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What Was Different About InfoComm This Year, And What Changes Will AVIXA Make? Labuskes Explains

The breakdown of InfoComm 2019 attendees shows more first-timers and end users than ever. How will that affect AVIXA’s plans for InfoComm 2020 and beyond?

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The dust is just starting to settle inside the Orange County Convention Center after a record-breaking InfoComm 2019 saw more registered attendees than ever [44,129], and a sharp increase in first-time InfoComm attendees and international guests at the show.

How do those factors affect what AVIXA will do to make InfoComm 2020 in Las Vegas next June even better for all involved?

Some key goals of every InfoComm show—information, inspiration and new relationships—remain the same, but how they get there must change every year, says AVIXA CEO David Labuskes. That’s evident when this year’s crowd included about 40 percent newcomers and about 20 percent of attendees from outside the U.S.

“I want [attendees] to get information obviously,” he says. “I want them to learn from our exhibitors, I want them to attend classes, I want them to go to conferences.

“But, maybe more than information, I want them to be inspired. If every single one of the people who comes here leaves with an idea that they didn’t have before—not necessarily an idea from a new product, but a new way of solving one of their clients’ problems—then the show was successful,” says Labuskes.

That inspiration helps not only those who walk the trade show floor and attend classes and go to the conferences during InfoComm week, but also manufacturers who don’t get much of a chance to see anything outside of their own company’s booth during the show.

“Obviously, our exhibitors want to meet people who are doing exciting projects and every word I have from them is that they’re getting that,” says Labuskes. “The last thing [I want] is [for InfoComm attendees] to make a new friend or meet a new colleague and learn from them for the next 360 days before you come back to InfoComm in Vegas next year.”

How InfoComm Shows Are Changing

About one-third of InfoComm 2019 registered attendees were end users, or as Labuskes calls them, enterprise decision-makers. He says it’s important for that segment of the AV channel to be at the trade show and others like it around the world.

“Whatever enterprise they’re in—whether that’s a house of worship, a corporate facility or a hotel—those people are coming here for the exact same reasons I want everybody to be here,” says Labuskes. “I want them to be informed, I want them to be inspired and I want them to understand the strategic value of AV and how they can meet their core strategic needs with the proper execution of experience.

“Every business out there is focusing on the experiences they create, whether it’s for their customers in a retail establishment, their guests in a hotel, fans in a stadium or employees in the workplace. We need to engage with people and our industry is at the core of that. If you’re not directly in our industry, you won’t necessarily know that. This is a place where that is so much more evident than anywhere else.

Balancing the Familiar with Innovation

Longtime InfoComm show attendees have seen changes—both subtle and more blatant—to the way the event is presented every June, whether it’s in Orlando like this year or Las Vegas like in 2018 and 2020. While some things remain constant, change and evolution is necessary, says Labuskes,

“Any trade show that’s going to retain its relevance has to be a microcosm and reflection of the industry,” he says. “I’d be surprised to know of any industry that’s not changing today.

“When we look at an industry that’s as dynamic as the audiovisual industry and all of the new players that come into the industry as well as the existing players, the new applications that can be solved with AV technology, it’s like your favorite restaurant.

“You go to your favorite restaurant because you have a favorite dish there or you have a favorite server there or a favorite table, but that restaurant probably has specials on a fairly regular basis so they don’t have the same menu day in and day out. It’s the marriage of the known and the new, the opportunity for innovation and inspiration,” says Labuskes.

Airport Kiosks, Food Stations, & What’s Next

This year, AVIXA added registration stations in several Orlando-area hotels and inside Orlando International Airport to allow attendees to get their badges without waiting in long lines at the Orange County Convention Center.

Labuskes calls it a “flat forehead idea” because it makes you smack your forehead hard for not thinking of it sooner. The Park—a recreation area with food truck-style dining options and areas to relax is another example of making the overall experience better for attendees, he says.

“We’re constantly looking at how we can improve the experience we’re delivering, and a big part of that is the attendee experience,” says Labuskes. “A show is a physical manifestation of the community of the industry.

“If all of those people don’t walk away saying, ‘I can’t wait to come back,’ we may not have a problem today, but we will ultimately have a problem,” he says.

AVIXA sends surveys after every trade show to attendees and exhibitors, asking them questions that fall into two major categories: “What was most important to you?” and “How did we do on that?”

“If something is of very little importance and we nailed it, that doesn’t really count as success,” says Labuskes. “What counts as success is that which was most important to you and we nailed that.”

Typically, attendees are focused most on seeing new products, meeting new people and being inspired with new ideas. Exhibitors typically want increased brand presence, excitement about their brand and leads, says Labuskes.

“There’s not a lot of magic in that,” he says. “All industries are getting a lot more sophisticated about analyzing that data. Exhibitors are getting better and better and better at realizing what value they receive from a show. We’re fortunate to have a show that our exhibitors continue to commit to.”

Later this week: How AVIXA CEO David Labuskes spends his time at InfoComm shows.

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