When the coronavirus pandemic hit two years ago, among the first business casualties of the worldwide shutdowns was trade shows. But as COVID-19 begins to retreat in most parts of the world in the first months of 2022, businesses are evaluating the safety of gathering together again with colleagues, with most determining that the risks are low enough to return to a sense of normalcy.
Such thinking is based on the notion that with safety protocols and two years of social distancing experience under their belts, attendees and exhibitors alike can keep the risks of the pandemic low enough to ensure everyone’s safety.
NAB Show, which takes place April 23-27 is one of the most prominent shows coming back to the Las Vegas and TV Tech recently spoke with several exhibitors about their plans to return after three years.
Sony, for example, has adapted well to the changes that have taken place in the past two years, and Theresa Alesso, president of Sony Imaging Products and Solutions Americas of Sony, is eager to bring those changes to the show floor.
“We're really excited to come back face to face and see our customers and walk through some of the technologies with them,” Alesso said. “It also gives us an opportunity to really come out with a 'new face' of Sony, if you will, in the evolution of our business. Our ‘Imaging Product Solutions of Americas [division]’ is comprised of everything from our alpha still imaging line to our cloud-based and IP workflows and the technology offerings that we have ‘from soup to nuts’ is like no other.”
All the virtual events in the world cannot replace the impact of face to face meetings. John Studdert, vice president of Media Solutions for Sony Electronics uses these meetings at the show to gather feedback from customers to evaluate current products and plan for future product offers.
“What's most important to us is the opportunity to sit down with our customers, show them our new technology and have them share with us directionally where they're going,” he said. “It's usually at NAB that we start that collaboration of aligning what we're bringing to market with what they need, and very often it's the voice of the customer that goes back into our products that helps us get to where they’re going.”
While many attendees may still be hesitant to engage with colleagues face to face, Alesso stressed that the safety of both exhibitors and customers is top of mind.
“The overall health and safety of our people and our customers is of utmost concern,” she said. “So we took a more ‘strategic approach’ to our booth from a standpoint of 'people flow.' We’re making sure we don't have ‘bottleneck stations’ and really verifying the proper layout to allow for the best opportunity to provide some distancing and still give people access to hands-on technology.”
Jeff Moore, executive vice-President and CMO at Ross Video says his company is also eager to get back to the show because that’s where their customers will be.
“Even though we're in constant communication with clients, there are quite a few of them that plan to be at the show,” he said. “Our sales team is quite excited about actually getting some face time with folks in Vegas and even though we believe that traffic will be lower than would have been three or four years ago, we've got to start somewhere, right?”
As the pandemic has forced media companies to move to remote production, Moore says Ross was right there with them, adapting and developing solutions to help them make the transition.
“We got a lot of interest from customers who wanted to figure out how to use our technology remotely, and we spent quite a bit of time and energy on describing how those solutions work, and also developing new technology to allow more remote productions and cloud productions,” Moore said. “So things are evolving as they always do with technology, and from a Ross perspective, part of what we do is we help customers navigate technological transitions.”
Moore says Ross’s booth will be smaller than in the past, “focused mainly on meeting spaces, presentation spaces and meeting rooms,” adding that he likes how the show has rearranged the exhibit spaces to focus more on solutions.
“It looks like things are closer together,” he said. “I think it'll actually improve the flow and it'll be easier for people to get around.”
Grass Valley CMO Neil Maycock said the company’s positive experience with a few smaller events that took place last year demonstrated there continues to be a strong appetite for in-person events among their customers.
“Naturally, we’re expecting the dynamic of the show to be different from before, and we’re changing the way we engage with our customers accordingly,” he said. “This year we’ll have less emphasis on products and solutions on our booth and will have a greater focus on networking and thought-leadership activities such as the NAB Show Conference.”
Maycock adds that despite the changing characteristics of the pandemic, they will be prepared when the show opens.
“Based on current trends we’re expecting an in-person event in April to be safe, but of course, we’ll closely monitor the wider situation and regional guidance,” he said. “The safety of our staff and customers will always be paramount. In-person events give you a huge opportunity to strengthen key relationships and build new ones, so we’re going to make the most of that at NAB this year.”
Sony’s Alesso said that despite the hurdles that have come with bringing such an important industry event back after three years, they appreciate the efforts NAB has taken to ensure a smooth-running, safe and productive show.
“NAB has been a great partner of ours,” she said. “I think they've been very responsible with how they're looking at the show and we fully support their efforts.”
For more information and registration, visit nabshow.com.
Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.
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