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Are there just too many trade shows?

by Chris Newbould on Jun 5, 2012

Chris Newbould
Chris Newbould

So that’s another NAB out of the way, and congratulations to everyone that made it through in one piece - we hope you had a succesful show.

Of course, now there’s barely any breathing space before many of those who have just returned from the mammoth journey to Las Vegas before they’ll be jetting off to Singapore, with Broadcast Asia just around the corner in June.

I always find myself wondering after these events just how the manufacturers and suppliers we work with ever actually find time to research, develop, or even manufacture new products, and how the service providers and suppliers manage to sell any products, integrate or design any projects.

It seems that CABSAT is barely out of the way than NAB is on our doorstep, then Broadcast Asia, and on returning from that many minds will already be turning to this year’s IBC in Amsterdam.

That, of course, is only the four biggest trade shows for the region. Factor in the existence of the various IPTV and social media shows, mobile telecoms, second screen, photography and broadcast shows and conferences, the likes of PALME and BVE, the many consumer electronics shows such as CES and GITEX that cross over with the businesses of many of our leading stakeholders, and the calender is getting seriously full.

Next, bear in mind that many of the Middle Eastern Arms of international companies are also variously responsible for operations in Africa, India, Asia and even the CIS and add a whole raft of potential must attend events in those regions and you can’t help wondering if any of the leading lights at some of our major companies have even set foot in their office in the past year or so.

Of course, it’s great that even in times of continuing worldwide economic challenges the industry is still going strong and can support so many successful events, but I do begin to wonder - is it just too many?

How do you find the trade show merry-go-round? Are they a valuable source of business where deals get done, contracts signed and money made?

Perhaps they’re not quite that vital, but you’d at least say they’re an essential opportunity to keep in touch with the leading figures, companies, technology, developments and ideas in the sector?

Perhaps they’re not even that vital - can you do all the networking, learning and gadget-spotting you need at the two big international shows in April and September, plus the big regional one at CABSAT?

Do the various other shows around the globe serve mainly as an irritating distraction from getting on with the important business - especially when the shows often clash too, such as this year’s CABSAT and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Granted the two areas have enough space between them to not be a major clash for everyone, but I can think of at least a couple of organisations with a major presence in the region that were required to spread their limited forces over the two, and this is surely likely to become more common as social media and the growth of ‘second screen’ technology bring mobile telecoms and content producers and consumers ever closer.

Of course, I’m just metaphorically thinking aloud here. Do we perhaps need to scrap the plethora of competing events and start from scratch with three or four huge events that will cater for everyone’s needs? Would this be unthinkable, if only from the point of view of the damage to the events promotion and related industries it would entail? Or do we desperately need to attend as many events as possible to make sure our business has the maximum visibility, and our air miles the maximum traction?

I’m not convinced I have the answer myself, but I’d love to hear what you think.

Chris Newbould is editor of Digital Studio magazine at ITP Business Publishing.


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