One year ago we declared the demise of the Offshore Technology Conference. This is what we wrote in May 2018 after last year’s OTC:
The era of the trade show is over, killed by the Internet and temporarily on the same life support as your local shopping mall. Why build a mini city, fly in your team of salesmen for a week, and wait while random people (like me!) come over and ask vapid questions? Why would you go to such great expense to have no control over who you talked with and what they wanted to talk about? Is there no other way for a customer to learn about your products? Is a qualified customer going to randomly walk by and say – whoa! I never knew those guys made frac pumps! I think we’re seeing a repeat of what our dad revealed 40 years ago: Oilfield trade shows are just too darned expensive to be much good anymore.
We were eager to see this year’s OTC numbers, to see if excitement around this year’s stable to rising oil prices and a return to growth in offshore drilling would build the crowd.
Guess what, attendance is still down:
This year, the oilfield equipment and services market, which bottomed in 2016 at $226 billion (according to us) will rise to almost $300 billion in 2019, up 30% from the trough. If big trade shows mattered and were tied to the economy of the oilfield, this year’s OTC should have had almost 90,000 attendees, not 59,000.
So we stick by our analysis, trade shows are more show than trade.
Our advice in 2019 is the same as our advice in 2018: For a fraction of the cost, put your money in smart digital marketing. Understand your buyer’s decision-making journey. And, best of all, once they know who you are, bring in customers to tour your plant and talk with the engineers.