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Tablets and tradeshows: Like peanut butter and jelly

An electronic gadget once synonymous with Apple’s iPad®, the tablet is a mobile device that is now available through numerous brands under a variety of names. A cross between a laptop and a mobile phone, tablets are effectively changing the way in which we communicate—primarily, website design has shifted and the app market has boomed, producing a plethora of new tools that aim to make life easier and more fun.According to a USC Marshall Institute for Communications Technology Management study, tablet ownership in North American households is projected to increase 20 percent in 2011, with no signs of slowing down.

With this impressive growth comes significant opportunity to utilize tablets at trade shows as a new way to engage with trade show attendees and speakers. Consider implementing one or more of the following ideas in your next trade show experience:

  • Interactive conference programs
    Traditional paper programs are costly to print and become outdated practically as soon as they are distributed. Not to mention, they’re also cumbersome to carry around and difficult to use. For a while, mobile apps helped supplement traditional programs but now it’s time to move on to greener pastures. Or, at least, bigger screens.Tablets open a new range of possibilities. Not only can the conference program become interactive, it can also provide easy access to a wealth of information on the speakers, topics, session hand-outs and other events. Videos of the speakers with slides and transcriptions can also be included after the event.
  • Survey distribution
    Whether at booths or near the registration table, surveys are routine at trade shows in order to gain insight on attendee thoughts. Paper surveys, however, are laborious to tally. Tablets, with decidedly larger format, similar to a paper page, could be the perfect solution. This will allow the interviewer to collect the data as he or she would with paper and a clipboard, but capturing and tallying the data electronically in a much more efficient manner. Tablets could also be used with a self-service survey kiosk as well. As participants finish surveys, booth tenders and trade show reps can add the human touch by handing out small gifts like business card holders or leather coasters as thank-yous.
  • Interactive exhibits and kiosks
    Opportunities to engage booth visitors and trade show attendees with tablets abound. Consider developing an app that allows visitors to experience virtual product or service demos while using tablets, or instead of cluttering your booth with brochures and handouts, consider simply placing tablets on a table for passersby to peruse. Any literature they want, they can simply e-mail to themselves. What’s more, high-resolution, multimedia presentations can be given anywhere, including the booth, due to the tablet’s great portability.Some experts also predict that as more and more people come to own tablets, these devices will provide a much more convenient and efficient way of navigating the exhibit hall. People will be able to search on an exhibitor name or product category to identify booths they wish to visit. Then, using a tablet’s location-aware GPS capabilities, attendees will be able to see exactly where they are in the exhibit hall floor plan and then identify from booth-to-booth the most efficient navigation steps to visit them. Thank those who find their way to your business’s booth with fun branded giveaways like a USB drive or a delicious snack
  • Lead generation
    One step forward in conference and trade show lead generation are online tools aimed for tablets at trade shows. Instead of standing in line waiting to pick up and return bar-code equipment, the exhibitors simply download an app, and then they can enter a badge number on their tablet. This will pull the contact information from the event registration database. It then contains customizable qualification questions, survey questions and actions items. Lead tracking can now also be tied into exhibit demos mentioned above. When attendees identify themselves via badge numbers or scans, topics based on their profile can be presented and/or specific interest areas chosen can be tracked. Custom bags filled with samples, swag and literature unique to the visitor’s interest are now an easy possibility.

Tablets hold great potential in meetings and trade show spaces. Take a leap into the years to come and consider adding a tablet-friendly element to your next trade show experience.

USC Marshall Study Shows Powerful Growth of Tablets in North American Market – Yahoo! News.The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News. Web. 02 June 2011.

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