February 23, 2009

Trade shows industry turns to Internet

U.S. trade shows look about the same as they did a decade ago with the one exception that more and more often attendants don't leave their homes, data show.

Online trade show producers InXpo and Unisfair both report business will grow in 2009 from a year ago, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Unisfair produced 120 Internet trade shows in 2008 and expects to host 200 this year.

When the fair is online, all you need is a browser to attend, Unisfair Chief Executive Officer Guy Piekarz told the Tribune.

The traditional portion of the trade shows industry -- the portion that requires travel -- is expecting a slow 2009.

Tradeshow Week Magazine reported 87 percent of executives who manage trade show facilities expect revenues to decline this year.

But, online, business is brisk. InXpo has produced about 500 online trade shows since it began in 2004. This year, it expects to host about 500 more, the company said.

Right now, it's hard for us to keep up with the demand for existing customers, let alone add new customers, CEO Malcolm Lotzof said to the Tribune.