Trade Show Circuit 2013

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In just one month, the e-learning trade show season will be upon us.  While at one time there was little reason to be concerned, those days are way over. Why?  Too many e-learning shows.

I’m not just talking about here in the states, but on earth (not sure about Mars, though).

As a result, many of us (including myself) need to assess and weigh our options. Do we hit two sh0ws? Six? Do we travel to Dubai or visit Denver? Vendors are assessing as well. How many shows and more importantly,which expos are the right ones to show at?

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ASTD TechKnowledge

The one show I attend ever year continues to get better. The show is solely focused on e-learning and the vendors come from all over the world.  The seminars continue to be a mixed bag – I mean seriously how many times can they have the same person presenting “virtual worlds” – using the exact same information?

I think two years in a row is enough, but that is just me – on a side note if she is there again – avoid – waste of time. On the vendor side, nice set to select from although on the freebie side – always is lame.

Vendor Angle

A must for any e-learning vendor. This is one of only two shows that has a lot of decision makers present.  That said, vendors have found the show overall to be a mixed bag. What they tend to see is a lot of leads, but close ratios are long (higher than the average 4-6 mths. in the industry) and in many cases turn out to be duds.

It should be noted that in the past few years, the goal of attending a trade show and thus its expo is to be seen. If as a vendor you go in with this perspective, then you will not come away disappointed.

If you believe that this show or any other show will be a revenue gold mind for you, take two aspirins and don’t call me in the morning.

Attendee Angle

As listed above, seminars are a mixed bag (just as they are with any e-learning or heck any trade show). I recall one panel which discussed LMSs. The room was full of attendees. Many on the panel told people that it was better to build your own system rather than go with a fee based platform. Personally, I think that was a mistake.

Excluding the seminar side, ASTD TK always has a very nice amount of vendors and thus products to take a look at. 

I will be attending this year’s expo and reporting in real time via Twitter and my Linkedin group.

Be prepared to be disappointed in the free Wi-Fi. I still do not understand how a show that is tech and e-learning oriented can have such awful Wi-Fi on the expo floor? Last year they continued to have issues outside the floor too.  

Learning Solutions

Another top tier show. Great traffic and strong showing among vendors. 

Vendor Angle

Vendors have told me that overall they find this to be a very worthwhile event. Lead gen tends to be solid and close ratios are good. Again, just as with any e-learning show, you may come away disappointed.  Decision makers attend the expo.  Ideal for any vendor in the e-learning sector, including those on the talent management side.

Attendee Angle

Without regurgitating the seminar issue, the event typically is a strong draw. The event is in Florida which might dissuade west coast folks, but if you had to choose between this event and other general e-learning shows, this would be one of serious consideration.

I will be attending this year’s expo and reporting in real time via Twitter and my Linkedin group.

HR Technology Conference & Expo

A major misnomer is that the show is all about talent management, HRIS, ERP and performance management. It’s not. HR technology is coming into play more than before on the e-learning side. Whether that is good or bad, is for another time.

Vendor Angle

Why allow just the above type of products to be there? If I am a LMS vendor with TM features, then I would highly consider having a booth. Even I do not offer TM functions, but can interface with any ERP, HRIS (and pretty much everyone can), I would consider it.

Decision makers are big at this event.  Great foot traffic. Solid lead gen and close ratios. 

Attendee Angle

I hear nothing but raves about this show. Again mixed on the seminars but overall very good, even for non HR folks.  I will be attending this year’s expo and reporting in real time via Twitter and my Linkedin group.


DevLearn Conference & Expo

Another show presented by eLearning Guild. This show is really geared towards instructional designers, e-learning developers and alike. Yeah, I know the folks at eLearning Guild will disagree, but it is an accurate assessment.

Vendor Angle

Unless you are a rapid content authoring tool vendor, authoring tool vendor or one of those next gen lite systems whose main component is an authoring tool, be prepared to be disappointed. Vendors as a whole have found the expo to be average. Since the traffic is heavy on the authoring tool side as in instructional designer/developer folks if you are a LMS vendor how realistic is it going to be to generate huge $$$?

Lots of foot traffic but not as many decision makers as you might think. Lead numbers tend to be high, close ratios are average. 

I know of a one big time authoring tool vendor who saw lots of leads not a lot of buyers.  If you have a giveaway always expect high numbers – but do not assume that means they want your product.

Attendee Angle

I attended last year and came away disappointed. That said, I’m not an instructional designer. People who are have enjoyed the event.

mLearn Con Mobile Learning Conference & Expo

Also from eLearning Guild.  M-Learning focused.  If you are not offering m-learning within your product, then it is a time waster.

Vendor Angle

It is all about m-learning. Mixed bag from vendors.

Attendee Angle

M-Learning. Need I say more?  People have told me that the past year’s show was better than previous shows. It makes sense. More products are including m-learning as a necessity.

Will be interesting to see how many debut TinCan, self-contained native apps, HTML5 output and tablet focus in this year’s show.

Online Educa Berlin

While it boasts that the event is not just for education but also corporate, make no mistake it is heavily towards education.

Vendor Angle

Strong showing from European vendors. Nothing wrong with that. If you have an e-learning education product, then this is a show to consider. But if you are not global or targeting Europe, then it is a time waster. 

Vendors who have attended also see it as a mixed bag. Close ratios are unknown.

Attendee Angle

Education and academia focused for e-learning. This is a European show, so unless you are from Europe, this probably isn’t going to be on your list. I would consider this as a solid event for folks in Asia and Africa too, but you should be on the education side.



Education driven show here in the states.  If you are not in the education field, including higher education, do not attend.

Vendor Angle

Since it is all about e-learning in education/higher education, your product must be in that space.

Attendee Angle

Education driven, education focused. Enough said.

EduTech in Moscow, Russia

Similar to Educause but for the Russian market.

Vendor Angle

You do not have to be a vendor from the Russian market to attend, but you must be either already in the Russian market or trying to penetrate it.  I highly recommend that you have your marketing materials, etc. in the Russian language.

If you are not a Russian vendor expect lead ratios to be somewhat lacking. Close ratios – be prepared for a really really long time to close. The Russian market as a whole is still new to e-learning, but the country is heavily committed to it.  Higher education is the leader here. Corporate is still very new.

Vendor turnout is low compared to the other e-learning show in Russia.

Oh if you are a competitor of Blackboard, I would strongly recommend attending. Blackboard is having a mixed experience in Russia. Nothing like striking when they are struggling.

Attendee Angle

This show is really about the education side of the house. I know there were quite a few education people who believed that the education systems should be free. Speaking seminars were all in one room. 

LearnX Asia Pacific

A trade show in Australia that continues to grow each year. I was a keynote presenter in 2012 and really liked the event. The e-learning vibe in Australia is fantastic and as I have mentioned before, red hot!

Vendor Angle

Extremely small, which is a shame. While those who attended had a sales office in Australia, it shouldn’t preclude you if you are already in Australia or targeting the market. The key: 24/7 support. 

Because the show is in growth mode, attendee numbers were around 400. I know that is small, but just because it is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have decision makers, because it did.

A lot of people interested in learning management systems and authoring tools. 

Attendee Angle

The show has a lot of potential. What I did not like and I heard this from attendees as well, was that each vendor was able to present within the event.

As a result, with the exception of one vendor – IMC-AG, the rest went immediately into marketing/promoting their product under the guise of a topic. The worst offender was the social learning – Facebook LMS guys.

What I would do is offer each vendor a workshop in a separate area and then those interested could attend it.

Vendors love it because they can focus on the product and attendees like it because it cuts through the garbage and gets right into what the vendor is offering as a product.

I will be speaking once again at the show in Sydney. This time two presentations, one keynoter and one seminar.

eLearning DevCon

Brought to you from the folks at Rapid Intake, now part of the Callidus Cloud.  What I liked in the past was that even though RI was the key entity here, they did not shove their product down your throat nor did they heavily advertise.  Not sure how CC will play with that in this year’s show (i.e. 2013).

One big change: the event is no longer in Salt Lake City, but rather in Vegas.

Vendor Angle

Not a lot of vendors here. I’m talking maybe 8 and most from the Utah area. I suspect that will change.  This is a show heavily geared towards instructional designers and e-learning developers. And yes, newbies to the rapid content authoring tool space.

Attendee Angle

See above regarding attendance. If I am a seasoned instructional designer/e-learning developer I am going to like the show. If I am a newbie there has been plenty for you, but to me it seems more towards seasoned.


Training 2013, Learning & Expo

A show that is just average. Attendees that I have talked to tell me it is either good or poor. It reminds me of sitting on a fence.  At one time this show was quite good, but that time has gone bye bye.

Vendor Angle

Equally average. A few vendors I talked to told me that there was good foot traffic, good amount of leads but not a lot of deals.  The show still drives folks because of its name and past strong performance.

Attendee Angle

Attendees either love it or not.  I strongly believe people still attend because of its prior higher tier performance.  Not sure what is needed to make this a big winner let alone three star event.  Maybe you know.

I’ll jump away from starstar stars and go right into half a star.

I would call this show a dog, but that would give dogs a bad name.

cheyanneYes, she is one of mine.

Enterprise Learning! Conference and Expo

Vendor Angle

Vendors told me that in 2011 the show for them was awful.  Apparently they were stuck on another floor from the seminar rooms and traffic was light (to say it politely). 

This past year’s show (2012) was only slightly better, but one well known vendor told me it was a dog, and these guys attend a lot of shows.

Attendee Angle

E-Learning is what this show is all about. Uh, time to move on.

Bottom Line

As you can see there are a lot of shows, and this list contains just some of the bigger names. Selecting an e-learning show to attend is no longer a simple exercise. It takes research, analysis and assessment.

Budgets are no longer what they used to be – both from attendee and vendor side of the house.  If I am a vendor, I would focus on only a couple of shows rather than hitting them all.

Why? You will start to see the same faces, the same names over and over again. The same applies to attendees.

The trade show circuit reminds me of the e-learning award circuit.

A giant blur.

E-Learning 24/7


  1. Great run down of the conferences Craig and appreciated. Brought back memories of my experience at LearnX Australia but if there’s one thing I do in this life, I’d like to attend an international conference one day – maybe DevLearn is looking good for me. (If I can get my attendance and travel paid by my employer, it would be a bonus – but I’m not holding my breath)!


    1. Funny you should mention them. I was going to put it into the circuit but totally forgot. The show has always been known to be heavily focused on instructor led. Last year was no different, except it was now 35-40% e-learning, the rest ILT and within the ILT I saw several vendors who were ILT with some e-learning. Overall, a disappointing show. Lots of vendors – huge, lots of traffic, but again Wi-Fi issues. If you are ILT this is the show. If you are e-learning be prepared for lots of traffic, but not sure on true sales. Decision makers are here and this is truly a global audience. I would give it 2.5 stars for e-learning, 4 stars for ILT.

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