Attending a trade show, exhibition or other event is quite a commitment. Invariably, you are taking time away from daily responsibilities at work and home, budgeting for registration and travel expenses, and having to navigate your way in an unfamiliar city. The last thing you want is a trade show experience that is uninspired and unproductive.
Ocean Optics appreciates your trade show investment. We were show attendees before we were exhibitors — scientists and engineers like you who understand that science is as much a tactile experience as it is a theoretical one. With that in mind, we’ve departed from our regular First Person Science format to share the trade show insights of Ocean Optics Principal Applications Scientist Yvette Mattley, Ph.D., and Global Tradeshow and Events Manager Keith Mingolello.
Question: Ocean Optics has a long history of using “live” experiments as part of its trade show displays. How has that changed over the years?
Yvette: We still use live experiments for our trade show displays but they’ve definitely evolved over the years. We’ve gone from showing a cuvette filled with fluorescein or food dye to demonstrate fluorescence and absorbance — simply to prove the feasibility of miniature spectrometers to skeptical visitors — to customer-inspired, application-specific demonstrations. Our goals are to inspire, pay homage to our amazing customers and give everyone a chance to try modular spectroscopy for themselves. We won’t put a demo in our booth unless we’re excited about it and we’ve got great material to work with. So many researchers, scientists and engineers are using our products to make measurements in places and ways we never imagined. Our booths are really a tribute to them and all their hard work. They’re the ones who make the world a better place through optical sensing.
Question: I’m a visitor to a trade show with hundreds of booths to select from. Why would I visit the Ocean Optics booth?
Yvette: Besides the visual appeal to our booth — who doesn’t like flashing lights and glowing things — where else can you monitor an oil spill near an oil rig on the open ocean or build your own working custom OEM system? Where can you characterize protein folding or sort plastics for recycling? Every demo is an opportunity not only to see spectroscopy in action but to try it yourself. The words “Don’t Touch That” will never be heard or seen in our booth. We encourage booth visitors to try out the products. In fact, some visitors even bring their own samples to measure in the booth during the show.
Keith: Science is exciting, so a trade show involving science should be like an educational amusement park for researchers, engineers and technical innovators. But it’s not about gimmicks – people will see right through that stuff – it’s about relating the story of a product or application in an engaging, compelling way.
Question: With so much scientific discussion, technical material and even social media easily available via the Internet, why are trade shows still relevant?
Yvette: Trade shows are fun. We love meeting with our customers in person, hearing about their work and discussing solutions to their biggest challenges. Social media and other online discussions are great but they just aren’t the same as having a good old-fashioned chat with someone on the trade show floor. Instead of waiting for someone to download, “like” or repost your comment, trade shows offer real-time, personal interactions that are often much more productive than other means of communication. Stop by one of our booths and try not to share our enthusiasm for what we do.
Keith: Experiment and observation are part of what it means to be a scientist. Our exhibits are designed to encourage experimentation and observation in a way that other media cannot. We want to spark the imagination and get visitors to start thinking, what if?
Question: What do you remember most about the first trade show you attended?
Yvette: We were both amazed by the sheer size of the show. It was almost overwhelming to see so many booths and people in one place. There was an energy and buzz unlike anywhere else we’ve ever been. I guess that’s really where it all started for us.
Question: What can visitors to Ocean Optics at exhibitions around the world look forward to in 2016?
Yvette: We have some exciting new UV-Vis and NIR spectrometers that we will demonstrate in different ways, plus Raman technology that opens up interesting application possibilities. Also, many of our live experiment demos are inspired by customers, so we can truly say these are “real world” applications.
Keith: There are so many things competing for the customer’s attention that each year forces us to be bigger and bolder. We have some demos planned for shows like Photonics West, PITTCON and Analytica that are as ambitious as anything we’ve ever done. We are really looking forward to sharing these with customers.