To show or not to show

The editor discusses why both attendees and exhibitors should question the reasons for going to a trade show
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Occasionally, a manufacturer decides not to exhibit at a major international trade show. This year, Snell & Wilcox has decided not to exhibit at IBC. This is not the first time a major vendor has not attended IBC. One year, Avid didn't come, but it returned the following year. Sony didn't fully support the early IBC shows, instead having a smaller booth staffed with local distributors. Despite predictions, neither company went out of business.

At one time, there were two European shows appearing on alternating years: IBC and Montreux. Some manufacturers supported one rather than the other, and at times there was much acrimony between the organizers and exhibitors. Now that there is just one international broadcast show in Europe, many attendees expect vendors to exhibit every year. And when a key player decides not to attend a show, this renews the debate about the value of trade shows.

As a storefront for a company, a large tradeshow is an expensive way to collect sales leads. There are alternatives, including local or regional events and road shows, which can be carried out on a smaller scale. Each company has to decide what is the best way to reach its customers, and it may be that the expensive booth at the big international event is not in its, or its customers', best interests.

Additionally, staff at broadcast and post facilities often complain that only the executives are allowed to attend NAB and IBC. With a smaller regional exhibition, these staff members are more likely to be allowed to attend.

There is general agreement that the big shows are a great opportunity to catch up with old friends. Many engineers also find that the associated conferences provide a good introduction to emerging technologies and often provide a forum for discussions about which direction technology may take.

Finally, an international show offers wider opportunities to network than do smaller events and gives attendees a wider perspective to different business cultures around the world.

Even so, it might even be a good thing for both attendee and exhibitor to at least question the reasons for going in the first place. After all, “we've always gone” and “what would people think if we didn't exhibit” may not justify the financial cost. The bottom line is that every vendor has a finite budget, and only it can determine how to best spend it on marketing the company and its products.

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