I recently had the opportunity to attend Convey '23 in Omaha, NE, and was reminded how much I like going to small regional tradeshows and conferences. Do not get me wrong, the hustle and bustle of the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) and the GEAPS Exchange can be a blast. But each of those shows attracts thousands of members of the industry, has dozens of education opportunities, takes place in larger cities and venues, and can end up overwhelming depending on the attendees' plans.
Convey '23 was a great show, in part because it was smaller. By the end of the day-and-a-half conference, I felt like I had connected with other attendees. After all, we had sat in the same room for 10 hours, shared breaks and meals with each other, and even started what will hopefully be a lifelong working relationship.
I also got a chance to learn about arts of the industry in sessions I probably wouldn't have picked if I had been given the option to choose between multiple education tracks. Finally, I was able to catch up with old friends in the vendor hall.
For many in the grain handling and feed manufacturing industries, smaller regional trade shows may be the perfect fit for many of their needs without the cost of attending a larger event. Here are a few of the benefits of smaller events.
- Networking opportunities: smaller events generally offer more intimate settings, which can facilitate meaningful interactions and networking. With fewer attendees, it's easier to connect with others, engage in in-depth conversations, and build valuable relationships.
- Focused audience: small events often attract a more targeted and niche audience. This can be beneficial if you're looking to engage with individuals who are specifically interested in your industry or field. Conversations can be more relevant and productive as a result.
- Less overwhelming: large conferences can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of attendees, sessions, and exhibitors. Smaller events are less likely to leave you feeling lost or unable to navigate the offerings effectively.
- Access to speakers and experts: smaller events might feature speakers and experts who are more accessible. This can lead to better opportunities for one-on-one interactions, questions, and discussions with those who have valuable insights to share.
- Increased visibility: In a smaller event, it's often easier to stand out and make an impression. As an exhibitor or presenter, you're more likely to have your offerings noticed by attendees, as there's less competition for attention.
- Collaborative environment: smaller events can foster a sense of community and collaboration. Attendees are more likely to engage in open discussions, share ideas, and even collaborate on projects or initiatives.
- Customized experience: smaller events may offer more flexibility to tailor your experience. You might have more control over your schedule, the sessions you attend, and the people you connect with.
- Less noise and distractions: larger conferences often come with more noise, distractions, and a bustling environment. Smaller events tend to have a quieter atmosphere, which can be conducive to focused conversations and learning.
- Cost-effectiveness: Smaller events can be more budget-friendly in terms of registration fees, travel expenses and accommodations. This can make them a more viable option for individuals and organizations with limited resources.
Of course, this does not mean that larger conferences also have their merits. They often bring together a wider range of participants, showcase the latest industry trends on a larger scale, and provide access to high-profile speakers. The choice between attending a small or large event should be based on your specific goals, preferences, and what you hope to achieve from the experience.