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We need a Four-Day InfoComm Show

As I’m writing this, it’s one week until “Infocomm Eve,” the evening before the show floor opens at Infocomm17. In years gone past that night was dominated by the Infocomm keynote address and awards presentation. However this year I’ve noticed a trend that may speak to change going on under the surface.

I’ve been invited to no less than four parties/receptions on Tuesday night next week. Add to this a possible vendor diner and private group dinner, and Tuesday could rival any other night of Infocomm for busiest of the week. My usual mode is to look for trends, and this is an interesting one. Manufacturers obviously have decided that the time has come to move out of the three days and two nights format of the show floor days and expand things out. The audio demo rooms are already going to be completed for display on Tuesday. How long will it be until the full show floor is open those four days?

The show floor is already slated to be the entire width of the west concourse of OCCC. It wasn’t all that long ago that things didn’t expand all the way to the right, and anything past the obvious divider in the main hall was “no man’s land.” Now you’ve got quality booths all the way to the end. With this added floor space, have we gotten to the point where it makes sense to open the floor an extra day? It’s very easy even now to spend all three days in booth tours with the big booths that have gotten insanely huge. This leaves not a ton of time to see the rest of the floor. Some of the best items I’ve found at Infocomm were back in the small booths, the 10×10 or 10×20 booths. You are likely to find something that needs to be in every install you do, or a service you didn’t know you needed but now can’t imagine living without it. I think we are short changing these booths now that the show has gotten to this size and we keep it at three days.

I can hear every manufacturer groaning as I suggest we go to 4 days. But it’s starting to become needed. It’s easy to get distracted by the Crestron booth, or the Milestone booth, and they are certainly worth your time to visit. But do yourself a favor and carve out some of your limited time this year to cruise the edges of the hall. You may find the next big thing before everyone else.

8 thoughts on “We need a Four-Day InfoComm Show

  1. The expense to exhibitors would hurt as much as feet killing them. Yet, I agree with the congestion of sharing time. Still, there always seems to be a last day; dormant and quiet. Maybe with the starting Tuesday, you want less of a circus and more of a conference for valued exchange. I don’t know. The circus rolled a long time on sheer momentum before Ringling & Barnum folded the tent. To me, the format does have to change. It is out of proportion and if Starin had not done #AVselfie this year, boring, because I can get whatever was being “pitched” otherwise.

  2. Maybe a compremise. I work many shows and events at OCCC. Some of them start their Exhibits with afternoon and/or evening hours on the first day. Typically a bit more of a happy hour setting, allowing attendees to get a quick overview of the show floor and plan the next few days while also networking and having a good time.

    So maybe 3-1/2 days before 4?

    Yes there are many issues to juggle regardless, but the size of the show and amount to do does seem to dictate more show floor time.

    • John, thank you so much for your comment. I hadn’t thought of the 3 1/2 day idea before. But it could actually work with that last 1/2 day serving as the last few hours to see and meet.

  3. I’m with John. No. The truth is there are plenty of manufacturers who struggle all night on Tuesday to get the final product ready for the Wednesday morning reveal. It’s utter chaos on the floor on Tuesday night. Regardless of what InfoComm reports, after decades of shows, I have to disagree with the fact that it was the “record attendance”. In walking the floor, I didn’t bump into people, I didn’t have to struggle to find a path, some of the aisles were wide open and empty at times. Years ago this wasn’t the case at all. And does ANYBODY really believe that this show miraculously produces “record breaking” attendance year after year? Please. Common sense says this isn’t possible. Everyone has down years.

    I think as the attendee you need to decide what is important. What products did you see in the small city sized booths, that you haven’t already been able to read about from CES or ISE? What products did you see that your rep hasn’t or won’t be bringing to your office in the near future? That being said, I prefer to use my time to scour those back rows for the more interesting and less known companies. That’s where the gold nuggets are located. I will see anything the big boys have soon enough..Oh and by the way, does it really matter what they display given it won’t ship for another six months to a year?!

    And one last point. Given the ridiculous costs of attending InfoComm now, if you were to add yet another day how many of those small guys would you lose from the back row because the cost rose yet again? The show floor expense isn’t unheard of, but when you add on all of the extended costs… overpriced furniture and power etc, it gets a bit ridiculous. I’m afraid the added costs would weed out even more of the small back row guys that you are arguing you want to have time to see.

  4. As a manufacturer’s employee, I have been setting up these shows for 17 years. No matter the length of the show, whether three days or three weeks, people will be working frantically the night before the show opens. This year was a little rougher as the setup period was one day shorter.

    However the booths were relatively empty the last day of the show, especially the second half. This trend happens at every trade show. There is a joke, “Even a one day trade show is a day too long.”

    I do think that there is a challenge of more exhibits, demonstration rooms, and classes to see each year so going to four days does make some sense. I will say that the cost of the trade show to duration of the show is not directly linear. If a show costs US$20,000 (purely hypothetical but makes the math easy) to exhibit for a three day show and two setup days, that would make the cost US$400 a day. However if the show goes to four days, the cost does not immediately go to US$24,000 as there are not extra flights or extra Ddrayage/freight fees or setup and tear down labor. So some of the smaller exhibitors would probably still be able to show. They would also probably see more people. So the cost per visitor/contact might go down.

    It is a very interesting discussion with various intertwinings of factors.

    Note: Bradford is employed by Harman and wants to indicate that clearly. Harman is also an underwriter of AVNation. He does recuse himself from discussions to avoid any conflict or confusion when appropriate. He will represent Harman on occasion such as interviews at trade shows. This column is his own opinion and does not intend or attempt to speak on behalf of Harman.

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