WASHINGTON -- The Internet, which lets users access an almost unimaginably vast network of information, is being used by the Food Marketing Institute here to make attending its biggest trade show an easier, more efficient experience.
FMI members logging on to a password-protected page on the association's web site, www.fmi.org, can use an event scheduler to set up appointments with exhibitors at this year's Supermarket Industry Convention, to be held May 3 to 6 in Chicago. The vendors can confirm appointments via electronic mail.
"We have great hopes it will be a tool that retailers will use to satisfy their own time efficiences, as well as bringing a very large event down to a manageable size," Brian Tully, senior vice president at FMI, told SN.
Exhibitor information on the web page will include personnel registered for the show, booth numbers, and new products and services being exhibited at FMI.
If the vendor has its own web site, a "hot link" will allow an attendee to visit it via the FMI page.
The event-scheduling function was tested for FMI's MarkeTechnics convention in February, but the Chicago show will be its first large-scale deployment, said Tully.
On the show floor itself, FMI will also employ technology to improve the show experience. A special area in the North Hall of McCormick Place will contain six computer terminals with access to the Internet. In addition, four telephone data ports will allow attendees with laptops to plug in their own computers.