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The humble trade show has changed over the past few years and the pressure to get punters walking the halls means that more thought has to go into attracting people to give up their time to attend.
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There has always been a desire by show organisers to have all the big names in the market and a decade ago the absence of one or two of the big guns led to news stories wondering why they hadn’t bothered to turn up.
But that was where the main efforts seemed to be made because that put the butter on the bread and ensured that the show made a decent turnover.
Things have changed though because those companies attending demand a decent audience and want to know that their money and time won’t be wasted.
One of the main answers that the IT show organisers have come up with is to secure a big name for the keynote.
In the past the keynotes tended to be of a technical nature and rarely provided too much food for thought as they were delivered by a parade of government ministers or experts sticking to a largely predictable script.
Now that is changing and one of those shows that seems to have felt the changing winds earlier than most is IP EXPO.
Last year it secured Tim Berners Lee as its keynote speaker building on a couple of strong years where it managed to have Apple founder Steve Wozniak just a couple of days after the sad death of Steve Jobs.
This year the stage will be given over to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who will dices internet privacy and online censorship.
His session on 7 October is bound to be well attended and after hearing Wales the audience will then turn back to the show floor and provide the footfall so valued by the show organisers.
Bradley Maule-ffinch, IP EXPO Europe’s director of strategy, says: “Jimmy has strong views on European regulations relating to Internet censorship and the impact this has on businesses, so we are very excited to hear him speak at this year’s IP EXPO Europe.”
That excitement is the magic ingredient that trade shows are increasingly now looking for. Getting a decent keynote speaker is now one of the techniques that works and we can no doubt expect to see more events follow that lead.