EVENTS & PROMOTIONS;SPONSORS WATCH THE PUBLIC BEAT A PATH TO SHOWS ON TECHNOLOGY

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The Internet is more than an experience-it's also turning into grist for events.

Last month, more than 26,000 New Yorkers flocked to Mecklermedia's Internet World Home & Office Expo despite a bitter snowstorm, proving there's no substitute for hands-on experience, even when it comes to the ethereal world of onscreen communication and virtual reality.

Co-sponsored by The New York Times Electronic Media Co., the event offered sampling and demonstration of computer and online services, as well as educational events about the future of consumer interactive media.

VALUE IN CONSUMER SHOWS

While Alan Meckler, chairman-CEO of Westport, Conn.-based Mecklermedia, said he considers his primary business "Comdex-like" computer trade shows like Internet World, he also sees a valuable-if brief-market for consumer Web shows.

"I'm not sure there will always be a need for a consumer Internet show," Mr. Meckler said. But for now, he's pursuing deals in foreign markets-including 1997 shows in the U.K. and Australia. Also in his plans: an annual consumer "supershow."

Mr. Meckler said the February show broke even with $360,000 in revenues, a small sum compared with his trade shows. He expects to triple those revenues at the next New York consumer show in late '96 or early '97.

`NEWSWEEK' ACTIVITIES

Mecklermedia isn't alone in sponsoring consumer computer events. Newsweek is the consumer magazine sponsor of the ComputerMania show that began last fall and continues through this year, produced by Softbank Expositions. The magazine was also title sponsor of its own 1995 Newsweek Technology Tour, which showcased Lotus Development Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Sharp Corp. and other advertisers running a $500,000 minimum print schedule in the newsweekly.

Stefanie Hirsch, manager-marketing programs for Newsweek, said her magazine will again stage the tech tour in 1996, with an August-November schedule.

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