Trade Shows / 03.31.23 / By Chase Howells

Keeping it Real

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AI has been a big topic recently. Not just in the general news but specifically in marketing as well. Technologies that started as seemingly harmless automations have morphed into a world where creatives are being put out of work by machines. Articles, photos, videos, animations and more can be generated near instantaneously at little to no cost. The advancement of these AI technologies is happening at a rapid pace as well. What you think would take years has been taking mere weeks to formulate, and with that the impacts will be felt sooner rather than later.

Comparing what is tangible and real to a technological counterpart isn’t a new discussion. Certainly not in our realm of in-person marketing/events. Typically the conversation is about tradeoffs. Where I think many would agree that phone conversations can be more efficient and productive than email, the convenience and included paper-trail provided by email has seemed to win out. In trade shows and events, I believe the digital contender has repeatedly proven to be inferior to in-person, and we got to really test that the last three years. Though, to my point above, I do anticipate rapid and inconceivable advances in that area as well.

Our business is one that functions off of in-person interaction. This applies both to the live participation that surrounds our products in the field and the interaction we have with clients prior to it getting there. The key to success in trade shows isn’t focused solely on the product presentation, but on a holistic experience for the attendee and their interaction with the product. What moves the needle in SEO or on a website means little on the showfloor because humanity in its nature is more complex than an algorithm (even a sophisticated one). The way in which relationships are formed and felt in-person is very different than that over email, phone or video.

So while ChatGPT may offer to generate this monthly blog on my behalf, I will decline it’s offer. My preference is to put forth my actual thoughts, so what our readers and clients are receiving is real, and hopefully more meaningful. Having been able in this job to work with many creatives, I am often awed and amazed by the depth of human imagination. At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I believe it is important that creativity is driven by the human spirit. As the lines get blurred between what is created by person or machine, we risk being moved away from a world imagined by people into a simulated reality.

I hope all of us in the creative space can recognize the substantial nature of the tradeoff being described with these new technologies and don’t give away our position in favor of convenience. Let it push us to be more thoughtful and less mechanical so that the output cannot be matched, and stays at least one step behind. Am I crazy? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as it sits in the forefront, and while we still have a chance to hold our ground!

For some additional perspective on how this pertains to trade shows and events, listen below to a recent podcast discussion between two industry veterans: