Because she entered the trade show industry before cellphones or the internet, Sample has been a witness to a cascade of changes in the way shows are organized, how communication takes place before and during the shows, and the manner in which vendors display their messages at their booths.
“I think back and I wonder how we did shows, how we planned and executed these things on-site without cellphones,” she says. “Honestly, I don’t know how I got my job done without texting. That blows my mind.”
But even if digital technology has made trade shows more efficient and multiplied the possibilities for exhibitors, the heart of a show’s purpose is unaltered by social media or CGI, Sample says. There is enduring value in people from an industry coming together in the same building to make connections, learn about new developments and forge business opportunities.
“There’s still a place for people to come to do business, network, learn and have fun together,” Sample says. “That hasn’t changed.”
“Fortunately there’s still room for face-to-face interaction, and that’s what we do. Online trade shows were becoming a thing, and some people got worried, but I thought, ‘You know, this could add another layer to it, but I don’t think anything will ever take the place of people coming together face-to-face.’”