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AssociationsASAE Foundation, Exhibition Industry Foundation, Freeman, Gaylord Entertainment and PCMA Education Foundation announced today they have joined together to fund a unique industry project, Future Meet, in collaboration with Insight Labs and Manifest Digital, to predict and plan for the future of convention exhibits and tradeshows.

Acknowledging the initial exhibit and tradeshow model was constructed before the internet, email, Google, social media and the expectation of instant gratification, this elite industry group believes there will be negative consequences for the future of exhibits if significant changes are not made in the way the industry currently functions.

“The convention exhibits and tradeshows professional needs new options,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. “In the original model, buyers had to wait 12, 24 or even 36 months to meet face-to-face with suppliers to seek out new products, solutions and innovations. Those days are long gone. Today, with the click of a few key strokes, buyers can obtain immediate answers and quotes to their queries.”

In the first phase of the project, the leaders have begun to craft five potential models of the future tradeshow. The models, currently in development, have been influenced by discussions around the country with numerous industry leaders, association and tradeshow organizers, and others; in-person and online over the course of several months.

“One of the things ASAE has noticed is how the digital environment brings an added dimension to the attendee experience at tradeshows through different expectations about what is delivered, what platforms the experience is delivered through, and in the case of social media, the ability to share their experiences immediately,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE. “By participating in this project, ASAE will be able to discover how the digital environment will impact future tradeshows, so that we can inform our members and allow them, and ASAE, the opportunity to plan and incorporate experiences that will enhance attendee experience and overall value.”

“As communications channels and society continue to evolve, it becomes more essential than ever that IAEE and its members fully understand how change may usher in new opportunities as well as new realities,” said Steven Hacker, IAEE president, CAE, FASAE. “One of our principle challenges is to understand how technology may enhance the exhibition experience in the future. The ‘Tradeshow of the Future’ may yield valuable new insights that can help lead us along an imprecise path.”

Freeman and Gaylord Entertainment are both passionate and participative supporters of the Future Meet project.

“We are firmly committed to discovering the trends, ideas and solutions that will impact tradeshows in the future,” said Carrie Freeman Parsons, vice chair, Freeman. “Our obligation is to ensure the health of tradeshows. This project has stimulated creative thinking and idea generation that will enhance the experience for attendees, show organizers and exhibitors.”

Over the next few months, the industry can engage with the project online at http://wheredoesthefuturemeet.com.

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