Hey friends. Even though I wore the wrong shoes for this and my feet hurt just thinking about it, it’s time to talk about trade shows.

Welcome back to “From the Editor’s Desk.” Many of you have been in the industry much longer than me, some of you, less. However, we’ve all been to trade shows — a lot of trade shows. I love trade shows. I’m a pretty social animal as you can tell, and I really do enjoy being out there and meeting folks on the exhibitor side, on the attendee side. The networking is great, the social events are awesome and frankly, the learning, the education is valuable, especially to me not being a meat scientist or an engineer.

Yet, many times, when I’m at a trade show, I hear from exhibitors, attendees, “Why are there so many trade shows?”

I don’t disagree that the R&D cycle for equipment solutions is probably a little long for an annual kind of a setup. However, not every equipment manufacturer is on exactly the same schedule. Their R&D pipelines are at various speeds, various stages of development. We need to take that into account, but I do understand some of the complaints.

It’s expensive to send an entire staff to trade shows: sales, engineers, support; I get that. It’s expensive to send equipment to trade shows, especially equipment as big as this room, and I mean the green screen room, not the fancy office that typically is behind me.

The thing about trade shows is this: We all know, this industry specifically, the meat and poultry industry, is one built on relationships, built on friendships, built on trust. Maybe you’re an exhibitor who isn’t showing a brand new piece of equipment, but your people are there, talking to their customers. “Keep an eye out for this. We’re working on that.” Those kinds of things don’t always happen in the day-to-day work that we do with each other.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t love trade shows to the point where I think that they’re fine the way they are. We need to evolve as an industry, take that trade show and make it a must-attend event.

Obviously, I know… “This sounds like a great idea, Andy.” If I knew what the solution was, I wouldn’t be the editor-in-chief of The National Provisioner. I’d be running my own trade show. However, I am willing to help think about some things.

How can we evolve trade shows to make attendees want to be there, want to see what is on that show floor, want to be involved in the education sessions, whether presenting or viewing? What can exhibitors do to make their booths more attractive to attendees?

Yeah, sure happy hours are great, always a draw; dinners are wonderful; presentations in the booths are always interesting if they are on innovative topics. But I feel that we have all gone to enough trade shows in our careers at this point, that it’s time to think outside of the box. What can we really do as an industry to make the trade show ultra-valuable again?

No, that’s pretty much it. A lot of times, there’s more bloopers than we did and he throws in a blooper, but it’s not a requirement or a funny thing.