For the first time ever, CEDIA’s Technology & Business Summits slated for the Spring 2019 will have an international presence with an event in Toronto.
That is just one new element being added to the successful CEDIA Tech Summits for 2019, which still have the same core concept, with local reps and distributors uniting for a single-day event packed with education and products. The Summits continue to have a dealer-friendly schedule designed to enable integrators to get the full impact of the event in just half a day.
Each Tech Summit begins with an 8 a.m. keynote, followed by two one-hour-and-15-minute educational sessions starting at 9:30 a.m. The table-top exhibits open at 10 a.m. with a lunch served at 12:30 p.m. on the display floor. There is a different set of educational sessions in the afternoon from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
“Our events are over by about 3:30 p.m. or 3:45 p.m.,” says Mark Cichowski, CEO of Clarity-AV International. A long-time independent rep, Cichowski is the creator of the Tech Summits, which were acquired by CEDIA in April 2018.
“That timeframe gives the integrators a chance to wrap up their day, maybe go see a client on the way back to the office, or answer a few phone calls, but still get a really full day of education and exposure in a one-on-one environment with the sponsors.”
Tom Darling, senior vice president, education and certification at CEDIA, says practicality is the key to the success of the Tech Summits. “The seven spring events are designed to be practical… to help dealers with ideas they can implement in their business the very next day. The events are close to home. There are no travel costs and more importantly there is minimal time spent away from your business.”
In all, CEDIA has seven scheduled Tech Summits for the spring of 2019, with more coming in the fall:
- March 12 — Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
- March 14 – Orlando
- April 23 – Irvine, Calif.
- April 25 – Los Angeles
- May 9 – Toronto
- May 21 – Houston
- May 23 – Dallas
The schedule is also designed to be convenient for the sponsors. The multi-city Florida, Southern California and Texas Summits are staggered with one day in between so vendors can pack up, get to the next city, and set up with time to spare.
Toronto Tech Summit Debut
“I am really excited about the new event in Toronto, Canada. Expanding into that market is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while,” comments Cichowski.
“I spoke with some of the distributors and the manufacturers, and they thought it was a great idea. They were especially excited because there’s really not a local/regional event with education in Canada at all. A lot of Canadian integrators come down for the CEDIA Expo, of course, but there really are no collaborative local educational events there of this scope. A couple of Canadian distributors have gotten together and held their own show but, similar to here in the U.S., they don’t want to manage the event. There’s so much work that needs to be done behind the scenes. Now, they just have to show up, work the event and help market the event to get dealers there, along with CEDIA and myself.”
The Tech Summits in the U.S. are primarily rep-driven events, with independent reps showcasing various lines. Other value-added vendors that don’t use reps but do not compete with rep lines have been key sponsors, such as HDMI Staffing, Dish Network and D-Tools. But the Canada custom integration market is much more driven by distributors than reps, according to Cichowski.
“It’s more of a hybrid model. Distributors in Canada are driving the event, because that’s how a lot of the business works up there. Also, some of the manufacturers sell direct to Canadian dealers from the U.S., and of course we want them to be part of the event. And then there are some companies based in Canada, like the Totem Acoustics of the world that want to be part of the Tech Summits. So the Toronto event will have broader sales channels present on the sponsor side.”
Cichowski says several manufacturers have already signed up to sponsor directly, while others are having their distributors take table-top exhibits.
Darling is equally excited about the new Toronto event from the dealer standpoint.
“CEDIA has a lot of members in Canada and the market has been under-served,” he adds.
Education to Cover TCD Software, Outdoor Designs
The slate of educational sessions for the Spring 2019 CEDIA Tech Summits are:
- Designing the Perfect Outdoor Environment
- 5 Ways to Get What You're Worth
- Job-Costing for Contractors Who Don't Like Accounting (namely, all Integrators)
- The CEDIA Designer (TCD)- The Ins and Outs
“The TCD training is going to be a really important because it’s such a great tool for CEDIA members. The software is really going to elevate the level of quality of room design for home theater and for surround sound, whether its Dolby Atmos or DTS:X or Auro.”
Cichowski is quick to point out that the TCD software is not just for high-end applications.
“There are different levels of the TCD designer tool. You can design a reasonably inexpensive system and still utilize this software to make the system better. It’s going to raise up the quality of what we’re doing in the industry as a whole.”
Other scheduled classes will be a panel discussion revolving around how to design outdoor entertainment environments, as well as an interactive session focused on business-oriented tips, such as boosting labor utilization, how to not leave money on the table, and honing youre sales and operational processes.
Possible Pre-Summit Manufacturer Training
One other new element for 2019 is the potential for individual manufacturer training. The 2018 Florida Summit offered 12 pre-event 30-minute manufacturer training courses the day before the Summit. It was a big hit, with 136 dealers partaking in the training.
So for 2019, CEDIA will be offering manufacturers and reps the opportunity to conduct individual product training again in assigned blocks of time. Cichowski is optimistic that pre-Summit manufacturer training will occur at several of the Spring 2019 events.
“It really worked out well last year, so we’re going to replicate it in Florida and expand into some other areas selectively as well,” he notes.