How The Industry’s Online Video Conferences & Exhibitions Can Improve

With online video as hot as it is, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what I think of all the online video conferences and exhibitions that have popped up within the past twelve months. I’d also like to hear your comments on this topic as well.

As far as I am concerned, the more conferences we have about the technology AND business of online video, the better. Do I see this crop of new shows as competitors to the shows we produce at  Not really. There are some big differences between all of the shows and many of them are focusing on just one niche or in my opinion, are not focused at all. But any one show, helps all the shows as it helps to educate the market. That being said, here are some things I think the new shows are doing wrong:

  • The cost to go to the conference is too expensive. The way to grow a show is to look at it from the bigger picture and realize that the cheaper you keep it, the more people you can get. Yes, the short-sided approach would be to charge $3,000 for a conference pass and make more money today, but do you really think you can grow a show at that ticket price? You have to think about the longevity of the show.
  • These shows don’t give out attendee numbers or attendee profiles. If you are going to say your show is a success, judge that success based on what attendees and exhibitors tell you. Yes, the number of attendees you get is important, but I find very few shows ever give out those numbers. Why? What do you have to hide? If the numbers are not as good as you hoped for, fine, then work on growing the show. But don’t hide the number as it automatically gives people an impression that your traffic expectations were not met.
  • Why are there so many speakers on one panel? If you have an hour long panel, or even an hour and fifteen minutes, how can you have six or seven speakers? That’s the wrong format. Putting more speakers on a panel than you really want just so you have a long list of speakers is not beneficial to the attendee. And why does each speaker get five minutes to introduce themselves? If you have six speakers, it’s takes 20-25 minutes just to get through introductions. Limit the introductions to one minute, and one minute only like we do. Yes, sometimes due to logistics a panel may be a bit bigger than you want (for East we have two sessions with five speakers) but all your panels should not be this way.
  • Why are there so many suppliers speaking? Where are all of the end user customers? Why do so many of these shows allow companies to buy their way into speaking spots? Yes, that may work now, and you may get more suppliers, but in the long run, the show will not grow in terms of attendees. You can call them what you want, but too many of the stand-alone sessions at these shows are product pitches.
  • How are you marketing your show? You need to have more than just blogs and word of mouth to market a show. You have to reach attendees via many forms of marketing. Many of those shows don’t even have an e-newsletter let alone anything they send you. I have signed up to receive marketing materials for many of these shows in a digital form and haven’t even gotten those.
  • Know your subject. How can you advertise your show as being the place to go for info on this subject and then spell the word QuickTime as "Quick time" on your website. It may sound silly, but how legit does that make you look, especially when you haven’t even put on your first show yet.
  • Where are all the how-to sessions? So many of the sessions I see are from companies showing you how to use their product but not showing you how to do things in general. Why aren’t there more how-to sessions that show attendees how to actually do all of this stuff we talk about? You can only have so many sessions on theories and the future.

When it comes to show logistics, many show organizers have limited control over various aspects of the event. For instance, we don’t offer WiFi at our East show which I know a lot of people
complain about. The problem is not that we don’t want to, but that the hotel keeps us from doing so since they sell WiFi as a paid service. That being said, what do we do wrong at our shows that we can control? I’d love to hear
coments on this as well as what you see other shows doing well.

I try and improve on every show we produce but it is hard too when we don’t get feedback and know what people want and what they feel we did wrong. Usually the only kind of negative feedback we get is about what kind of soda we did or did not serve at lunch. So here is your chance, I’d love to hear from you what we did wrong or what we are not doing at the show so I can improve on it.