Trade Show TalesBlog

Reflections on Trade Shows in 2018 | Neophilia vs. Neophobia

February 3rd, 2018 COMMENTS


Think back to your first major trade show, either as an attendee or an exhibitor. I’m guessing it was overwhelming… and wonderful! There was so much to discover, so many new people to meet, each with a history and storehouse of knowledge. You quickly realized that whether on the show floor, at a breakfast with a client, or chatting with others at the industry gala, that those three days in Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago were special. You couldn’t replicate it sitting at your desk — not on a phone call, via email, or though social media. You had to be there… and you had to be fully present.

Trade shows are a chance to learn and to change. It’s easy to forget that in our quest for the BIG SALE.

Why Is This Important?

I’m often asked, “Are trade shows are relevant?” Is there a future for industry trade shows? Do Millennials, or Gen Xer’s, or heck, even Baby Boomers, still want to attend them? Are companies willing to spend their valuable marketing dollars building a temporary structure just to attract new customers or meet with existing ones? In some ways, it seems a little old-fashion, as if video, live chat, online meeting spaces, and websites were never invented. So I understand, a little.

Here’s what I know. The trade show industry is in a bi-polar transition. There are those who want change (and significant change) vs. those who are actively or passively content with the status quo. Most would contend that change is not moving fast enough. Fewer exhibitors are truly passionate about trade show marketing, and attendees are questioning whether to attend the same shows. That said… Face-to-face marketing isn’t going anywhere soon; however, it may be unfamiliar to many of us in as little as 6-8 years. Consider the recent announcement by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association to scrap their 55-year old National RV Show.

Consider what may happen if the worldwide economy continues to grow, along with corporate profits. How will those companies budget the F2F portion of their marketing and sales departments? On the other had, what would happen if the the global economy experiences another massive, albeit somewhat shorter, recession. Same question as before… How will they spend their limited budget? Who wins and who loses in those two situations? How will those two scenarios create change?


Bottom Line

If you are planning to attend EXHIBITORLIVE, please come with an open mind and a desire to discuss change. How will you thrive over the next 6-8 years regardless of the global economy, and what can we all do, individually and collectively, to move the ball forward. For far too long, we’ve been stuck in a Sisyphean mindset, one that’s no longer sustainable long-term.

With this is mind, I thought I’d share a new word I learned from a Seth Godin post. Neophilia — a term popularized by cult writer Robert Anton Wilson, is a personality type characterized by a strong affinity for novelty. The term was used earlier by Christopher Booker in his book The Neophiliacs (1969), and by J. D. Salinger in his short story Hapworth 16, 1924 (1965).


Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

  • The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change.
  • A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine.
  • A tendency to become bored quickly with old things.
  • A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty.
  • A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.
  • A complete objection to or distrust of commitment.
  • The opposite of Neophilia is Neophobia (an aversion to novelty or change).

See you in Las Vegas in a month. If you need a FREE show hall pass, click on this LINK and enter code 4044.

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or

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