The great thing about trade shows is not the trade show itself, it’s the hallway. Specifically, it means that it’s the people you meet outside in the hallway is what makes the trade show for you. It’s the gathering itself, not the reason for going (i.e. the trade show itself).
There is a track going on at the Fall VON conference called the VONCamp Unconference. Instead of a dictated schedule set in stone likely months before, the Unconference is being one on the fly. Anyone can suggest a topic, anyone can speak. It’s about sharing and contributing.
I would have loved to have gone to this Unconference. I can only hope it’s so successful that they repeat it for the VON Conference in the Spring.