As we have said, some exhibitors (and attendees) seem to be souring on trade shows. If this is your problem, maybe it is time to completely reinvent your show. But be sure you retain—and indeed enhance—your uniqueness which is that buyers actually pay (in dollars and time) to meet with sellers. No other marketing medium can claim this.
Here are some thoughts to consider regarding the reinvention of your show:
Change to an attendance model of fewer but more qualified buyers.
Facilitate formal (scheduled) encounters between key buyers and your exhibitors.
Identify your market's super buyers and treat them like the Las Vegas casinos treat their high rollers.
Compress the exhibit contact hours and eliminate all conflicts during those hours.
Go to a low (or no) cost conference program, particularly in markets where potential attendees don't have control of the purse strings (e.g. engineers).
What are you doing to reinvent your show? Let us know.
FYI, consultant Bob James has written a thought-provoking article entitled "The End of Tradeshows." To obtain a copy, contact Bob at email@example.com.