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Views from the trade show floors

The recent NAB and ISE shows were each heralded as success stories as the trade show scene gets back up and running across the shared ecosystems of media technology, pro AV, and pro audio. With IBC on the horizon at the end of the summer, we asked a selection of exhibitors, attendees, and industry folk for their perspectives on the return to in-person events in the first of a three-part feature

Attendees await the opening of ISE 2022 at the Fira Barcelona, Gran Via

In-person trade shows are back, and edging towards their traditional capacities. With Future’s teams in the middle of a trade show frenzy creating official show dailies for NAB Show, ISE, and InfoComm, we’ve picked up plenty of conversational feedback from the show floors about the return to large-scale face-to-face events. And that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

To put those conversations into more of an official structure, TVBEurope invited a number of exhibitors, attendees, and industry folk to offer their perspectives on three areas of interest: the general atmosphere of the shows; business targets set/met for each; and whether people’s perspective on the effectiveness of trade shows has changed since the pandemic period.

This last point will be the main point of intrigue, as we assess whether exhibitors and attendees feel that the current large-scale format still presents an effective platform for business generation and retention as we emerge more fully from the restrictions of the last 27 months.

That question will be featured in part-three of the feature on Wednesday, with business targets the topic for tomorrow. Today, we start with the topic everyone was talking about on the show floors: how good it was to be back together again.

In-person trade shows are back, and edging towards their traditional capacities. What shows have you visited recently and what was the atmosphere on the show floors of each? 

James Kirby, senior market analyst, pro audio, Futuresource Consulting
The last trade show we visited was ISE and it was fantastic. We had a team of 15 people out at the show and the whole team was blown away by the atmosphere. There was so much positivity about being back at physical events, and the high attendance was a pleasant surprise.

As far as meetings went it was brilliant. It was just great seeing people again, friends, colleagues, partners and clients, some of which we hadn’t seen in two years or more. Conversations were positive despite all the challenges facing the industry at the moment. For audio especially it’s been a difficult few years, but ISE felt like it marked a real turning point this year, with Q1 having demonstrated significant recovery across the industry. It made a stark contrast to the last European ISE we attended, where everything was heading in the opposite direction and global lockdowns were around the corner.

Paolo Pescatore, technology, media and telecoms analyst
Arguably I’ve been to the biggest trade shows of the year so far, MWC in Barcelona and NAB in Las Vegas. Both events clearly demonstrated the appetite for trade shows with a greater focus on quality than quantity. For sure, they remain must attend events in their respective areas which helps drive awareness and justifies an in-person attendance.

Alison Pavitt, sales and marketing director, Pebble
We attended NAB and despite there being fewer visitors than in previous years there was still a definite buzz about the place! The Media Production & Technology Show was incredibly busy and it was our first time exhibiting there. Everyone was excited to be at the show and the priority for attendees and exhibitors alike was to reconnect.

CABSAT was another well attended show, highlighting the value of meeting face to face. At the time of writing this we are in the throes of the final preparations for Broadcast Asia and we’re excited to be exhibiting at IBC in September!

Nicole Corbin, senior director, Utelogy
Utelogy has visited Enterprise Connect in March, exhibited at ISE in May, and will be exhibiting at InfoComm in June of 2022. We were incredibly pleased and excited by the turnout at ISE in Barcelona this past month. Seeing people face-to-face and being able to demo our products in person versus over a video call is something we value greatly. The atmosphere was energetic, and the turnout was above our expectations. The new location for ISE allowed each exhibitor to be a bit more spread out which meant wider isles for visitors making it easier to navigate from hall to hall. We are anticipating comparable results for InfoComm in June. 

John Wastcoat, SVP alliances and marketing, Zixi
Zixi participated in NAB in Las Vegas and the Media Production and Technology Show in London in the span of the last few weeks. There was palpable excitement for each, and a lot of pent-up desire to meet with vendors, customers and partners in person. At MPTS, there was a quarter-mile line of attendees outside of Olympia London to get in. Everybody was really excited to meet, and then towards the end of the day have a drink together.

Chris Evans, head of pro video, senior market analyst, Futuresource Consulting
In the lead up to NAB there was certainly hesitancy as to how ‘international’ the attendance would be, however as the show approached we found a real build in momentum in terms of meeting bookings as it became clear the show would be going ahead as planned. At the event, the atmosphere was incredibly positive with vendors eager to showcase how their technologies had been applied in innovative scenarios over the past two years amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Although footfall was less than pre-pandemic, across the board we heard exhibitors talk about overall higher quality engagements on their stands as the covid era risks associated with travelling brought out greater purpose and intention from trade show attendees. The new layout to the show floor with a slightly more consolidated footprint but access to newly opened sections of the convention centre also contributed positively to the experience

The NAB show floor, courtesy of Three Media

Craig Bury, CTO, Three Media
In April, Three Media attended the NAB Show in Las Vegas as a visitor. Despite taking the decision some time ago that we would not exhibit at the show due to lack of others exhibiting/attending, we knew from conversations with industry colleagues that they were planning to attend so we made a last minute decision to visit. NAB provided the opportunity to reconnect again and I have to say, it felt good to be walking a show floor again to catch up with friends. The atmosphere at the show was incredibly positive, vibrant and engaging.

Granted, a few of the larger exhibitors were absent this year, and while that was to be expected it did somewhat  diminish the overall value proposition. The lower attendance levels relative to prior years actually enhanced the experience as it was easier to navigate the usually busy aisles as well as spend more quality time with people.

The well-travelled Bubble Agency team at NAB

Laura Cabarcos, senior account director, Bubble Agency
The Bubble Agency team is thrilled to be back on the show floor servicing clients and reconnecting with the industry. So far in 2022, we have attended BSC, NAB, ISE, ANGA COM and the Media Production & Technology Show. 

The atmosphere across all shows has been invigorating. There is a combination of factors that have all contributed to making this return so energising: from the eagerness of all of us to want to reunite again, to exhibitors being determined to showcase their latest innovations and be back to trade shows, through to show organisers wanting everyone to feel welcomed again. It has been a long hiatus, which has given us all time to reflect, but we are glad the shows are back and we look forward to seeing them return to their traditional capacities.

Alexandra Jakins IDS inside sales executive, Densitron
Densitron recently exhibited at NAB Show 2022 showcasing our innovative, vendor agnostic and full flexible control solutions and accompanying control surfaces. The show floor was quite busy, however, less than in previous years, as I have been advised by my colleagues. Attendees who have stopped by the booth showed genuine interest and some great conversations have come out of it. It seemed that people were very happy to reconnect face to face, discuss future collaborations and discover technological innovations. 

Deidre Joubert, head of market development, Telstra Broadcast Services
We recently attended NAB, which was held between April 23rd to 27th at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in Nevada. While attendance at the show didn’t hit pre-pandemic levels, it was still incredibly busy. It was very encouraging to see and attendance at NAB really surpassed our expectations. The atmosphere on the show floor was fantastic. Everyone was enjoying seeing industry friends and colleagues for the first time in a couple of years. But it was also a good feeling to see things returning to normal.

Hans-Juergen Desor, CEO, iWedia
Having celebrated iWedia’s tenth anniversary behind closed doors as a result of the pandemic, as a company we were looking forward to reuniting with the industry and celebrating our successes with our customers and partners. 

So far, we have been present at NAB in Las Vegas and we have had a booth at Convergence India Expo. Reconnecting with the industry was a pending business for all of us following what has been an unprecedented pause in our working patterns and it has been great to see the return being so well received. 

Daniel Haikin, chief marketing officer, Cooke Optics
Cooke has attended BSC, MicroSalon (Paris) and NAB recently. We found huge warmth from our customers to be back socialising and getting hands-on with the product. With the nature of what we do, it really is vital for customers and users to get first-hand experience of products and these exhibitions are really well structured to facilitate that. 

Cees van Versendaal, COO, MwareTV
We exhibited at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Andina Link in Cartagena and NAB in Las Vegas. Each of the shows presented us with the same vibe: positive! It was obvious to all that people were ready and very happy to meet again. It goes without saying that visitor numbers were down for all the events we exhibited at, but the quality of the visitors was higher than in previous years. 2022 brought more C-Suite visitors and the visitors we spoke to on the booths had a clear vision and objectives for what they were trying to achieve.

Dorota Bouskela, senior marcom manager, Ateme
We have been busy lately exhibiting at the NAB Show, AngaCom and CABSAT. All of these had good attendance and exhibitor numbers. The atmosphere on the show floor was full of enthusiasm, energy, and the excitement of meeting in person. There were many engaging conversations with industry partners, customers, and friends. It has been a brilliant return to face-to-face events after so long.  

The Clear-Com team at their NAB 2022 stand

Rachel Archibald, director of marketing, Clear-Com
Clear-Com has been exhibiting at quite a few shows recently, from USITT and cavlo (regional theatre market shows in the US) to NAB and ISE, as well as our first year participating at MPTS in London. We have been impressed with the quality of attendance at shows this year, as well as the enthusiasm from visitors to engage with us in person. Overall, the atmosphere could best be described as ebullient, even if the numbers are still short of pre-Covid figures.

Gergely Vida, CEO, Lightware Visual Engineering
In fall of 2021, we exhibited in the US at InfoComm, which we considered successful. There were fewer participants than in the pre-pandemic period, but the audience was more concentrated and focused. In May this year, we exhibited at ISE with great anticipation, and we believe the event exceeded our expectations. Our booth was constantly busy with visitors from several European countries. As we were optimistic about ISE, we ensured we had a representative from each international office so that the relevant sales staff could talk to the visitors. We are very pleased to have been brave with investing in this year’s ISE, not only because several of our existing business partners visited us, but we have met with a number of new companies and hopefully start a thriving relationship.

Martin Mulligan, SVP sales and operations, PHABRIX
PHABRIX recently exhibited at NAB 2022 in Las Vegas, MPTS 2022 in London, and CABSAT 2022 in Dubai. Attendees at each show visited with enthusiasm. It was great to see industry colleagues face-to-face for the first time in two years. Whilst the number of attendees was down at each show, those attending were there for good reasons, making each event a pleasure to attend.

Georgiana Verdonk-Sim, director, global marketing, Caton Technology
Caton Technology have not yet exhibited at a trade show this year, but we have attended a number of shows including NAB in Las Vegas and the Media Production & Technology Show in London. So far, we’ve been very impressed with the number of exhibitors and attendees at the shows. Like most, we knew that attendance figures were going to be down on previous years, but it didn’t affect our show experience. With less footfall on the show floor, especially at the larger NAB venue, it allowed us to move more freely and we had much more quality time to speak with other vendors and industry acquaintances we’d not seen in over two years.

Iron Mountain Entertainment Services at London’s MPTS

Margaret Travis, global head of marketing and communications, Iron Mountain Entertainment Services
Iron Mountain Entertainment Services had a booth at the Media Production Show in London (MPTS). Our team members have attended this show every year since it opened and have always found it a really rich source of client conversations and to identify prospects. This year it served as a great opportunity for us to reunite with the industry after a two-year hiatus and showcase our latest company news. All we can say is that we were thrilled to have the shows back. In the case of MPTS specifically, the first day just came to show how excited everyone was to be back, there were queues to get in, our stand was busy all the time and you could just feel the energy in the room all across. 

In addition, there is a feeling that this year’s shows are serving a twofold purpose. It’s not just about meeting customers, old and new, but also as an event to look forward to in order to bond further with your own team, whether that is because the teams are working on a hybrid model of working in the office only a few days or for teams operating across different countries. 

Dan Pike chief product officer, Covatic
Covatic recently undertook a major new US product launch with NAB in Vegas providing the perfect launchpad. The show gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our product, A-Type, face-to face, in person, for the first time at scale. A-Type helps advertisers and publishers understand and reach audiences but in a way that maintains user privacy. And US broadcasters were highly receptive. Data privacy is front of mind and broadcasters are looking for innovative ways to retain and grow their bottom line, while complying with an evolving regulatory environment. 

Main (homepage) image courtesy of Sander Ruijg.