As we all gather in San Diego for our annual pilgrimage to CEDIA, it can seem like another year/another show. But this show is different – it is the last CEDIA show produced by CEDIA. A fact leading many to wonder…what does the future hold, for both the show and the organization? We’ve spoken to several members and exhibitors to learn of their mood heading into this seminal event.
See how many are feeling about this, the last CEDIA-produced show…
It seems before every show, we do a quick survey of attendees and companies exhibiting and capture a mix of anticipation, excitement, and this year…some trepidation. The trepidation seems to be the result of the many major changes taking place at the Association – changes that weren’t expected and for some, are still not understood.
So it was with our survey this year as well. Some of the feedback was rather mundane – Why are they holding it so close to a holiday?…Why San Diego? We lose a day travelling there and a day travelling back! (East Coast integrators)…Why don’t they have it in Denver/Dallas/Indianapolis/etc.?
One Thing is Crystal Clear
But one thing is crystal clear…this year is different. As Frank Sterns of Sony articulated to us recently in our story On Eve of Last CEDIA-Produced Show, Are We at a Turning Point?, eloquently expressing concerns we’ve been hearing over and over, this is a time of concern. People are finding the decisions made by CEDIA (primarily, we are told, by the Executive Committee) “perplexing.”
And one of the major points of concern is centered around what will be the future of the show. Once the event becomes the sole property of Emerald Expositions (which it already is, but they won’t exercise full management of it until 2018), just what does that mean for the event? Will they change it? Will they combine it with KBIS, the kitchen and bath show? Will they raise prices to exhibitors? How much ongoing influence will we in the industry have on the decisions of Emerald?
Grasping the Technology Business
Many told us, they expect the tone and feel of the show to change. Some allowed, it could be a good thing, saying “Change is good.” But most anticipate the new owners, who are thought to be not particularly experienced with technology, to be inexperience and clueless to the peculiarities of the technology business.
As one exhibitor told us, “Just when I was wondering what CEDIA was going to do to boost attendance, they up and sell the show,” a long time, and frustrated exhibitor told us. “I don’t see how that’s going to help.”
How Will CEDIA Survive?
Beyond the actual issue of the show itself, many are wondering how the organization will survive without the revenue from this event – which we can confirm brings in a profit of several million dollars each year. On this, the Association has had no information. They tell us that they are unable to discuss the terms of their deal with Emerald, who insisted on a non-disclosure clause in the purchase contract.
However, in an interview with Strata-gee, former CEO Vin Bruno said the organization will redeploy staff resources to launch new educational programs. The problem is, educational programs are not nearly as profitable as the show. This is most likely the reason that many trade associations rely on their annual event as an essential component of their ongoing funding.
Presumably, we’ll learn more about the organization’s plans for the future after the British consultant completes her strategic plan. We are told that will happen by the end of this year.
But for now…let’s enjoy San Diego and the last CEDIA show.
Learn more about CEDIA at www.cedia.net.