Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trade Show? Yes Trade Show? No

The Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) had industry members talking this time one year ago when it confirmed the addition of a second trade show, which would take place in April, and cater to architects, designers, builders, IT/security managers, and other professional trades. (CEDIA's "regular" show takes place every year in early September, and is targeted to custom A/V integrators). Now, the association says that it's nixing the second show, due to "market conditions" and "member feedback", and continuing with a more intimate round-table forum that helps unite architects, builders, and interior designers with custom A/V professionals.

This move isn't surprising. It's no secret that, with every trade show comes huge costs, both in terms of money and time. Not only does a company have to budget for flights, hotels, and food for every employee that's sent down to the show, they also have to give up valuable in-office/in-store time. Trade shows certainly serve an important role, in terms of introducing and demonstrating new products and technologies, and educating installers and salespersons. But with regional training, and smaller, more intimate dealer events that manufacturers and distributors hold throughout the year, how many trade shows can one company factor (and justify) into its schedule?

As it is, many custom A/V companies I've spoken to are finding it difficult to justify attending both CEDIA, a show specifically tailored to the custom A/V market; and CES, the largest consumer electronics show of the year. Some have informed me that they've opted out of participating in CES simply because its scope is so broad that there's little point. Although having a presence at the show helps boost a company's profile, they end up seeing the same dealers and partners that they met with a few months earlier at CEDIA.

On the other side of the coin, I've had others tell me that they will continue to participate in both shows simply because CES is the largest technology show, obviously attracting a lot of media attention; and often serves as a platform for the biggest product launches of the year. Of course, as custom A/V becomes more and more a part of the "regular" family home theatre set-up, companies might find themselves shifting back toward CES; or, on the flip side, CEDIA might find itself expanding floor space more and more to companies involved in things like home networking, appliances, and computers.

With so much perceived concern over even just these two existing shows, it's no surprise that integrators drew the line at another CEDIA. Why not extend the September CEDIA to include a day for architects and builders to show their faces? From a media perspective, just one CEDIA is also a good thing. There's only so much floor-space one's mind (and feet!) can cover in a year!

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