InfoComm reports increase in visitors to 2013 MEA show

InfoComm has claimed a 23% increase in visitors to InfoComm MEA 2013, held in Dubai from October 20 to 24, but Anna Mitchell argues that the show still needs to do more to hold its own within GITEX.

Small events can gain great benefits from co-locating with larger shows and  - whether by accident or design - when InfoComm Middle East and Africa found itself bang in the middle of Dubai’s giant technology show GITEX in 2011 the organisation couldn’t have gone better.

The relatively small regional AV industry was benefiting from through-traffic from a range of professionals – from IT managers to chief executives and directors - who wouldn’t imagine attending a dedicated AV show. Yet, these people have real buying power.

Unfortunately after being teased with these visitors InfoComm MEA exhibitors found themselves shifted off to a dedicated area at the edge of the sprawling Dubai World Trade Centre exhibition complex.

It is undoubtedly positive that the pro AV industry in this region has a serious and focused event, something that I would argue was missing before InfoComm MEA. However, the industry is small and what is attractive about GITEX visitors is that, whilst the majority don’t specify AV systems, they have purchasing power and real influence.

The 2013 event saw InfoComm MEA occupy its position at the end of the Sheikh Saeed Hall for the second year. InfoComm International is claiming 14,770 unique visitors to the show with 89% crossovers from GITEX.

However, the perception on the show floor was that, despite efforts from show organisers to promote more through traffic from GITEX, exhibitors still weren’t feeling the benefit they expected from being next door to the region’s biggest technology show. 

If you are an AV professional InfoComm MEA isn’t about discovering technology. With a few exceptions most of the products and solutions on show were unveiled elsewhere before this show. 

Most stands were showcasing technologies for the first time in the Middle East but if you are an AV integrator then you won’t be waiting for these products to land on your doorstep to become aware of them. 

The majority of installers will have representatives that travel to larger shows (namely InfoComm or ISE), they will be in direct contact with manufacturers and they will keep up to date via trade press. 

For an integrator, a trade event like this is a great opportunity to bring your customers to meet vendors and get hands-on with technologies. It’s a good place to explore technologies you are considering specifying. And, it’s a good place to meet with vendors of technologies you are already using.

On all these counts InfoComm MEA delivered. Most vendors enthused over the quality of the visitors they were seeing on their stands. These visitors were serious AV professionals and they were looking for technologies to buy. 

That fact should not be discounted and it’s the reason manufacturers return to the show.

But, what can also not be ignored is many exhibitors felt they were seeing people they already knew and had good relationships with. That’s important but given the price of exhibition space, stand build and employee costs it’s not solely what you exhibit for. The intention is to promote your brand to people who don’t know you. And, that’s what GITEX offers.

A number of manufacturers who InfoComm MEA would undoubtedly like to attract, including Christie, Panasonic and a host of videoconferencing vendors, are already firmly embedded in the GITEX show. The danger now is that InfoComm MEA will loose exhibitors to GITEX. 

I believe it will be a real shame if that happens and AV vendors are dispersed and lost within the huge range of other technologies on show in GITEX. But the organisers must address concerns now to avoid that scenario. I think the show is successfully providing a forum and focus for the regional AV industry. The challenge now is to look outside that and showcase the industry to end users and professionals on its periphery.

Co-location with GITEX could be a fantastic way to deliver that but if exhibitors start moving over then it might just be InfoComm MEA’s downfall.