Yes, that headline is a direct quote from one of the exhibitors that we polled during last week’s CEDIA 2017 (formerly Expo). We actually doubt that the show this year was truly the best ever overall, but we ran into a high percentage of happy exhibitors this year.
See more on what attendees/exhibitors told us about this CEDIA show…
So it is often difficult to intuit the total level of attendance just by observing the show floor. There are just too many variables influencing what you see at any spot on the floor.
That being said, we were struck by the level of optimism from exhibitors, many of whom told us the attendance was clearly up this year. And, as we usually hear at shows, the “mood” is positive and upbeat.
Higher Percentage of Satisfied Exhibitors, But Not All are Happy
We survey both exhibitors and attendees in a totally non-scientific manner to try and get some first-person, man-on-the-street feedback as we cruise around the floor. There is no question that this year, we found a much higher percentage of satisfied exhibitors than we have in four or five previous CEDIA shows.
That’s not to say everyone was happy. We spoke with a couple of exhibitors in the sound room areas that were not impressed with traffic…in fact, you could say they were unhappy with the lack of traffic.
We also found several exhibitors who complained about late crowds every day. These exhibitors tended to be towards the back of the hall. Those booths in the A, B, C, sections tended to be happier than those in the D, E, F, G halls as many people entered from the doors into the A, B, C halls.
So is the Overall Satisfaction Level Higher? Was Attendance Up?
We don’t know. What we can tell you is that we met with an executive from Emerald Expositions during the event who told us that – unofficially – attendance appeared to be up a little over 10 percent. However, the final figure needed processing to confirm.
An executive with CEDIA told us they expect to be able to report an increase in attendance, suggesting that by holding the event on the West Coast, they had “unlocked” some attendees there who might not have gone to more easterly shows. When we pushed for a guesstimate from this person…they guessed something more in the range of high single digit percentage growth.
Why Is It So Hard to Figure Out Attendance?
It is truly hard to survey a show at one spot in time and closely estimate overall attendance. This is because there are so many variables impacting your senses that can fool them.
This year, for example, the event was held in a new convention center in San Diego – the first time the CEDIA show was ever held there. So this becomes the source of several complicating factors. First, it is an entirely new facility, with a different configuration compared to past shows. That alone makes a direct comparison difficult.
A Different Facility
And in this different convention center, unlike in other years, CEDIA was able to combine the whole show onto one floor. In years past, the show was split between different floors, and/or different halls. Here, everyone was in one large room…possibly giving the illusion of a “bigger” show by compressing all attendees to the same place at the same time.
Another thing we noticed is that one aisle could be jammed, while a parallel aisle one row over could be empty. Also, the setup here seemed to heavily favor those towards the entrance and first few rows. This is always the case, but seemed more so this year.
In any event, we suspect that attendance this year will be up slightly as compared to previous shows. In the past, CEDIA has announced attendance in a press release on the last day of the show. However, this year, Emerald Expositions has taken over the event and has told CEDIA they will be releasing the attendance figures within ten days of the close of the show.
Emerald is Pouring Over the Data Before Releasing
Emerald, we are told, is pouring over the data. Whatever that data shows, the high watermark for CEDIA show attendance was 2007 – fully ten years ago – when 29,000 attendees showed up. For the next five years, we watched attendance figures crash, finally beginning to recover in 2013. But the recovery has been pretty weak, with growth rates of just 1% in 2015 to 18,700…and 0% in 2016, to 18,750.
Hopefully, this year will show a little more growth, something exhibitors are desperate to experience.
See more about CEDIA at: www.cedia.net.