Trade Shows

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This past week, trade shows for three clients graced my calendars simultaneously. Since I had gotten to ISC West, I thought I could skip the ESX electronic security expo in Nashville. That’s because I figured I could split my week between the Health and Beauty Aids Expo in NYC and UBM’s bundled packaging, plastics, medical device, quality, automation, and manufacturing events in Philadelphia. Long week, but I learned a few things. Well, one I already knew — there are no shoes comfortable and supportive enough for a day at a trade show. And also, each city and convention facility has its pros and cons. Let’s look at them.

Overall Facilities:

Jacob Javits Center in NYC has been there a long time, far longer than Philly’s Pennsylvania Convention Center. It has been there long enough to need regular renovation, another of which it is undergoing now. I have been at show in Javits when the roof has been leaking into an exhibitor’s booth. The PA Convention Center (PACC) is newer but was built for smaller shows and became a work in progress adapting to fit larger events. Neither one is ideal, but Javits has always been larger-scale and able to go with the flow. Advantage: NYC

Our client HLP Klearfold fortunately had a prominent location toward the front of the HBA hall at Javits.

Our client HLP Klearfold fortunately had a prominent location toward the front of the HBA hall at Javits.

Access:

Both facilities are in the heart of major urban centers. Although NYC is the larger city, Javits is conveniently located on the west side, a block in from the Hudson. It is a short walk from Pennsylvania Station, but an even shorter walk from the midtown ferry of NY Waterways, so you can park on the NJ side and enjoy a nice boat ride getting to the show. PACC is at the very heart of Philly, a block off Market near City Hall. It is accessible from various train, subway, and bus stops, and there are lots of parking lots nearby. Problem is that when Center City Philly traffic is completely gridlocked, things can be bad for getting in or out of PACC. Advantage: NYC

View of space shuttle Enterprise on the flight deck of the Intrepid from the top deck of a NY Waterways ferry.

View of space shuttle Enterprise on the flight deck of the Intrepid from the top deck of a NY Waterways ferry.


Labor:

Be prepared to pay top dollar as an exhibitor at both halls, because both are unionized labor. But I understand at the event in Philly, the requirement did not kick in until your booth was 400 square feet or larger. So, for smaller exhibitors, and at carpentry rates of $200 per hour, it might pay to stay small. Also, good help can be hard to find, so be prepared to supervise your own booth construction. All things considered, things are always more expensive in NYC. Slight advantage: Philly

Food:

While at Javits this week, I didn’t bother leaving the building for lunch. The closest restaurants are a long walk. At a prior show, I made the trek and discovered they were all booked by exhibitors for private parties. That leaves cabbing it to a better meal or the Javits downstairs food court where this week, I discovered subterranean pigeons. I’ll take Philly’s Reading Terminal Market (where Wayne Hayward of Tinius Olsen treated me to a great gyro lunch) and many nearby restaurants any time. Big advantage: Philly

Demonic pigeon from the bowels of the Javits Center subterranean food court.

Demonic pigeon from the bowels of the Javits Center subterranean food court.

Traffic:

Truth be told, that always depends on the quality of show management, the calendar, and multiple other factors. Like print, I keep hearing that trade shows are a dying enterprise. However, where else can companies meet face to face with new prospects and existing customers and vice versa. Expositions typically have an educational component with a full schedule of on-site conference sessions. While attendance seemed very light at both the NYC and Philly shows the days I was there, I don’t think either event or venue was a clear winner in this regard. Tie

Hotels:

Both cities have some phenomenal four-star hotels and both have their share of sub-par properties. New York’s rates (rapes?) are legendary, although Philly’s aren’t exactly a bargain. Both cities have made news in recent years with bedbug reports, but Philly had a fire from a meth lab being operated from a hotel room in Center City. My solution is to stay in NJ and take the ferry. Another tie

Winner:

If you go by my above scoring, you’ll see it is pretty much of a dead heat tie. But in this case, bigger is better (New York), experience counts (New York), and there is the X Factor that New York, like Las Vegas, is a destination city. So, I guess I give a slight edge to New York City with the recognition that trends favor a passing of the baton. Philly hasn’t been at the trade show, convention, and meeting business as long, but with continued improvements on all fronts, might just pull off a coup. Meanwhile, for fans of Elvis, country music bars, cowboy boot emporiums, you can’t do better than an exposition in Nashville.

Elvis lives (outside many storefronts) in the Nashville Expo Center neighborhood.

Elvis lives (outside many storefronts) in the Nashville Expo Center neighborhood.

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Living north of the Mason-Dixon line, I get a little tired of all the Blue State – Red State chatter and the way that the South gets looked down upon from the ivory towers on both coasts. I have never found it less than rewarding  to visit any Southern state or city. The locals are always friendly, the food is always comforting, and the music is always invigorating.

The chance to visit the Electronic Security Expo in Nashville was no exception. I had a great time sampling barb-b-q, listening to honky tonk bands, and sighting Elvis (at last four times in an hour).

My sense of Nashville is that it exists for in-state politics and out-of-state tourists lured by the Grand Ole Opry and the chance to discover the next great country music star in one of the many juke joints along Broadway.  Most of the manageable downtown consists of hotels, a few office buildings, the convention center, and a lot of tourism sites and supporting businesses. I didn’t see a lot of residences in town, so the city really seems like a business and arts center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville is doing a good job of converting long-gone spaces into new places. Former banks on opposite corners are now a gift store and a tattoo parlor respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to the Ernest Tubbs record store reminded me that vinyl lives. And that country and crossover music has a unique heritage all its own. Personal favorites like Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline, and Steve Earle were there in abundance.

By the time the ESX show opened, I was in a mellow CMT frame of mind. It was great to visit clients former (Linear), present (2GIG Technologies, Secure Wireless) and hopefully future (Security Partners). It was even better to help out with some onsite PR when 2GIG Technologies did the remarkable — winning the overall Maximum Impact Award two years running with a second incredible home security/automation panel, the Go! 2.0.  It was a terrific way to wind up a fun visit to a fun Southern city. Makes me long for a road trip through Memphis, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans. . .

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Don't tread on me — somehow my Macbook Pro survived being run over by only upper display and case damage.

Don't tread on me — somehow my Macbook Pro survived being run over with only upper display and case damage.

My trip to the ISC West Security Expo this week didn’t start out on a winning note when I went to straighten my car in a parking space at the airport car park. My laptop case flopped over at the worst possible moment and I managed to run over the edge of it. Despite a creased screen, my Macbook Pro and mental state survived a very bad hand. From there, I found myself having a fun, never less-than-entertaining time in Sin City. I’m not a gambler, so I can usually limit the damage on a Vegas trip to electronica.

Things off to a great start with the chance to catch up with old Newton friend, Don Shook, who now heads Merit Media Relations in Vegas, a PR firm specializing in the packaging industry. We worked together with Don years ago when he handled corporate relations in-house for Graphic Packaging, the folding carton giant, and then a unit of Coors. Don has been a great many things in his career, including law enforcement in CO, a news video editor at Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV when Larry Kane was anchoring there, and a world-class punster. All that and this photo of us in the lobby of the Venetian with a statuesque blonde should more than qualify Don to succeed Ricky Gervais as host of the Golden Globes.

The author and old friend Don Shook, the gold (leaf) standard in media relations.

The author and old friend Don Shook, the gold (leaf) standard in media relations.

The rest of my short stay was no less memorable. It consisted of a whirlwind Thursday calling on two Newton clients exhibiting at ISC West and walking a very packed Sands Expo Center.

The folks at 2GIG Technologies continue to lead the industry in security and home automation with panels that emphasize elegant ease-of-use design and do things no one is even thinking about. They use the Alarm.com platform, which was featured in a full page ad in the US Air magazine on my flight in.

The 2GIG booth was demo land at ISC because everyone wanted to get a preview of the new Go! 2.0 panel.

The 2GIG booth was demo land at ISC because everyone wanted to get a preview of the new Go! 2.0 panel.

Powerhouse decided that "the force is with 2GIG" and used a Star Wars theme to promote the Go!Control Panel.

Powerhouse decided that "the force is with 2GIG" and used a Star Wars theme to promote the Go!Control Panel.

The Powerhouse Star Wars suit featured a fully armed Go!Control Panel from 2GIG Technologies..

The Powerhouse Star Wars suit featured a fully armed Go!Control Panel from 2GIG Technologies

I got a demo of 2GIGs new Go! 2.0 panel and it is quite frankly mind-blowing what they are building in. No wonder their booth was packed from start of show till finish. Also why even their distributors like Power House can’t get enough of this product line — they took to the floor in Star Wars gear with the original Go! Control panel affixed to the front and back of the Imperial Stormtrooper uniform. That’s just terrific trade show buzz-generating fun.

Expertly piggybacking on this Z-Wave of home security functionality is Secure Wireless, another Newton client specializing in the industry’s top wireless transmitters and sensors (compatible with every major manufacturer’s line) plus OEM lines developed for these same makers. Secure Wireless has built a solid business by being even better than the equivalent units by the manufacturers.

Secure Wireless is the one of the leading developers of RF based transmitters and receivers in the world.

Secure Wireless is the one of the leading developers of RF based transmitters and receivers in the world.

The rest of ISC was a blur of very different but always interesting exhibits and statements.

Probably not a good idea to use your products (CCTV cameras) as mini golf hazards in a trade show booth putting green.

Probably not a good idea to use your products (CCTV cameras) as mini golf hazards in a trade show booth putting green.

Bosch decided to emphasize inventory. Hence an exhibit made entirely out of CCTV packaging.

Bosch decided to emphasize inventory. Hence an exhibit made entirely out of CCTV packaging.

Assa Abloy was a big presence at ISC West (including a booth big enough to house a tractor trailer).

Assa Abloy was a big presence at ISC West (including a booth big enough to house a tractor trailer).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capping the day was a chance to catch up with a few old friends at the Nine Fine Irishmen pub at New York, New York. Great Celtic fare for those of us who missed Saint Patrick’s Day, as well as an awesome high-energy house band, Sin E Ri Ra.

And the most amazing groupie I have ever seen.

The Irish know how to have a good time. So do the folks who built and now maintain Las Vegas as one of the world’s great destination cities for business and pleasure.

It's hard to beat Vegas as the 24/7 fun time capital of the world.

It's hard to beat Vegas as the 24/7 fun time capital of the world.

 

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Luxe Pack is the premier show for creative packaging.

Luxe Pack is the premier show for creative packaging.

Trade shows, whether exhibiting or attending, demand the most comfortable pair of shoes in your closet, a full pocket of business cards, and a honed 30-second elevator pitch.  The cab line at the Las Vegas airport during the week of the Consumer Electronics Show resembles the back-up at a Disney theme park ride. I have been standing in someone’s booth and been dripped on from the leaky roof of the Javits Center. Once taking a cab back to an August security show, I took a full shower in a suit and tie when we passed by kids who had taken the cover off their neighborhood fire hydrant. Yes, trade shows can be more than a little challenging.

Which is why I like to visit Luxe Pack every year when it comes to New York (or you could also choose Monaco or Shanghai). It is not your typical trade show by any stretch. It attracts exhibitors focusing on packaging and luxury goods for major global brands in beauty, wine and spirits, and fine food. It is held in the Metropolitan Pavilion and The Altman Building in Chelsea. It brings together less than 200 exhibitors with some really impressively artful samples. And show staff come around the aisles at the end of the day and serve champagne.

The  hall is populated with many cosmetics and fragrance industry execs. Most of the conversations are in English but with a French accent. Everyone is overwhelmingly polite and gracious. This is how all business should be conducted.

Mostly, I go to Luxe Pack, however, to view and get inspired by some of the world’s most beautiful packaging, as well as the materials and components that go into these packages.

HLP Klearfold is the global leader in visual packaging.

HLP Klearfold is the global leader in visual packaging.

One of our clients, HLP Klearfold, was an exhibitor again this year. HLP Klearfold is the global leader in visual packaging (clear plastic folding cartons), part of the Hip Lik Group of Hong Kong,  with world-class production facilities in Shenzhen, China. We have been assisting North America with branding, ads, web design, literature, exhibit graphics, sample packages, and PR.  Their printing, special effects, and Soft Crease scoring capabilities are really impressive. The combination of clear packaging and imaginative structural and graphic designs result in some showcase opportunities that support top brands and premium positioning.

While at Luxe Pack, I had many interesting conversations with other exhibitors eager to talk about their high-end, one-of-a-kind packaging (etched glass, carved wood, metallic effects).  Even as I was headed out to the street, I encountered one last exhibitor, Material Connexion, who is a consultancy to manufacturers and packagers looking for sustainable solutions. They maintain an incredible global database and a material sample library, a collection of which it featured at the show. This company’s services are a potential strategic fit for two of our clients, so it was a worthwhile trip to Luxe Pack just to learn of this resource. I highly recommend Luxe Pack to anyone with a luxury product to brand, package, and sell. And since you missed this one in New York, you can also plan a trip to Monaco in October.

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Consumer Electronics  Association has rightly named 2GIG's GO!Control the 2011 Security Product of the Year

Consumer Electronics Association has rightly named 2GIG's GO!Control the 2011 Security Product of the Year

Next week is the International Security Expo in Las Vegas — the industry’s biggest event and Newton Associates is proud to be helping 2GIG Technologies garner some publicity during their debut as an exhibitor. The thing is they don’t need much help, because 2GIG’s GO!Control panel is justifiably attracting significant attention on its own — it was just named 2011 Security Product of the Year by the Consumer Electronics Association.

Imagine that — a security control designed with the consumer and with consumer trends in mind. Homeowners are embracing the cool color touchscreen with simple intuitive instructions and controls (200,000 of them were installed in the first year to market). What the GO!Control is really unlocking, however, is a communications revolution and the amazing possibilities opened by a built-in radio employing Z-Wave wireless mesh networking technology. Z-Wave allows communication between lighting, appliances, HVAC, entertainment centers, and security systems for the purposes of remote home monitoring, home healthcare, safety and security, and energy conservation.

For years, the security industry has been trying to get behind two things — wireless technology and “the smart home.” With the GO!Control, that promise appears to be largely and finally fulfilled. Tech-savvy consumers are eager for it and standards and other supporting products and services are in place and being added quickly.

2GIG’s panel also takes advantage of the number of consumers who are shedding landline telephones or POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). No more worries about an intruder cutting a hardwired phone line to disable your home security. More importantly, with wireless phone linkage, homeowners can control practically anything in their homes with a smart phone or the Internet and software from 2GIG’s partner, Alarm.com. That includes arming/disarming, thermostat setting, lighting control, lock control, and video monitoring. Who needs “Angry Birds” when you can putter around your house from an airport lounge 2,000 miles away.

Should be a very busy week at the 2GIG booth during ISC.  Installers have been waiting for a long time for a product they could get behind and get consumers enthused about. The GO!Control is the most exciting and transformational product we’ve seen in our 20 years of marketing in the security industry.

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