The Cool Cycle of Trade Shows and Events

The cycle from cool to old to retro is a punishing cycle.

Even the old kitchen appliances that our parents, or we, abhored, are now back and popular once again…and much more expensive than before.

Not long ago, it was soooo cool to hide your appliances by matching their exterior with the same wood as your cabinetry so they blended into the environment.  Now, we’re back to making them the focal point of a room as in the above picture.  When did this trend start changing, and why didn’t someone send out a memo to advise that the Walkman was out and iPod was in?  That didn’t take long either, and I’m sure we’ll see the day that the Walkman is somehow cool again…though I doubt it.

It used to be cool to go to trade shows and conventions as well.  The education, the trade show, the social events, the big dinners, the networking.  Exhibit booths used to be cool, and the long, endless aisles were so cool because there was always something new around the corner.  Now, we’re seeing so much feedback that even those that plan trade shows don’t like being an attendee at them. 

With that in mind, has the cool gone out of planning lives as well?  Travel has lost its cool, with crowded planes, TSA lines, and 2 hour advance arrival times.

How long does it take for cool to become old, but then to come back as Retro and be cool all over again?  What is the length of the cycle?  It’s been 50 years since those appliances in that picture above were cool.  Can we wait 50 years for cool to come back to our Face2Face experiences?

Or, do we need to become the designers of cool?  Here’s a simple story about how vision and passion for something better helped bring cool (pun intended) back for the company that makes these retro appliances.

How do we start to find the cool designers for our convention, trade show, and event futures?  There are a lot of great events that are cool now, like EventCamp and others.  They will  grow old and tired.  What are the visions and designs that will allow us to learn, optimize, and connect?  Who will be the leaders of that design and bring color, form, and function to surprise and delight our every day lives?

We stand as the givers of judgment now…waving away what was once cool and a growth trend, welcoming in the new cool as our cool…the keepers of time so to speak.  How do we learn from the Retro trend…June Cleaver died this weekend, but lives on in our hearts through cable; the muscle car Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers, and Chargers are back on the road; there are even new record players coming out with better sound to allow us to spin our vinyl.

Our jobs is to put the cool back in the marketing, execution, and experience of live events.  We are not the judges and keepers of time, but the creators of the new experience.  The new exhibitors and attendees behind us are smarter, faster, and ready for cool experiences.  Like we were, like we are.

What once was old is new again.

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