Trade show organizers have only one true motive for investing in event technology. The platform, application, or hardware must ultimately achieve a singular goal—to drive profits. So, while boosting productivity or enhancing the customer experience are legitimate benefits of particular technologies, they are just means to an end. Event technology buyers have to focus on the connection between purchase and profit even though the path isn’t always clear.
Straight to the destination
Some technologies offer a more direct connection to the bottom line. Those that reduce workloads or increase operational efficiencies—databases, CRMs, spreadsheets, online booth sales platforms—make it possible for companies to reduce the cost of human resources and error. Others such as mobile apps (with advertising and sponsorship potential) or digital content capture (for resale), for example, can provide organizers with as yet untapped opportunities for revenue.
Needing a few more signs
The path to profit for other applications or devices is less obvious. It can be more difficult to demonstrate that matchmaking software or near field communication or drones impact the profit of an organization or event. But, just because the relationship to profit isn’t abundantly clear doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. For customers who value the experiences that these technologies provide enough to exhibit and/or attend because of them, the investment ultimately drives profit.
The long and winding road
Where does that leave technologies whose profit contribution is hidden or misunderstood? Social media or collaborative-economy platforms come to mind. One could argue that event organizers mandated to make a profit should stay away from those types of investments and in the early stages of adoption, many do. The problem is that technologies that appear as profit dead ends in the beginning sometimes bloom later on and forward-thinking enterprises should be vigilant.
Costs of the trip
While the path to profit is paramount, everything is relative. For example, the technology has to be a good fit for the culture of the organization and its customers. If no one uses it, the investment will fail whether the profit potential is there or not. The purchase price is only one component in determining whether a technology contributes to profit. The total cost of ownership, training, technical support, customization and human error have to be factored into the decision also.
The beauty of the map
From the organizer’s perspective, focusing on a technology’s relationship to profit simplifies decision-making for the individuals in the organization. Making the profit argument also gives technology providers an opportunity to arouse the interest of would-be buyers who are much more interested in the event’s profit and loss than they are in the features of the technology—an apt characterization of many event managers and show directors.