Although representatives of Seybold Publishing haven’t yet provided official attendance numbers for this year’s
conference and trade show in Boston, Mass., it’s patently obvious to most here that there are fewer people here than at past shows. Most folks are blaming economic woes and the dot bomb fallout as principal contributors to the poor showing.
Exhibitors both small and large still made the trip, many showing off new products and recent updates to existing established products. Others are using the opportunity to effect some market repositioning, grabbing onto industry buzzwords like Web-based asset management and digital rights management.
Several vendors who asked not to be identified were openly worried about the poor showing, and wondered what the future held for such trade shows. Others were optimistic, saying that although overall attendance may be down, the key people they wanted to network with were still available.
Other vendors suggested that they’re scaling back their show schedules due to economic constraints. “Shows are very expensive to do, and sometimes it’s tough to justify the money we spend to get to these events and show the products,” said one exhibitor. “With the economy the way it is, we’ve had to scale back our marketing budget considerably.”
Several vendors didn’t make this year’s show at all. Some are still around, but others have dropped off the face of the planet all together. This provoked a comment from Seybold Seminars and Publications president Gene Gable, who has been contributing his thoughts in an editorial called “Generally Speaking.” The column appears in The Daily, the official daily show newsletter of Seybold Seminars.
“Most obviously, there’s been a real shakeout among the [business to business] Web service providers who, just last year, were hawking their services as a panacea for print buyers and graphic designers,” wrote Gable.
Gable takes solace in the fact that publishing isn’t a “new economy” industry. Although there’s no question that content creation, printing and pre-press is more dependent than ever on high technology, the technology is ultimately comprised of the tools of the trade.
Gable’s ultimate advice is for companies to “hang tight,” and recognize new opportunities to improve efficiency and produce higher quality.
“Innovation is risky, but so is sitting still,” wrote Gable.