I managed to get up to the last day of the Online 2009 exhibition yesterday. It was little different to any of the previous Online events I have been to over the last 15 years. The main difference seemed to be smaller stands from the large information vendors with the central space of the main floor being a cafe area. I’m sure this space was normally taken by an exhibitor. It made me wonder whether this was simply a result of the recession or whether the days of large exhibitions like this are numbered. Before the web, exhibitions and trade magazines were a major source of information for purchasers to find out what new products were being offered by information vendors. B2B magazines such as IWR and Information Today have clearly been hit by the plethora of useful information now available on blogs, company websites and filtered RSS feeds from a variety of sources. Perhaps exhibitions are going the same way. The cost to companies of running a stand at online must be significant in terms of fees and staffing. Of course, many exhibitors will say that they pick up a lot of business at these events and I’m sure for some of them that is still the case. However, with all the other communication channels open to them, I’m not convinced the economics will make sense for a lot longer. Having said all that, I enjoyed catching up with a number of people at the exhibition which, for me, made it all worthwhile.
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