Acquisition Global Viewpoint – September 2020

Tradeshows - The New Format

NAB2021 has announced their convention will take place in October, placing it before the rescheduled IBC 2021 - now we have two international exhibitions taking place within months of each other. So, what does this mean for vendors and visitors? Are we seeing the dawn of a new format of tradeshow?

Although technically possible, the thought of shipping crates of metal from Amsterdam to Las Vegas sounds to me like a logistical nightmare. There’s little chance to do any running repairs to the kit and software upgrades will be even more of a challenge.

But if I’m right, and we are seeing the dawn of the new format tradeshow then vendors will not be required to ship their metal at all. To really understand how tradeshows will continue, we need to understand and ask the question; what challenges do they overcome?

There is a view that says when making purchases we want to see the eyes of the people we’re buying from. The massive ramping up of internet sales in recent months certainly contradicts this as we’re purchasing our goods from faceless websites. However, these tend to be commodity goods and sticking with brand names helps us with our decision making.

Would we buy a sound console or production switcher from a website? I wouldn’t, but this is to a lager extent due to the number of people involved in the procurement process. We need to make sure the people operating the kit are happy with its performance and feel, the engineers supporting it need to be confident of its interoperability, and the buying department need to make sure the correct SLAs are in place.

On the few occasions I have bought production switchers I’ve always visited the vendor on their booth at either IBC or NAB. The strange thing is, I rarely evaluated the equipment on the show floor. Instead I was more interested in speaking to the technical experts about the specific changes I needed making for the particular broadcasters’ workflow I was involved with at the time.

It’s unlikely that visitors will attend both NAB and IBC. But the more interesting question is how many vendors will attend both? And how much kit will they take with them?

My view is that the majority of visitors will only attend one of the shows resulting in a natural geographical divide in the international broadcast community. Therefore, vendors will have to attend both shows otherwise they run the risk of missing out on half of their audience. But should they take all their kit and is it worth even trying?

I think this is an opportunity for vendors to be bold and not ship crates of equipment around the world. Broadcasting has reached maturity and entered a new era; we can safely assume kit works reliably and we don’t need “Hello Mom” equipment on booths to prove it exists.

We definitely need networking events and a place for vendors, broadcasters, technologists and innovators to mix and exchange ideas. Tradeshows, albeit in a reduced and new format, still have an influence in this.

I believe buyers, influencers and broadcast technologists who are responsible for making things work, want to look into the eyes of the technical experts to help them understand which vendors can partner with them and help deliver their broadcast facilities. But we don’t have to wait twelve months for the next tradeshow to do this.