What I like about conferences is the ability to see the latest products and hear the pitches from the vendors. Demonstrations are crucial, whether it is a 30 minute one, with an audience or one on one, with a potential customer.  Regardless, you need to have your product out and showing.

Yet, for all that do it, their are equal number of vendors who do not.  They prefer you grab a CD or DVD trial and test it out on their own. Strange, especially when you have a captivate audience, right there and now.

E-Learning Trade Shows

The Good

  • Demonstrations or Live Product – The majority show you the actual product and let you test drive it
  • Attendance booth person is attentive – more than at most trade shows across the board, that I have been to.. but I find it depends on the size of the booth, number of humans in the booth (inc. their own sales folks) and type of product they are pitching
  • Freebies – be honest, you often scope around to see what they have and if you can grab it.  Bonus points if you can avoid talking to a salesperson to receive it
  • Drawings – some of the best out there

The Average

  • Marketing materials – some can be outstanding and clearly explain the product whereas anyone can understand it; others are written that unless you have a degree in nanotechnology mixed with genetics and topped off with Latin, you have no clue what you are looking at – some are so bad, you would rather have a 30 second sound bite of the vendor just saying “buy my product”
  • People in the booth that actually know the product inside and out – I’m surprised on how this continues to be a problem at a lot of e-learning shows; some companies stock their booths with people who are very nice, but really do not have any knowledge on the product, beyond what they read on the product sheet they are handing you
  • Placards or posters of features, capabilities or services – a quick glance to see, to entice you, to check them out – sadly the majority do not do this, even those whose booth location is based on the paths known for heavy foot traffic

The Ugly

  • Vendors who do not have anyone in their booth, during expo times – I see this at all shows, regardless of the product or market; but at e-learning/training shows you see it a lot OR you see them eating in their booth. No offense, but please eat your salami, onions and cheese sub somewhere else, before talking to me
  • Vendors who hand you a product (trial) and their business card or they just have their items in a bowl and you grab one
  • The Swipe Rule – Vendors need to swipe your card to follow up with you; which is fine; but I cannot tell you the number of times when I was a Director of Training and told the vendor in the face to call me or email me, and never heard from them.  I hear the same horror stories from other training management folks too.  It is a serious problem in our space, and goes across all products and business size.

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