EHX 2.0? EH Publishing Gambles on a New Trade Event at a Connecticut Casino

ceExchange LogoEH Publishing announced today that it is launching a new trade event next year that they call CE Exchange. The CE Exchange event will be held over a three-day period from May 6-to-May 8, 2013 at the MGM Grand Hotel in the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Targeted primarily to appeal to custom integrators in the northeast, the promoter says this is a new kind of event – not a typical trade show…but not a conference either.

So just what is CE Exchange?…

We spoke with John Galante, head of EH Events, to learn more abut this unique event. Galante told us that after speaking with dozens of exhibitors, sponsors, and integrators, EH Publishing undertook to create an  all-new type of event. The CE Exchange which will be a blend of three different kinds of events: VIP hosting, high-touch conferences, and expositions.

What, we asked Galante, was their key goal?

“If I were to sum it up in one word – that word would be ‘efficiency,'” Galante told us. “It will be more productive on a per dollar basis for ‘delegates’ and more productive for sponsors as well.”

The easy answer as to why Electronic House changed the format from their previous Electronic House Expos (EHX) is that the EHX trade show simply wasn’t working anymore. EHX was more of a traditional trade show format with a large exhibit hall at the center of the event…along with a series of training and other events conducted in conjunction with the show.

Traditional trade shows are a long shot…

John Galante, EH Events

John Galante, EH Events

The last few EHXs were national events trying to draw attendees from all over the U.S. However, trade shows as marketing events have struggled over the last few years for virtually all show promoters…and EH Publishing was not immune as they went from two bi-coastal EHXs…to one national EHX…to abandoning the event altogether earlier this year.

In addition to the EHX, Electronic House also held a smaller conference style event called the CEPro 100 Summit which drew attendees from CEPro Magazine’s Top 100 Highest Revenue Integrators as well as from sponsors who are offered opportunities for private meetings with the integrators. A completely different format from the EHX tradeshow style…Galante told us that the company has learned about the advantages of this smaller, more intimate style event.

What CE Exhange is not…

“CE Exchange is not a trade show,” Galante proclaimed. “It’s not being held in a convention center…there’s not going to be 3 full days of show floor hours, and we don’t have to draw in thousands of attendees.”

Instead, Galante told us that the CE Exchange will be held in a beautiful, relatively new meeting facility with an agenda that will be a mixture of general (group) sessions, smaller break-out sessions, vendor trainings, and a ‘Showcase Meeting Area’ instead of a show floor with booths.

Foxwoods Resort and Casino

A matter of degree…

To some degree…it’s a matter of degree. While there is no trade show floor with huge vendor booths…there is a Showcase Meeting Area with generally smaller vendor exhibits. Galante tells us that most vendors will have a 100-200 sq.ft. display area. Event sponsors will have larger 400-600 sq.ft. display areas. So we’re really talking about 10X10 to 20X30 booths at the CE Exchange…rather than huge 50X50 and larger booths at EHX. Although, to be fair, there were quite a few vendors in 10X10 and 10X20 booths at EHX as well.

Still, there is no question that the CE Exchange will be a much smaller event, in a more intimate environment…and in what might be the biggest advantage – in a regional location. While all are welcome, EH Events clearly expects the attendees (or in CE Exchange vernacular – “delegates”) to come predominantly from the NY metro area. Although Galante feels that it will draw from what he calls the East Coast Megapolis – from Maine to Washington D.C. – it should be “an easy drive for most of the attendees,” Galante told us.

An affordable alternative…

CE Exhange will also be more affordable for attendees. Galante told us that they plan a hotel room rate of $129 per night, which is extremely affordable for the NY Metro market. In past surveys conducted by the ALERT about trade shows – one of the most common complaints we’ve received is how costly they’ve become to attend – both in terms of airfare and exorbitant hotel rates. Clearly, EH Events is seeking to make this show more affordable for attendees.

“We’ll have affordable $50 Showcase-only passes, discounted day passes, and a full conference rate of $400-$500,” Galante told us. “The event will have more of a quality feel to it.”

However, Galante told us that he doesn’t want us to call the CE Exchange a “conference.” “Conferences are usually exclusively educational-only events,” Galante told us. “At CE Exchange, education is key, but not dominant.”

East Coast Megapolis

Next on the agenda? The agenda…

The agenda has not been finalized yet, but Galante assures us that it will feature powerful presentations on topical issues. So far, their feedback from potential attendees seem to focus in four key areas:

  1. What new technologies are out there…
  2. What new markets are out there…
  3. How to best sell into a new market…
  4. How to best evolve our business model…

EH Events is busy at work planning the final agenda which will be announced in the near future.

Will the numbers work?…

About 750 attendees with around another 200 or so sponsor personnel are expected to attend the CE Exchange. So with a total of around 1,000 attendees, it is clearly more conference-sized event.

While this attendance level is substantially less than, say a CEDIA Expo, which attracted 17,600 last year – remember, this is a new regional conference-style event. No doubt, EH Events would call the comparison unfair because CE Exchange is not a trade show like CEDIA Expo.

Sponsors get a new experience, too…

Galante tells us that sponsors will benefit on many levels from this new style even. For example, sponsors will be given a certain number of registrations to participate in the event just like the other attendees. The thinking is that this will facilitate interaction between the vendors and the integrators unlike that which exists in a trade show environment.

“We want vendors to sit side-by-side with delegates,” Galante enthused. “We want sponsors to think beyond the booth.”

And EH Events is expanding the promotional package for sponsors to include digital media. Not only will sponsors have the direct exposure to the attendees at the event, but through a partnership with CEPro, sponsors messages will be push-distributed and promoted to “the CEPro universe.”

This is it for the long haul…

Galante told us that EH Publishing believe that this is the right format for the industry as it exists today. “We want to stick with this format for the long-term,” Galante said. “We’re not planning to turn it into a convention down the road.”

In any event, there is already a 2014 plan. Assuming all goes well, EH Events plans to reprise the New York Metro event again next year – and add a second one, called CE Exchange – Americas in Miami, Florida. The Miami event, company materials say, is targeted for attendance from the Florida market “and the growing Latin American market.”

If you’d like more information on attending next year’s CE Exchange, email:

If you’d like to get more details on becoming a sponsor, call John Galante at 508-663-1500 x292 or email him at

But…does the industry really need more trade events? What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell us if you think the industry needs – or wants – more trade events. Or let us know your reaction to this new type of event…


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