Cannex – disappointing but definitive

Clodagh Monahan


Having recently added the final piece to our fleet of automatic gauges, Cannex presented itself as the perfect launch pad for the all-important American market. Following a very successful Cannex show in China in 2012, we expected big crowds and designed a stand to match our expectations.

Unfortunately for us and many other exhibitors; we threw a great party but nobody came. Feelings of anxiety were palpable when mid-way through the second day, the walkways remained barren. The only lone rangers were bored exhibitors.

“ We don’t have any customers, so we may as well talk to each other” the realisation our Dutch neighbours came to as we chatted on Day 2.

Despite a small rush on day 3 after the technical conference, the show was nowhere near salvaged. The talk on everybody’s lips: what went wrong?

Despite representatives from ‘The Canmaker’ assuring us they were happy with the numbers, the failure of the show was impossible to ignore. The first reaction is always to blame the organisers. Did they advertise enough? Where did they go wrong? But we can’t quite dump it all on them.

After the pack up on Friday we headed for a few beers and some hearty southern food with fellow exhibitors to hash out the reasons behind the apparent boycott.

‘Today exhibitions are steadily declining because there are more effective ways to disseminate information and provide opportunities for customer and supplier networking.’- Jim Pinto

We have to consider things from the possible attendee’s point of view. In the past there was no other way to compare so many suppliers from one location, other than exhibitions. Today’s quality manager is only a few clicks away from up to date brochures, videos, and direct correspondence with product engineers and sales teams.

Sales methods may also have also contributed to the death of the trade show with most vendors happy to travel to plants with latest literature etc. Similarly buyers are more often visiting our factories for specific demonstrations tailored to their needs.

We also agreed that lean manufacturing has led to an increased workload for many quality teams. Sending a manager to a trade show for 2-3days simply isn’t an option.

For years trade shows such as this had been dwindling, but always presented enough business to keep us coming back next time. Cannex has made us ponder the question: Maybe it’s time to stop going back?