I’m writing this from Chicago, where I’m smack in the middle of the Motivation Show, trying to understand why I’m here. I’ve come up with a list of things we don’t go to trade shows to do (but find ourselves doing anyway), as well as the reasons why we still attend them after all these years and despite all the technology intended to replace them:

We don’t attend trade shows to:

•Eat hunks of Omaha steak prepared on a Weber grill in the middle of the convention center. The entire show floor smelled like a Fourth of July barbecue, which is nice—as long as you’re a meat-eater.

•Torture our toes in those new shoes that we thought would be comfortable.

•Fill up on chocolate-chip cookies and truffles and completely over-caffeinate ourselves.

•Stay up way too late trying to catch up on the work we missed by spending the day at the show. Get up way too early the next morning. Repeat three times.

•Watch one more fake Elvis gyrating in the Vegas booth. (Oh, that’s right—Elvis has left the building because of budget cuts.)

We do attend trade shows to:

•Look into the eyes of our customers and readers and ask them how we can help them.

•Bump into old industry friends and compare pics of our kids on our cell phones.

•Sit down with those same old industry friends and find new ways to work together.

•Sponsor or lead education sessions that don’t include a stitch of self-promotion and actually serve the industry.

•Learn a few things (there’s always something new to learn).

•Honor, recognize, or engage individuals at a live event that can’t be replicated online (as we did at our CMI 25 recognition event).

On another note, the Motivation Show faces an unprecedented level of competition next year, with the new IMEX America show kicking off in Las Vegas October 11–13 and the new AIBTM: The Americas Meetings and Events Exhibition making its debut June 21–23 in Baltimore. Much of the talk on the show floor was about how the meetings industry can’t sustain three shows, and about who was co-locating their events around which shows and who would be exhibiting where. Stay tuned to our Web site for the latest news as all three shows jockey for position in the coming months.

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