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Why Key Suppliers Are Skipping Trade Shows

Some manufacturers and distributors are transferring their marketing money to local events instead of trade shows in 2012 citing better ROI.

Jason Knott · May 24, 2012

In an industry built on products, trade shows have always been king in consumer electronics. They bring lots of potential buyers that can turn into future sales.

So it’s interesting to see some manufacturers opting to downplay their trade show presence or opt out completely in favor of more personal, private events with integrators.

The first evidence of this came at CEDIA Expo 2011 was when former major exhibitors D&M Holdings and AVAD both skipped the event. This year, Extron decided it was not exhibiting at InfoComm or Integrated Systems Europe (ISE). Even more substantiation of the “personalization” trend can be seen with the demise of EHX after an 11-year run, while EH Publishing’s CE Pro 100 Summit is thriving and growing.

2012 appears to be more of the same. Here are takes from AVAD, Digital Projection, D&M Holdings, Extron and Savant about trade show costs, the return on investment and what dealers will see from them in 2012.

Savant: Savant is going to be at CEDIA Expo 2012, but it will not have its own booth. Instead, Savant will have a presence at the Expo on the show floor as the anchor technology in the 50 x 50-foot CEDIA Tech Pavilion that showcases multiroom A/V, control, telephony and energy management. Savant will also conduct eight training classes (four different sessions two times each) and be holding meetings with dealers in one of the 30x60-foot high-performance audio rooms.

“We still feel strongly that CEDIA plays a critical role in leading the industry,” says Savant executive vice president Jim Carroll. “We will be at the CEDIA Expo, but just with a different strategy than a big booth. We support CEDIA, but the trade show was just getting expensive from an ROI standpoint. This presence will give us much bigger bang for the buck.”

Like Extron, Savant is holding its own events. It will have three dealer conferences in 2012: one on Cape Cod (three-day event), and 1.5-day long events in Long Beach, Calif. and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

“These conferences give our engineers a chance to have in-depth conversations with dealers that in some cases result in new products, such as our energy and telephone products.” In all, Savant will see as many as 700 dealers at its three events.

“Today we can [use WebEx] and other ways to communicate with dealers more effectively. It is cheaper and more productive for me to buy plane tickets for a dealers and fly them to New York for a full-day meeting in our Experience Center spend the money on a B2B tradeshow,” Carroll says. “I really look at CEDIA as a fourth dealer conference for us in terms of how we will be using the meeting rooms. I would rather have 100 quality discussions than 4,000, four-minute discussions at a booth.”

Savant is not eschewing all trade shows. It will be at InfoComm with a booth, and Carroll says it had a “phenomenal” ROI from CES where it was involved in the NextGen house. Carroll would not reveal the cost of Savant’s trade show expenditures, but given that the company has in the past hosted The Black Crowes, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Buddy Guy at previous CEDIA Expos, it is likely a heavy price tag.

Extron: The company said it pulled out of InfoComm and ISE to spend the money on more support staff and its own new training facilities at its Anaheim, Calif. headquarter, as well as in Raleigh, N.C., Washington, D.C., London, Paris and Frankfurt for its own Extron Institute.

Extron president Andrew Edwards writes: “At Extron we have concluded that the time and energy put into exhibiting at these short three-day events, can better serve you by being repurposed toward activities that provide direct benefit and support for you, our customers. Specifically, we are focused on the creation of additional Extron support and training facilities both domestically and internationally.”

While noting that Extron still has “a great deal of respect for the InfoComm organization,” he adds, “With our increased facilities and staff, it will make attending an Extron Institute course easier and more convenient. If you’ve been to a class in Anaheim, you know that I make a point of connecting with you here, and the conversations are always more detailed and more candid, which I love.”

  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at

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