Why do we go on trade fairs?

This week the world’s most important information technology fair takes place, the 27th issue of the CeBIT. And after a break of some years I was there again. Since I live in Hannover, where the whole thing takes place, it was natural for many years to go there and look for the newest trends, gadgets, programs and computers. So I went there every year in excitement.

The boom year was 2001 when 810,000 people visited the week-long exhibition. I still remember my childhood days, when it was common to let private rooms for trade-fair visitor since there was not enough hotel space for all the people. Last year only 339,000 people visited the CeBIT. And also for me this week was a short return after years of absence, because I was invited to a startup pitch.

But what happened? No more spectacular technology break through? No new phones, computers, software? You will find all that at the CeBIT – but usually you know all about it well in advance. The web made it possible with videos, social media and blogs. You get all info if something new is coming up there – not on a fair. And the web spoils most upcoming things right before the fair is opened (anyway I guess most of the “spoilers” are normal PR work). So the CeBIT transferred to a place where business people can meet up and make deals. Or to see a sales presentation. I wonder what all the non-business people do there. In former years you could go hunting. Today you’ll only get big paper bags with even bigger logos on it to carry around, well other paper bags (no joke, you see loads of people doing that).

Also there is an amazing number of trade fairs worldwide. If you take a look at eventseye.com you will find nearly 8.000 fairs. A good part of it – name it 500 – are fairs on information technology. So if you like, you can visit another fair each day of the year.

For me somehow the whole fair turned from an excitement/fun event to just a normal (boring) business event. I wonder if I will ever come back there with the excitement of past …

(Picture by Robert Wo)

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