opinion

Why Getting Back to In-Person Events Is Imperative for Pleasure Biz

Why Getting Back to In-Person Events Is Imperative for Pleasure Biz

Even before COVID-19, consumers were already increasingly shopping online. During the pandemic, that trend naturally skyrocketed, and many of us store owners and suppliers became accustomed to leaning back and managing nearly all of our business from behind a screen. Now, sitting here finagling the first quarter of 2024, I want to remind everyone in the adult vertical why showing up at industry events and trade shows is actually more important than ever. Let’s talk about the power of in-person interactions, because they are 100% critical for navigating our future.

Taking It Back to the Floor

The collaborative potential of industry gatherings is waiting for you, so get out there.

Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a shift toward digitalization in almost every industry, including pleasure products. Online shopping and virtual connections have taken center stage, and for a while it  seemed like in-person events would become relics of the past. But guess what? They’re making a comeback — and they are way more than just showcases for buyers.

In-person events provide a unique opportunity to convey the “why” behind your brand or service, and to make invaluable human connections. When you physically attend an industry event, you’re not just showcasing your products. You’re sharing your passion, values and the story behind your business, while also making friends and creating the space for mutually beneficial strategic conversations.

It’s Not Just for Buyers Anymore

Historically, industry events were viewed as the place for buyers to connect with suppliers, discover new products and negotiate deals. That’s all still true, and there’s definitely nothing like seeing someone’s wares in person. However, the landscape has evolved. It’s no longer just about buyers; it’s about everyone involved in the pleasure biz coming together to help keep our industry on solid footing.

One of businessman and author Gary Vaynerchuk’s most trenchant observations is: “It’s not about how many transactions you can close; it’s about how many relationships you can build.” This is especially relevant in our industry, which is set apart from many other retail verticals by a truly special tradition and community ethos of sharing and collaboration. In-person interactions and events help keep that spirit alive.

Elevating the Adult Ecosystem, Together

Industry trade shows and events foster and strengthen relationships among manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers. These gatherings also offer the chance to catch up on and maybe even get out in front of the latest trends, issues, insights and tactics. The benefits go even deeper than that, however. Here’s how.

Iron sharpens iron: When you come to an industry event, you’re not just there to hawk your wares; you’re there to engage with peers, competitors and industry experts. It’s a melting pot of knowledge and from-the-trenches experience waiting to be tapped into. We engage in conversations, attend seminars, network with people from different corners of the adult world and share our successes and failures, all the while gathering fresh perspectives on shared challenges.

Wide-reaching networking opportunities: Our industry events offer a diverse and extensive network of industry professionals, including manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers. This means you get to feel folks out for meaningful connections, potential collaborations and those unexpected conversations that so often become long-lasting relationships. Even better, you can check the credentials of any new, intriguing contacts in real time with people that you already know and trust.

Open exchange of ideas: Unlike some retail verticals, the pleasure industry promotes an open culture of sharing and community support. Our trade shows encourage the exchange of ideas, experiences and best practices, especially when it comes to sticky topics like regulations, compliance, marketing, privacy, staffing and staying ahead of changing cultural norms.

Human interaction in the digital age: In a world increasingly dominated by automation and AI, the value of a genuine human moment cannot be overstated. Face-to-face conversations, handshakes, hugs, war stories and “winning plays” all become shared experiences that create personal, meaningful and sometimes lifelong connections that online interactions just can’t deliver.

Unanticipated conversations: Some of the most valuable interactions at trade shows happen spontaneously, in the form of unexpected sidebar introductions during the event or informal discussions over cocktails. Kismet or karma, these unplanned encounters often lead to valuable insights, new product finds and unlikely yet powerful partnerships.

Experiencing products firsthand: While digital presentations and catalogs have their place, there’s nothing like seeing a supplier’s products in person. Our shows allow us to get a firsthand look at new products, people and services, which can be a game changer when making decisions in the midst of a rocky economy.

It’s Time to Show Up

In case you’re wondering why a tech company CEO is hitting this topic so hard, let me be clear. There are some things tech can’t replace, and when it comes to events, you’ve got to do it in 3D. We support and work closely with many of the top adult brands in North America, so we hear all about their highs, lows, challenges and opportunities. We also see what happens when they get together to commiserate, celebrate and collaborate — something we hope will happen on an even grander scale in 2024. The saying “A rising tide lifts all boats” is spot on in this case.

Don’t underestimate the power of in-person moments. The collaborative potential of industry gatherings is waiting for you, so get out there!

Sean Quinn is the CEO of All Point Retail, a retail technology company that offers managed retail commerce to retail businesses. He is a true veteran, both literally and figuratively. Bolstered by years of military experience in a variety of positions and commands, his strategic intelligence background laid the foundation for his passion for business intelligence through technology — especially in the retail arena.

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