SXSW Trade Show: Is It Really Worth it?

Attendees walk the SXSW Trade Show Floor
Attendees walk the SXSW Trade Show Floor

#OverHeardAtSXSW: “Trade shows just seem like a waste of money. I can’t believe they get that much turnaround from attending.”

The 2014 SXSW trade show started March 8, and ran for 7 hours. leaving plenty of time for attendees to scope out the companies that could afford a booth.

The trade show floor was bustling all day. Attendees wandered about, some engaging in conversation, others looking to score free gear.

Keeping with the spirit of SWXS Interactive, there were plenty of opportunities to interact with companies products, play games, and observe trending technology at the festival.

However, this all still begs the question: “Do these companies get enough in return for the $2,880 to $40,000 they spent for a booth at the trade show?”

Janet Cacchioni, representing Vanarts, an art’s institute based in Vancouver, and a SXSW attendee for 10 years believes that the smallest take away is worth the trouble.

“I expect about 50  signups a day,” she said. “If we get one to two enrollments out of that, I’ll consider that a success.”

The CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) agrees that trade shows are here to stay.

“We have all sorts of technological solutions today that can connect people, but the retro solution that has remained is trade shows, and it’s the most valuable solution,” he said in an interview with MPIweb.

According to the MPIweb article, research conducted by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) showed that “48 percent of trade show attendees said face-to-face interactions at exhibits during exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings are more valuable today than two years ago, and 43 percent anticipate this setting will be more valuable over the next two years.”

Jonathan Smiga, vice president of marketing for Chuao Chocolatier, remarked that trade shows are worth the cost, if only to make a broader impression than to just unveil a new product.

“It’s a great time to show the marketplace that you’re improving your business. Maybe you’re in a bigger booth than last year,” says Smiga. “You are a material player who’s evolving, with more resources that you can bring to their needs.”

While after parties work for some, and gorilla marketing work for others, the trade show at SXSW remains – for many – a viable option: giving them direct access to a pure supply of paying interactive attendees.