The Visualist Blog

Are trade shows worth all the money?

I have to say, I was quite surprised to learn Extron has pulled the plug on their booth at both InfoCommthis year. InfoComm is the largest pro A/V trade show in the world. It has around 900 exhibitors, more than 30,000 attendees and is covered by about 400 journalists. Extron is one of the biggest players in the A/V game (head scratching). I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I think this can be viewed as a harbinger of things to come for the A/V industry, so here are my thoughts.

InfoComm is on the calendar of every A/V professional out there. Why would Extron ditch the main trade show for an industry it helped to build?  Trade shows are an incredible expense to many organizations, but they are a great place to strengthen relationships with customers, and also maintain your relevance and credibility in the industry. Press releases, cleverly-timed tweets, corporate Facebook (who really looks at those?) and blogs are efficient, but there is still a lot of power in old-fashioned face-to-face marketing.

Extron is claiming the money will be better spent on customer visit centers, enhanced support, etc. But you have to wonder, is A/V beginning to transform itself into a more rapidly moving, software-driven marketplace?  Certainly, you won’t find most of the major players in interactive software spending millions of dollars on a trade show floor (not since SIGGRAPH in the glory days of the 90s). I suspect InfoComm (and other traditionally hardware-centric venues) may become more diverse, more energetic, more innovative and less ruled by giant hardware companies.  In short, the major A/V trade shows will begin to reflect real changes in the market as software companies play a bigger role in media.  Media sharing, collaboration, networking, display management software and human-computer interaction are beginning to transform the way we see, use and communicate with displays.

With that being said, as a contributing member of InfoComm and an exhibitor for the last seven years, you can probably sense that I’m fine with Extron opting out of the show this year. It will give the less-known (but must-see) companies more bang for their buck. Hey, this will give attendees the chance to spend more time at the Mersive booth!

Please don’t interpret my comments to mean that I’m afraid for the future of InfoComm just because Extron isn’t attending the show. This is a healthy and much needed shift, and the A/V industry is an ever-changing, growing and booming industry. InfoComm does a lot for the industry, and it will continue to do so.   I can’t imagine too many attendees will really miss the well-attended Extron party. After all, there are plenty of other things to do in Vegas.  See you at the show!

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