Every time I return from a large international exhibition, I arrive, full of new spiritual energy. Perhaps I am like a pilgrim returning from a pilgrimage. Visiting an exhibition is a ritual in its own right, with its own structural order, processes and  a published system of events. It’s no coincidence, that the exhibitions are recurrent, thus creating a coherent community with positive personal and social relations.
Some form of  ritual accompanies most holidays – in this sense visiting the IMEX exhibition was a holiday of the meeting industry. On a holiday our homes are kept neat and tidy – and this is the way the exhibitors introduce themselves to their public. Day to day work of the industry slows down as the world prepares for a celebration.
Few people in the world are really in tune with the exhibitions liturgy. The master Ray Bloom is one of the few in the know. His knowledge is about recognizing trends and finding solutions to the problems of the industry. Yet it is also about creating a community and finding the right way to address your followers. When saying goodbye to every exhibitor at IMEX one by one, he proved once again he is one of the few, who understand the rituals of this industry to their core.
Incomprehension of the complexity of organizing an exhibition manifests itself in the frivolous criticizing of the events shortcomings. The times, when anyone could take up this business are over, along with the crisis. Room is left only for dedicated professionals, who understand the added value. The exhibitions will keep their importance in comparison to other marketing tools – in my opinion, the crisis will only strengthen it. I do expect however, to see some events, driven solely by desire for profit, to disappear from the meeting industry map. Actual social responsibility of the meeting planners will be required. Instead of quantity of invited guests and exhibitors, their quality will be the deciding factor. Where and which exhibitions to attend after the crisis will be an important question in the future. Churches of different religions have survived through the years due to their steadfastness and consistency. The same will be true for exhibitions.
I for one will keep believing in exhibitions rituals with charismatic leaders, until we find a suitable virtual alternative, which will revolutionize the area of distribution. First virtual fairs already exist:  www.virtualtradeshowhosting.com.