SIEL/SATIS report - Vit la France?

Following September’s somewhat gloomy discussion with a French distributor / integrator, the InAVate team felt honour bound to return to the home of the bon viveur to determine whether this feeling of gloom was widespread or whether our correspondent was just having a bad day.

Since last year’s SIEL event, and largely I suspect, because of declining visitor numbers to both shows, SIEL has been combined with SATIS forming a single four day event in Paris, France.

SIEL-SATIS as it is now called, is designed to attract visitors from both the audiovisual installation market and the live entertainment sector. In addition, the presence of Le Radio, means that broadcast also has its place. You would be forgiven for thinking that putting all these disparate media markets into a single hall was something of a risk.

However it is, in my belief, inevitable that national integration trade shows will continue to be afflicted by what we shall call: The ISE Effect. In order to survive they must seek to attract more visitors from a shrinking pool, by combining with other events.

The risk of course, is that for those that do attend that the message becomes diluted, and for exhibitors there is a lot of footfall that isn’t interested in their wares.

So, what of the SIEL-SATIS fusion? Should you have been there? Well it really depends what you want from a trade show. Let’s stick to the reasons why you should go to being with.

Firstly, if you want to talk to the major players in the French distribution market, they are there. The Audiopoles, Sennheiser Frances and FVS’s of this world were all present and with good sized booths. France’s biggest integration firm IEC even had its own VIP lounge at the exhibition – a not insignificant show of Fraternité for what remains the national event.

The second reason is to be seen yourself. In a market such as France, which is run on relationships and trust, it’s important one is seen by one’s peers. Fine, French integrators already know that, but even for those from outside if you want to do business in France you need to be seen. A wise man (who may have been my French teacher) once told me that to get a good deal from a Frenchman, you should buy from him in France, and speak French, which leads us on to reason three- French manufacturers.

There might not be an enormous number of French AV equipment vendors, but there are a few, and invariably their products are good. Vity controls, Digigram, Innovason, Nexo and L-Acoustics audio equipment, Analog Way video processors; all of these are found in installations and rental stock across the world. Now of course you can see them elsewhere at other shows, but in Paris they are on home turf and in their element. Most of these guys had new products on show, which you’d have to wait for ISE or Frankfurt to have a look at.

However that also takes us into the main reason not to go: new products. With the best will in the world, if you want to see the latest and greatest technology, have a limited time budget and can’t spend the time for two shows each year, then please, go to ISE. It really is that simple. However, there were some new things on display. For instance a new presentation switcher / scaler from Kramer (the VP-927) made a first appearance. Also, distributor Ressources & Intégration had a new wireless full-range audio system from American vendor Airfonix.

There were a couple of other interesting little bits and pieces around to see. A folding projector screen from DESIGNscreen, also on the R&I booth, can be concealed as a wall poster or advertisement and is available in 1.0 or 1.1 gain versions – great for bars or other multi-use venues who can’t afford an electric screen.

AV furniture specialist Audipack demonstrated a new stand for the Panasonic 103” plasma display as well as it’s digital signage enclosure.

So finally, what of the mood or the market? I’m glad to report that it was largely upbeat. One of the benefits of being a somewhat insular nation, is that you are also insulated slightly from what’s going on outside. The general feeling is that whilst doing business with international companies is now not great – there was talk of American financial institutions cancelling or shelving projects from more than one quarter – French-based installation projects are still going on.

In addition, firms with an interest in the rental and staging markets were very upbeat. Both Analog Way’s Ludovic Vossovic and Christie Digital’s David Griffiths reported that they were happy with the footfall and inquiries on their respective booths.

And the final verdict? Not setting the world on fire, but worth a look if you have the time!

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