As TMC Publisher Rich Tehrani was waiting for his flight at JFK to head to the west coast for the annual fall IT Expo, he and I exchanged a series of emails about this year’s event in Los Angeles which is shaping to be one of the best IT Expo’s ever in recent years.
Rich, who has to be the only guy in Voice Communications who travels more than me, tossed some interesting news nuggets my way. I’m going to emphasize some key points:
1. On the show, our exhibit hall numbers are now ahead of last year – these are the buyers coming to find solutions. Frankly I think this is amazing as our show took place last year the week of the Lehman collapse meaning the registration database did not operate in an environment where the word depression was thrown around.
2. In addition, we learned in Miami that people who take the time to register these days – tend to come to the show (assuming they haven’t been laid off). Regarding the “industry” there are always people who have cut budgets, etc but my sense is the industry is coming in good numbers based on the large number of people reaching out to me. Many in the industry passed on Miami as well and then mentioned later they regretted the decision.
3. Interestingly some people who didn’t ever come to past ITEXPO are now drawn by another collocated event.
4. BTW where the show is light is on paid conferees (for obvious reasons) but these people often wait to for the last second to pay us making it tough to predict actual numbers.
5. Also, the hotel sold out our room block well over a month ago and this is the best indicator of attendance I have seen in the past. Especially in an economy where you don’t need to worry about finding cheap hotel rooms at the last second.
6. I feel we have saturated the news-stream with content about the show – we even added two new full-time editors to cover news related to the industry and event to ensure you can’t use a computer without hearing about ITEXPO, 4GWE, etc.
7. We launched a number of collocated events with Jon Arnold, Carl Ford and others – the numbers show people are registering for these collocated events but new events can always use some TLC.
Here's my take--
1. Selling and buying is taking priority over "networking" and "business development".
2. Companies that are allowing executives to travel are doing so to have them either sell or buy.
3. Networking-when Rich says paid conference attendance is down this means there are less "extra bodies" in the audience, but those that are there are looking to a) learn, b) get the attention of those speaking c) will have a better chance of making contact with those they need to be working with
4) Importance of good media relations-extra writers means more news is coming at TMC every day. Getting them the news the right way so they can report on it is key.
5) The hotel room block being full-people thought they were getting a good deal and locked in. This tells me that people want to network at the hotel and also that I need to teach a course in trade show travel shopping as it seems the travel desks and agencies are buying into early offers, that lock you in on price. Case in point. Initially I took a higher, non-locked in rate and then watched the prices fall then rebooked at the lower rate. My rate which I rebooked at a much better grade hotel near by dropped by over 35% this week. I an now paying under $175 a night for a room that just four months ago was priced at nearly $300.00 a night. In a buyers market this is how to book a room for large trade shows. Get the better hotel, at the same or better price.
6) I've said for years that there are too many shows that attract an overlapping audience in an audience sector that is converging. What Rich has done with Carl Ford on 4G, Jon Arnold on Smart Grids and maintaining his event's upward trajectory was done by broadening his reach and reduced the need for event attendance frequency. In media terms this means more people will be at "fewer" events but by increasing reach Tehrani and team has reduced the total cost of overhead by spreading the costs across more sectors and increased revenue. At the same time, instead of traveling to three shows, those who would have now only travel once. This is far more efficient for all.
Let's give Rich and his crew some well deserved credit. After the VON fiasco where the investors hijacked the company away from the leadership, leaving many without work, companies without a key bi-annual event and more, it was Rich who stepped up and figured out how to retool his own series of events with the needs of the telecom industry as his guiding principal. What's more Rich quickly mended fences with ex Pulver Media execs Carl Ford and Scott Kargman, as well as hiring on some ex Pulverites to make his shows better and putting on more depth inside his sales organization. Lastly, instead of trying to keep the print publications as their primary mode of publishing, Rich and his crew moved to a highly energized online model with niche after niche being filled with information, making the never ending number of TMC web sites a consolidated group of highly charged, search engine friendly new repositories that deliver stories to a thirsty audience.
In an era where Telephony Magazine just laid off and consolidated, following on the heels of what has already happened elsewhere, and when one hears how much trouble SuperComm is facing, it clearly appears after my exchange with Rich that he and his team are making the right moves to be around for the good of the industry.
So to him, I say Thanks!