This week was CES in Las Vegas, traditionally one of the biggest trade shows anywhere in the world. Despite the surge in Omicron cases, the organisers decided to persevere with a face-to-face event – even though many of the biggest exhibitors pulled out.
Did it work? With pictures across social media showing some near-empty exhibition halls, it’s arguable it didn’t. The organisers say they had 40,000 visitors, fewer than a quarter of a normal year.
In the longer term, it feels like the demise of the traditional exhibition is forecast every year, with steadily decreasing attendee numbers. It may be that COVID finishes off the task that the internet started, killing off the trade show once and for all. Personally, I really hope not – there’s so much we get from personal contact that the online world can’t provide.