Perhaps Less Really Is More, After All
Jan 1, 2002 12:00 PM, NATHANIEL HECHT
THE AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY CONVENTION TOOK PLACE IN New York City at the Javitz Center from November 30 through December 3, 2001, postponed from its regularly scheduled date due to the events of September 11. There was so much speculation during the 2-month period between the show's original dates and its actual occurrence that it was difficult to discern the facts from the fiction.
Many manufacturers decided to cut their losses and drop out of the show, some citing the proximity of the show to NAMM as a reason. Others suffered from the end-of-year budget crunch that fell upon them due to the slowing of the economy and the deleterious effects of September 11. There were some manufacturers who tried to switch their focus to the LDI convention instead, hoping to get exposure for their new products there. As it turned out, the AES show floor was indeed much smaller than originally planned, but this fact did not in any way deter from the excellent experiences of those that chose to exhibit at and attend the show.
In fact, AES 2001 will be remembered by most as a huge success. Traffic was brisk according to the many exhibitors I spoke with at the show, evidence that attendees did not stay away as was previously feared. The show floor was crowded, and the majority of the manufacturers I spoke to were quite busy, even on days that have traditionally been considered quiet. There was no shortage of innovative technology in all segments, and the overall feeling of the show was a throwback to the shows of many years ago when things were smaller and a bit more intimate.
All of this indicates a pretty clear trend: As our industry trade shows grow larger and larger — demonstrating the growth and success of the industry — we nevertheless lose something along the way, namely the intimacy and depth of connection that only happens with the accessibility of a smaller show. It would indeed be nice if we could have our cake and eat it, too, staying small in our exhibits as we grow larger as a professional community, not unlike what the NSCA has been able to achieve.
In this age of diminishing customer service, with companies slashing their budgets by providing Web service instead of personal service, we should look at the success of the 2001 AES show as a great example of what can be achieved. I would not be surprised to see exhibitors who had previously erected stands looking like small cities or fortresses to trade their ivory towers for the smaller and more intimate pavilions that were so successful at this past AES show. The cost savings alone will be a good incentive. And who knows? Maybe we attendees will actually be able to see the row numbers well enough to locate all the booths we are trying to visit.