Adult Trade Shows: Where's The Cheese?

Colin Rowntree
Okay, that was a strange headline, but here you are!

Colin here, doing a little historic tour of adult industry trade shows from beginning to end, and why we keep going to these events.

One of my first adult trade shows was back around 1997. It was one of the early "Fay Sharp" shows (that later became Cybernet Expo). It was grand in so many ways. But, one glitch: Fay publicized that there would be a wine and cheese lunch, but catering messed up and there was NO CHEESE!!!! This was the ongoing joke for the duration of that early show for many years to come, and is probably the running joke line for all shows to this day. "Where's the cheese?"

This brings us to the heart of the cheese matter: What is it that trade shows do for us as an industry, and what do the organizers of these shows do for us in the bargain?

As for the organizers.... Whichever one we name, and all will go nameless here, they all put in a massive amount of thought and work to make the experience a success.

In the early days, it was all about treating affiliates to a wonderful experience to curry favor with them. Cruise ships with a bilge full of hookers for free blow jobs? NO PROBLEM! 40x40 foot trade show booths with private lap dance rooms on the show floor? NO PROBLEM!

But then, when things changed, it all got smaller and sadder as far as the big promotions. No more big booths or promos. Smaller parties. Most of the 24 remaining affiliates on earth sequestered in a couple of penthouse suites packed in caviar and private dancers, not allowed to leave the room for fear another program would recruit them.

So, we have gone from little to big, and back to little. Oh My God! The trade show organizers work very hard to create compelling education seminars. They tweak badge prices from reasonable to free to see what happens (well, except Phoenix Forum that continues obscene badge prices). But, they keep on trying (on an ever smaller margin these days, like all the rest of us), and that is the point here.

What then is our response as webmasters and program owners to all of this? Sure, we can bitch about "too many shows", or the costs of going to them. But, in the long run, these shows are our life blood as far as B2B networking. That has been the point of them ever since the beginning, even with all of the gradual morphing for them to stay in business.

A few givens these days:

- If you fly to a show, it will be miserable and the airlines will bend you over in every way possible.

- The hotel that is hosting the show will bend you over for room rates and $20 martinis at the circle bar.

- There will be virtually no affiliates for you to entice that you will ever find, but at least 25 alternative billing solutions guys there that will go out of business within the year to give you an "elevator pitch".

- But, in all of that, there will be a few dozen B2B people that are relevant to your business that you can meet, develop relationships with, and go home to work with on joint projects that will grow your business.

At the recent show in Vegas, I had a chat with Michael from Qwebec Expo. I asked him how the show was for him and he blithely said, "Colin, I am here with hundreds of people in my industry that I can do business with, all in one spot! This is paradise for me!" I think that sort of says it all.

So, to end this little sermon: Go to as many shows as you can. These are where the relationships are formed that take your business forward.

And stop bitching about the lack of cheese.

Happy Trails, Colin at Wasteland.com

Upcoming Events:

XBiz LA: One of my personal favorites. Well run and organized. Perfect LA venue. Great programs. (Big kudos to Moe on infrastructure for this one.)

The Phoenix Forum: An industry favorite, but very pricey.

Cybernet Expo (YNOT): The dark horse and one of the best for seeing company principals face to face.

Webmaster Access: Good if you like to party. This show is a blast from the past when most shows were a madhouse!

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