The outdoor exhibits at
CONEXPO/CON-AGG in Las Vegas
In the ideal world envisioned
by purveyors of trade show technology, attendees would
touch a computer or wireless device at practically every turn.
Before the event, they would register online, plan their assault on
the show floor online, make appointments with exhibitors online,
and communicate with friends and like-minded attendees online.
Once on the floor, their badges would
be scanned automatically, with lead-retrieval information being
added to exhibitor databases without any human interference.
Session participants would instantly be counted as they passed
through the doors of the breakout rooms via RFID (radio frequency
identification) readers strategically placed to scan their
The show’s RFID badges also would allow
attendees to exchange electronic business cards and find
participants with similar interests, either business or
All the myriad data gathered would be
available to the host organization, the exhibitors and the buyers.
Furthermore, that information could be parsed into any fathomable
report the meeting planners might need to justify events, determine
the popularity of various sessions, calculate ROI and more.
Sounds futuristic? The technology is
readily available. Why, then, don’t the nation’s biggest shows use
it to the fullest advantage? The following is a look at how
technology has -- and hasn’t -- infiltrated some of the largest
Last year, more than 124,300 people
converged on the Las Vegas Convention Center to walk the 1.8
million-square-foot show floor packed with exciting new entries in
the construction, construction materials and power transmission
industries during the triennial CONEXPO-CON/AGG.
Staged by the Milwaukee-based
Association of Equipment Manufacturers, CONEXPO uses Frederick,
Md.-based Experient (formerly Conferon’s ExpoExchange) for
registration and lead retrieval. The organization’s other large
show -- the biennial International Construction and Utility
Equipment Exposition, at which 17,000 attendees will wander 1.25
million square feet of exhibits in Louisville, Ky., next year --
now buys similar services from CompuSystems International of
But neither show offers much in the way
of sophisticated badging or electronic social networking. The fly
in the ointment for implementing some of the latest in RFID
technologies? About half of CONEXPO’s and more than 65 percent of
ICUEE’s exhibitors set up outdoors, and “RFID scanners don’t work
well in rain or wind,” notes Megan Tanel, CONEXPO’s director and
AEM’s director of exposition services.
Before the show. The
organizers are just beginning to offer a show floor mapping tool,
basically a virtual trade show listing for all exhibitors, provided
by Cincinnati’s Mapyourshow.com. “It’s a way for exhibitors to get
attendees to con-tact them pre-show to set up appoint-ments,” says
Lynda Schmitz, registration manager-expositions for both shows.
Badges. Attendees use
a paper badge and are issued a magnetic-stripe card that holds
their demographic information. It is swiped at booths and in
Experient markets its products to exhibitors, offering ExpoCard
Standard, a desktop unit that stores smartcard information and
provides a printout; ExpoCard Mobile, a handheld device, which also
provides a printout; ExpoCard Connect, where a PC in the booth
connects to the exhibitor’s home office and builds a show database
on the fly; and Expo Real-Timer, a wireless device that transmits
leads to a password-
protected website. After the show, exhibitors get their leads on a