trust

Conferences, Trade Shows, and the Trust Economy

Events are simply transactional if there isn't high trust in your organization, its fan base, and the vendors that support the community.

In December, I helped put together a session entitled "Trusted Marketplaces of the Future" for the International Association of Exhibitions and Event’s Expo Expo. Josh Packard, a sociologist, and Janet Sperstad, a neuroscience expert, helped design the session content and discussion.

The overarching thoughts from that presentation were that:
• Trade shows are a deeply traditional business model.
• B2B buying has changed a lot, however.
• There is a wave of social disruption that is changing how people procure goods and services.
• In 5 or 10 years, will your trade show still be a trusted platform for your industry?

While researching this topic, I came across Rachel Botsman’s idea of the “trust stack.” Rachel spoke a few years ago at PCMA’s Convening Leaders conference. She’s an expert on the sharing economy and collaborative consumption, and has done significant research on understanding how trust is earned or not earned by organizations. (Watch her TED Talk here) She identifies the three levels that make up a trust stack:
1. People trust the idea.
2. People trust the platform.
3. People trust the other users.

While many organizations are focused on experience design and networking as event differentiators, the fundamental truth is that events are transactional if there isn't high trust in your organization, its fan base, and the vendors that support the community. The idea, platform, and other users all must be trusted. 

Reprinted with permission from Velvet Chainsaw's Sticky Conference newsletter.

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