the trade show industry, one individual commented, âBoy, those have gotten to be really popular these days, there seems to be so many more of them now and for every industry.â I smiled and said yes, fortunately for those in our business itâs true, there are many of them! But what I realized is her comment indicated to me that she (along with many others) probably didnât realize that trade shows have been around for centuries, actually dating back to beginning of time. So, I thought why not share a little history on the industry that keeps ELITeXPO ticking every day.
Trade shows, in various forms and venues, have been around since the beginning of time. In medieval times in Europe, produce and craft producers visited towns for trading fairs, to sell and showcase their products and services. They took time to talk one-on-one with potential buyers and explained why their offerings were better than others that were available. Then, sellers negotiated a purchase price (or bartered goods or services) until a mutual agreement was met with buyers.
At one time, exhibiting per se was one of the only ways to market or sell goods. And perhaps served as a necessary survival tactic to provide for families. The exhibit industry can trace its roots to the ancient bazaars of the Middle East. During the 1700âs these exhibitions became somewhat commonplace in Europe and North America.
Fast forward a few centuries and trade shows, as we know them today at ELITeXPO, became very popular in the 1960s. Since then sellers and buyers come together in events of all sizes and types â from simple to sophisticated. From small street fairs to multi-million dollar shows in huge exhibition venues to virtual trade shows on the web, trade shows remain key to facilitating the exchange of goods and services. No doubt, the concept of exhibiting and face to face marketing will stand the test of time.
While the general format of trade shows has remained consistent over the last 20 or more years, the increasing cost to exhibit has led to changes in the exhibit product industry. Just a little over 10 + years ago, right about the time that we started our Tradeshow Services division at ELITeXPO, trade show exhibits were often custom designed and fabricated from plywood or similar substrates and a variety of laminates. Then there was a quick evolution to Pop-Up or quick set up âtoollessâ portable exhibits that to this day are still popular for the 10â wide spaces and I feel safe to say will continue to be so. Today trade show exhibits have evolved to the ever-popular manufactured exhibit âextrusion systemsâ with large, high impact fabric Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG). This application, along with a myriad of custom accessories and elements can make for a very dynamic environment. For example, in addition to the vibrant large format fabric imaging (both backlit and front lit), interactive technology is becoming a very important medium in the booth environment. These interactive mechanisms (touch screens / interactive gaming / interactive live presentations) not only afford the opportunity to educate and reinforce a brand or product, but many times also offer a form of entertainment. We like to call this âedutainmentâ because itâs the best of both worlds. Educate the attendee on your product, increase brand and product recognition, and at the same time make the experience both entertaining and fun.
Todayâs sellers and buyers come together in events of all sizes and types â from simple with small footprints to massive gatherings with Islands and double deck structures that can be very elaborate and sophisticated.
From small street fairs to multi-million dollar shows in huge exhibition venues like McCormick Center in Chicago or the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando (to name a few), trade shows/events/symposiums remain key to facilitating the exchange of goods and services across all industries. And in my humble opinion, nothing, I mean nothing, takes the place of face to face marketing. No doubt, the concept of exhibiting has and will stand the test of timeâŚand thatâs good news for all of us in this constantly evolving, ever changing and exciting industry!
Have A Good Show!