Pushing Paper: Using Technology to Make Trade Shows Greener

The tradeshow industry has been a notorious creator of paper waste. The left over paper brochures, show dailies, and trade publications strewn across the floor after a show tell the story of environmental disregard. Fortunately, event organizers are in an increasingly strong position to adopt technologies and vendors that replace paper with digital text, video, and images. Here are a few strategies for reducing paper and meeting an organizer’s green objectives.

Using Smartphone apps to replace or at least diminish the number of printed show directories and conference agendas. It would be difficult to eliminate all printed directories at first—some attendees still prefer print—however, in the not-too-distant future, mobile devices will be increasingly used to take the place of printed booklets.

Offering Session Surveys for conference sessions. The phrase, “please pass your surveys to the aisle so we can collect and tabulate the results,” is nearly a thing of the past. Free apps for Smartphones and tablets make voting and Q & A sessions incredibly easy and green. Making presenters aware of the apps and how to use them helps reduce paper waste.

Using Tradeshow surveys for attendee feedback. In the past, on-site surveys were performed using paper and clipboards. Not any more. Today, survey takers roam the trade show floor with iPads or other tablet devices and record responses with a pad and finger instead of paper and pen.

Offering QR codes for maps and session info. As Quick Response (QR) codes become more popular inside the trade show booth, event organizers can make use of them outside the booth. In locations where it doesn’t make sense to place an expensive kiosk, a QR code can be a paperless way to deliver floor plans, session descriptions and speaker bios.

Making Digital tote bags for e-brochures available to exhibitors and attendees. Some new technology for trade shows streamlines the delivery of electronic exhibitor brochures to attendees. By making the technology available, exhibitors will be encouraged to forgo printing paper handouts.

Selecting show dailies that utilize digital formats. Outside the industry, magazines are making a big push toward content that can be read on iPads, Kindles or other mobile devices. Taking paper out of the equation may lower the cost of the publications as well as decrease the flow of paper waste through the event.

Reducing environmental impact is at the top of the list of objectives for more and more event organizers. Looking closely at how vendors and products address the “green” issue will help bring planners closer to their goals.