Welcome to the world of virtual trade shows.
Almost every major wood industry show has either been canceled, postponed and replaced with a virtual online presentation. I can only think of two, this fall’s Fine Furnishings Show in Providence, R.I. and the 2021 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, that are forging ahead with in-person events.
IWF 2020 in Atlanta has been replaced with the virtual IWF Connect on Oct. 26-30. Having never attended a virtual show, I’m not sure what to expect. But we’re told IWF Connect will be “a show without walls” and a new way for the woodworking industry to do business. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore thousands of new products, browse a gallery of machinery and solution demonstrations, connect with exhibitors, and participate in education sessions.
There are some obvious advantages to a virtual show. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to flying, staying in a hotel, or spending time away from my family. Plus, sitting in front of a computer sounds a lot more relaxing than walking through the IWF day after day. And I’m certainly not upset about missing Atlanta in August.
But the drawbacks are also numerous. For someone who has basically been under house arrest for the last five months, I was sort of looking forward to getting out and about. In other words, I won’t get to spend time away from my family.
I also won’t get to shake an exhibitor’s hand and enjoy a face-to-face discussion. I won’t get to experience the sights and sounds of live machinery demonstrations. I’ll especially miss meeting and talking with subscribers. And I’ll miss the show’s buzz and energy. It never fails that a particular product or invention steals the show, and the news spreads fast. Can that happen during a virtual show?
We’ll find out because there’s really no other option. I’m not excited about a virtual show, but I hope it’s amazing. Something has to go right this year.
This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue.