I understand the value of networking to the people. And with sales and marketing positions these shows add value. However unless you are in marketing I fail to see any value gained by the business in having other workers attend the trade shows.
With the internet most technologies are demonstrated better and earlier online before they ever get to the shows. I am looking to justify sending workers to trade shows using our training budget, but it seems this value is not really gained by the business and that the money would be better spent sending a few people to focus training every year rather than sending several people to the different trade shows. I understand the value of providing support if you have a booth or someone in your organization is presenting. But I am specifically talking about shows where the company has no real stake like this in the show. The employees would have the sole role of attendee.
Is there any thing gained by the business when sending its workers to a (comparatively) less expensive trade shows rather than focusing on practical training classes?