The Internet has all but killed off print media. Will Pittcon be the next victim?

Is_Print_Dead_2_0 A number of years ago, I wrote a blog entitled, “The king is dead, long live the king“.  You have probably been hearing about the demise of the numerous, old and venerable newspapers.  It is clear now, while the print media king is not dead yet, there is not much life left.  Check out “The Newspaper Industry Is Dying Before Our Very Eyes“.


Now consider the fate of such trade shows as Pittcon and how much life is left for this particular king. Why would the survival of Pittcon be in question?  The simple answer is that there are good alternative technologies that make Pittcon redundant.  These technologies are known as Disruptive Technologies. What is Disruptive Technology?  Wikipedia provides a good definition: “Disruptive technologies are particularly threatening to the leaders of an existing market, because they are competition coming from an unexpected direction. A disruptive technology can come to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market that the older technology could not fill or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents (as digital photography has largely replaced film photography).

What Disruptive Technology would kill a trade show?  To answer that question, you would have to understand why people go to a trade show like Pittcon and what technologies allow you to accomplish the same goals. Trade shows provide the attendees the following benefits:

  1. Technical seminars and training workshops
  2. Live product demonstrations
  3. Opportunity to have in-depth conversations with vendors and industry experts
  4. Opportunity to network with peers and establish relationships

I will refrain from mentioning the other more substantial and real benefits, such as the entertainment value of Disney World and the French Quarter, since you will not be able to put those down as justifications for next year’s trip to Pittcon.  I doubt that your boss will allow personal entertainment to be used as a cost justification.

What are the costs of these benefits?

  1. Air Fare
  2. Hotel (3 to 5 days)
  3. Ground Transportation & Parking
  4. Food & Drink
  5. Trade Show Entry Ticket (free to most folks)

This all adds up to about $2,000 to $2,500 per person for the 3 to 5 days not to mention the lost productivity that has to be made up while you are gone.

Tools such as Goto Meeting and YouTube have the great potential to marginalize or eliminate trade shows like Pittcon by eliminating these costs entirely.  The reasoning behind this is much like the reasons that major newspapers have been put out of business.  The large newspapers have huge cost structures that are not sustainable and the consumer and advertiser has shifted to the Internet as a viable replacement.  Goto Meeting allows you to attend Internet based seminars and training sessions and see live product demonstrations.  The Webinar and telephone lets you have in-depth conversations with vendors and industry experts. lets you network with peers and establish relationships.  Youtube lets you see in-depth pre-recorded product demonstrations and even training courses.

In summary, the benefits that you get from attending a once a year trade show are dwarfed by the real benefits and low, to no cost of the Internet.  The main benefit you will get from Pittcon that the Internet does not give you is the entertainment of Disney World and Bourbon Street.  While this benefit alone may keep Pittcon alive, the companies and vendors that do the actual funding of Pittcon may see it a bit differently.

The final death nail will be the slumping economy.  If a company has to choose between layoffs and trade shows, which one do you vote for?

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