Conference vs. Expo

Posted by on Jul 29, 2009 in blog | No Comments
Conference vs. Expo

The Design Automation Conference (DAC) is in San Francisco this week at the Moscone Center and this event/show brings up a very good point of the Conference vs. the Expo. More observations at the end of the show as well.

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Monday was Free Mondays for the expo hall for visitors. Free days for attendees is always a good thing and I am glad to see the organizers of this event continuing that. In the tough times the world is in, it is hard to justify the costs of conference and expo badge prices. If you look at various tradeshows and events around the globe, some are free and some can cost upwards of $1,000. For those who are on tight budgets, no budgets, or just want to check out the expo, a free pass is great. More organizers of events and shows should consider a free option if they do not have it already.

Tuesday was Management Day. I was graciously offered the Management Day package to be added to my already free pass for this event. Again, kudos to the organizer for scubbing their registration and actually qualifying attendees and exhibitors. A great way to know who is at your shows and events, is to actually look at the data. Unlike other organizers who do not look at the date, only to pad their headcount numbers, this is a great way to attract more people to site. Granted, the package was listed as $99 on their site and it can make you wonder; was it low pre-registration for this program and it needed to be filled or organizers trying to reach out? Management day was good, very focused and structured. The one thing that caught my attention was very little foot traffic in the lobby areas. The conferences and sessions were filled enough, but, not many people were milling around, trying to register, or get information. The expo floor was not all that packed either. Could this be a sign of the times and economy?

The organizers put together a BlogFest by inviting various blog contributors to the event which is a great idea. These are not just media outlets and professional writers, but everyday people and people who blog about industry happenings and other areas. It is a great concept and way to spread the word via social media. Very innovative and informative at the same time and a great way to reach more in a shorter time.

So we come to the question. What attracts more; the expo or the conference. It is tough to produce both events at the same time and run them. It’s even harder to get exhibitors to say yes, I am going to make the investment on the show floor and be there for 4 days knowing how trade shows are down. There are some events out there that have had their issues with having a conference and expo area at the same time and drawing people to both. ITC, is a prime example of how the conference overtook the expo. For years, ITC had a huge draw to the show floor for exhibtors and attendees alike. As time went on, the conference area and keynotes were in a separate area and the show floor suffered. A change had to be made of course to draw more people to the floor and the organizers put the keynote area in the back of the show floor, forcing the flow of traffic to go through the show floor. It worked for traffic, but unfortunately, many exhibitors decided not to attend anymore. The same can be said for DISCON that has struggled in the past couple of years to attract more exhibitors and attendees to the show floor.There is one group that has done well over the years in producing a conference and expo and that is SPIE.This association/organizer puts on great events around the world in conjunction with great sessions and keynotes. Granted, attendance has been down for all events globally, but this organizer knows how to balance and make it work.

Conference_blogimg2

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Conference vs. Expo
The Design Automation Conference (DAC) is in San Francisco this week at the Moscone Center and this event/show brings up a very good point of the Conference vs. the Expo. More observations at the end of the show as well.

Monday was Free Mondays for the expo hall for visitors. Free days for attendees is always a good thing and I am glad to see the organizers of this event continuing that. In the tough times the world is in, it is hard to justify the costs of conference and expo badge prices. If you look at various tradeshows and events around the globe, some are free and some can cost upwards of $1,000. For those who are on tight budgets, no budgets, or just want to check out the expo, a free pass is great. More organizers of events and shows should consider a free option if they do not have it already.

Tuesday was Management Day. I was graciously offered the Management Day package to be added to my already free pass for this event. Again, kudos to the organizer for scubbing their registration and actually qualifying attendees and exhibitors. A great way to know who is at your shows and events, is to actually look at the data. Unlike other organizers who do not look at the date, only to pad their headcount numbers, this is a great way to attract more people to site. Granted, the package was listed as $99 on their site and it can make you wonder; was it low pre-registration for this program and it needed to be filled or organizers trying to reach out? Management day was good, very focused and structured. The one thing that caught my attention was very little foot traffic in the lobby areas. The conferences and sessions were filled enough, but, not many people were milling around, trying to register, or get information. The expo floor was not all that packed either. Could this be a sign of the times and economy?

The organizers put together a BlogFest by inviting various blog contributors to the event which is a great idea. These are not just media outlets and professional writers, but everyday people and people who blog about industry happenings and other areas. It is a great concept and way to spread the word via social media. Very innovative and informative at the same time and a great way to reach more in a shorter time.

So we come to the question. What attracts more; the expo or the conference. It is tough to produce both events at the same time and run them. It’s even harder to get exhibitors to say yes, I am going to make the investment on the show floor and be there for 4 days knowing how trade shows are down. There are some events out there that have had their issues with having a conference and expo area at the same time and drawing people to both. ITC, is a prime example of how the conference overtook the expo. For years, ITC had a huge draw to the show floor for exhibtors and attendees alike. As time went on, the conference area and keynotes were in a separate area and the show floor suffered. A change had to be made of course to draw more people to the floor and the organizers put the keynote area in the back of the show floor, forcing the flow of traffic to go through the show floor. It worked for traffic, but unfortunately, many exhibitors decided not to attend anymore. The same can be said for DISCON that has struggled in the past couple of years to attract more exhibitors and attendees to the show floor. There is one group that has done well over the years in producing a conference and expo and that is SPIE. This association/organizer puts on great events around the world in conjunction with great sessions and keynotes. Granted, attendance has been down for all events globally, but this organizer knows how to balance and make it work.

We will be at Moscone again tomorrow as the event wraps up to see how traffic is. It is not a great sign when the registration area is empty and the staff are sitting behind the tables, looking bored and eager to assist in printing out your badge. Follow #46DAC on Twitter for updates from the show floor as well.

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