No matter what industry brings you to the show floor, it's safe to say that new technology will be a growing opportunity, and possible distraction, for both attendees and exhibitors. We at Steelhead love new technology and appreciate the number of opportunities it presents, but we've also identified the potential for it to be misused.
The trade show floor has always been a place for humans to interact and connect. But, because of advancements in communication technology, we’re unfortunately seeing more and more of those interactions being replaced by tech.
To learn how technology can continue to enhance our experiences, we sat down with Steelhead's co-owner and CMO, Rhiannon Andersen, to get her take on things. Here's what she had to say.
Q: How is technology influencing the trade show experience?
Rhiannon: Technology is like the sparkly thing on the trade show floor. It’s flashy and glamorous, and that’s all good if tech is used to help enhance the human experience and aid in communication. The operative word there is “aid.” Technology should never replace the experience of humans connecting.
One of the unique marketing attributes of the trade show floor is that it’s a rare opportunity for buyers and sellers to come together face to face. By no means do I hate technology, or its place in society, but I think it should always be used thoughtfully.
Q: How can you differentiate between good and bad uses of technology?
Rhiannon: It’s important to think about how an attendee’s interaction with technology will influence their experience. If it’s integrated into a personal interaction with someone else, that’s great. But if it’s replacing that human interaction, then I think that’s a problem.
So many of our interactions are already digitized. Take the opportunity at the show to break free from that norm a bit, and find ways to use technology to enhance those connections.
Q: Which pieces of technology do you see as particularly risky on the trade show floor today?
Rhiannon: One to pay particular attention to is VR and augmented reality. Again, I think these are really exciting and useful technologies, and I’m a big supporter of their use. But, it’s all too easy to let them override a potential personal interaction with someone, especially when you’re completely enveloping them in a digital world.
Q: What are some good examples of a positive integration of technology?
Rhiannon: If there’s a VR demo, have a booth staff member provide a personal explanation of how to use it first. Or, if you want to do a Q&A, have those questions come from a person vs. asking attendees to complete them on a tablet.
One of my favorite uses of technology happened at a recent CES. Nescafe used a robot named Pepper, paired with a booth staff member, to provide a tutorial on how to use Nescafe’s new coffee brewer. The staff member followed along with Pepper’s instructions and made the drink to order in front of the attendees.
Throughout the experience, both the staff member and the attendees were having a conversation with seamless integration of technology wrapped into the meeting. It was perfect.
Create more meaningful connections at your next show by taking a more integrative approach with your latest technology. And, get more tips on succeeding on the show floor by checking out our white paper, 7 Keys To An Irresistible Trade Show Campaign.