Last week, Commercial Integrator’s editor-at-large Craig MacCormack hosted a webinar aimed at helping InfoComm 2017 attendees maximize their return on investment.
The session featured InfoComm’s very own director of expositions content Rachel Bradshaw, along with Alan Brawn and Jonathan Brawn of Brawn Consulting. Alan has over 30 years of experience attending the massive trade show.
During the presentation, our experts fielded questions from those who watched online. Here are some of the answers which shed light on how InfoComm comes together and how attendees can best navigate the five-day frenzy.
Q: Rachel, how do you balance the need for planning InfoComm with booking relevant content?
R: It’s a completely terrifying high-wire act. We’re already planning for 2018, and we’ll launching our call for presenters when we launch the 2018 show site at the end of the month.
We leave some room in the program to respond to emerging changes in the industry. When you are receptive to changes like that, you have to deal with the fallout of making those changes. But we exist for the industry, and if we’re not prepared to adjust to the things going on in it, we’re not doing our jobs.
Q: Jonathan, when you first step on the show floor your strategy is to do a quick walk-through of everything. How do you make sense of a 1000+ exhibitors and hone-in on the most important ones for your needs?
J: The reason we do the quick walk-through is to get over the shock-and-awe. If you’re coming to your first InfoComm, seeing the great big exhibitors in the front, you can get overwhelmed. It helps me take a look at who has an appealing presence. Everyone is going to claim to be a ‘special snowflake,’ that’s what we call marketing.
But doing the walkthrough allows me to compare what I see to what I had in my pre-show planning notes. Was there somebody that I missed? Was there somebody I planned to visit, but walked by their booth and said, ‘eh, maybe not?’
Having the self-control to get through it all and figure out where my plans meet what I see helps immensely.
A: I’d like to add that it is important to go through the small booths. You never know who might have a solution! When I walk the show floor, I do two things:
- Look at a booth that is visually appealing
- Look at the name and take an assessment of what tech they represent
I make a mental note while making sure these people may or may not have something I need in future applications.
Q: Alan, I think the natural tendency for a first-timer is to focus on the large booths. Why is it important to pay nearly as much attention to the smaller booths?
A: Think about what the AV industry is all about: we are systems integrators. We are not purveyors of box sales.
A system requires cables, connectors, HDbaseT, Video-over-IP, accessories, remotes. All of these things separate from the “oooh, shiny!” should be important to us. When you create an AV design, it is easy to pick a beautiful projector. But that’s not what gives you trouble. It’s distribution amps, switchers, etc. and when you visit the smaller booths, it’s the difference between ordering from Amazon and taking the time to find a competent manufacturer of these important items.
Q: Rachel, the training opportunities have turned InfoComm into a longer show. What do you think about making the show a 4-day or longer event?
R: We’ll keep our eyes on the traffic and how much time people are spending on the show floor and when people are ready to go to a four-day show, we’ll go there.
Forget about hardware, cables and fans, this ‘sign’ can be mounted like wallpaper.
Q: Jonathan, one of the issues we encounter at trade shows: items which look great but won’t ship for at least six months. How important is it to you when you see “vaporware,” or are you patient when something is worth the wait?
J: I find that too much in technology has become an escalating arms race. That’s the nature of manufacturing, but too often, we as users are asked to beta-test products before they’re ready. I want a manufacturer to take their time that we’re not going to go through tons of difficulties.
But I do appreciate a manufacturer’s honesty when they say upfront, “this is great and will ship on this date.”
That helps me when I’m designing systems and keeping aware of the trends in technology. If somebody won’t tell you when a product will ship, that should be a red flag.