Remember when industry tradeshows, exhibitions and events used to be huge? This was a while ago now – back before you had to take off your shoes at airport security. Truth is, even before 9/11 changed everything, attendance at industry events was already declining.
Now event organizers face an even greater challenge: How to compete with social networking and emerging technologies like Twitter, Webex and Skype that let insurance and financial services professionals participate in the dialogue right from their laptops. The web provides greater access to information from anywhere in the world 24/7. Gone are the days of waiting for industry events to find out about the latest and greatest.
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Index, the exhibition industry declined 12.5% in 2009. This drop was four times larger than the largest previous decline of 3.1% in 2008.
Event organizers have realized that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. We’re now seeing a growing number of virtual tradeshows and events, and it’s a good bet that this trend will only accelerate. COMDEX, a giant North American technology show, which used to attract 200,000 visitors before it was shut down in 2003, was recently relaunched as a virtual event.
You’ve voted with your feet and your travel budgets, staying away from tradeshows and getting more and more active in online communities. You’ve grown up with computers and the Internet. You can text as fast as your kids (well, almost). Now you’re ready to explore the exciting possibilities of social networking, new media and virtual events.
According to a survey conducted by the American Insurance Marketing and Sales Society (AIMS), some 60% of respondents are using social networking sites for business purposes. 76% have started using LinkedIn and nearly half are using Facebook.
Here at Camilion, we’re following our customers’ lead and embracing virtual events and social media as an integral part of our communications strategy.
Part of this is economics: Just as insurers and financial services companies have had to make hard budget calls about travel to events, technology vendors have also had to tighten the purse strings and do business smarter and more economically. But, ultimately, it’s not really about saving money. It’s about giving you the information you need to make informed technology decisions in whatever medium or format you desire.
You’ll still see us at select industry events (we’ll be at IASA in Texas in June, for instance, so if you’re there, drop by and say hello), but more and more, we’ll be working to recreate the experience of one-to-one face-time you used to get at tradeshows in our online activities from webinars to virtual events.
So stay tuned. We’ve got some exciting things in store. And if you need to reach us, you can find us anytime on the Web or – if you want to kick it old school – by picking up the phone.
– Gwen Lannaman, Vice President, Marketing