The Outpost: The New Open Air Trade Show
There’s a changing tide in the outdoor trade show model, and to be honest, we couldn’t be more excited about that. We recently attended The Outpost, a three-day getaway that offered a refreshing take on the traditional trade show concept. Here were a few of our favorite things about the event.
The vibe was casual
How many of us typically go to a trade show with a jam-packed agenda that took weeks to create? You’ll see meetings in your calendar anywhere from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. only to end just in time for happy hour, which sometimes feels like a meeting itself. It’s difficult to wind down during the “fun” events at trade shows after such a hectic lineup, but at The Outpost, the vibe was casual right from the beginning. After signing in on the first day, the only scheduled events involved food and fun activities, which were optional. You could literally chill in a Chillbo Baggins Chair the whole time with no obligations. It was almost too good to be true.
Located in beautiful Bodega Bay, California at Chanslor Ranch, the “office space” was unbeatable. Throughout the day, attendees found themselves exploring shipwrecks on beaches, hiking trails together on the ranch, and watching the occasional shuffle over the horizon. We were literally outside the entire event. Now it seems simple enough, but putting 150 people in the outdoors with a wide open schedule might have been the best formula for networking and commerce opportunities, which is the real reason we attend trade shows, right? But with a 380-acre coastal plot of land as our playground and a bunch of free gear from Rumpl, Miir and Goal Zero, inevitably we made friends with our neighbors and brought the gear on our adventures voluntarily and with no pressure. It’s incredible what people will do if just given the space, time and tools to do their own thing.
Perhaps, our favorite part of The Outpost was getting the opportunity to fill our schedule with fun workshops as opposed to meetings. We love getting our hands dirty and trying new things, so when we had the opportunity to choose from a roster of activities like surfing, cooking and woodworking, we were so stoked. We even learned how to make fire with with Elemental Awareness at their Outdoor Skills workshop. Real fire! With our own two hands! It was incredible. We also enjoyed a super zen session of yoga at one of the highest peaks of the ranch with West Oakland Healing Arts.
So if we’re heading in a direction where workshops and surf sessions are replacing meetings, and trade shows are being held at beaches, in the forest or in the desert, we’re in 100%. We can’t wait to see what else people come up with while reimagining the dated outdoor trade show model.
Images by Jen Abercrombie, Lisa Dougherty and RJ Rabe.