IBC: The civilized show

When people ask me about IBC, I often tell them that I find IBC to be a more civilized convention. Unlike the rat race-paced NAB, IBC affords attendees and exhibitors alike a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Whether it's the wide aisles that can be maneuvered without reminding you of a crowded subway to the halls arranged by theme instead of NAB's random approach, IBC is just a more socially pleasant show to attend. While I'd agree that the ambiance of Amsterdam can't be compared with Las Vegas, unfortunately, this year, there seemed to be several more reasons to compare IBC with NAB.

First, exhibitors always complain. That's nothing new. And they always complain about two things: exhibition expenses and attendance. It doesn't matter where the show is held. In this case, however, there were a couple of cost items that need to be mentioned.

As in Montreux with the Symposium, Amsterdam hotels have figured out that IBC is the best time to raise room rates. Now, I'm not claiming that entire new rate cards are used on IBC visitors, but one certainly could not find a main line hotel offering any discount. Some hotels blamed it on the flower convention. That's a convenient excuse, if you ask me. If the city was so crowded because of two conventions, then why didn't taxis seem to be in short supply as in other years?

Second, the implementation of the euro was clearly seen as the perfect opportunity to add about 15 percent onto everything from rooms to cabs to food. Also, I found taxi drivers' new tactic of rounding up to the nearest convenient whole euro an interesting scam. If your fare was C13.60, the fare suddenly became C14.00, or even C15.00 as the cab driver claimed he couldn't find the correct change. Even Las Vegas taxi drivers couldn't get away with that.

Third, show attendance was down from two years ago. It's not fair to compare show attendance this year against last year for obvious reasons. Official show figures indicate 40,436 at midday Tuesday. That compares to about 45,000 two years ago.

Exhibitors I talked to were quite pleased with attendance, and I didn't hear many complaints about numbers. Besides, if an exhibitor is honest, he'll tell you that it isn't quantity but quality. No one wants attendees taking up staff time if they aren't qualified buyers. It's better to have 10 interested, qualified buyers than 100 tire kickers.

Finally, there is always a more leisurely approach to business at IBC. That's not to say the show isn't about business, but there isn't the panic seen at NAB. And, as I mentioned in one of my presentations, it's the only broadcast show where you can enjoy a beer (even if it's not cold) with your favorite vendor.

So, as I slowly grind through the stacks of mail, press releases and other unfinished tasks that stacked up while I was at IBC, you won't find me complaining. The IBC show will always have advantages over most other conventions. Besides, when was the last time you could take a canal taxi to work in the morning? Even Las Vegas can't top that.

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