August 19, 2008
Either You're With Us Or Against Us
He lists five areas of dealing with vendors and prospects where he's reached his wit's end:
- wireless internet
- "pay for play" (prospect's refusal to exhibit w/o a speaking opportunity)
- lack of control over how subcontractors treat customers
On first read, I think part of Tim's challenge on the cost issues is that his exhibitors are new school thinkers, possibly undercapitalized, and armed with deep and wide metrics from their online marketing activities - metrics difficult to duplicate with inexact media like tradeshows.
The experienced among us know that booth space is often only 20-25% of total exhibitor expense. But as show managers, we have to justify the other 75% too. Despite advances in data capture, our industry's metrics remain too inexact for many customers and prospects. For the show manager, there's simply no one spreadsheet factoid we can point at for a specific show and say, "This was your expense. This was your return. How can you say exhibiting at our show didn't work?"
That, plus, particularly with drayage, many of Tim's exhibitors may not be "used to" this type of extortion (or the soda example, which truly sucks), whereas in traditional and mainstream industries the person responsible for managing the logistics just plugs that number into a spreadsheet because they know it's coming. So it maybe the unanticipated surprise and shock as the actual figure.
I wanted to give Tim a wider audience for this post as it's a necessary discussion for our industry.
I'd write more about it, but I'm on my wife's Dell which has a broken space bar and uses XP, which I've all but forgotten how to deal with ;-)
June 08, 2007
Bending to Pressure: Business or Wusiness?
EXPO reports that Reed Elsevier is in the process of divesting itself from any of its properties related to defense.
Sir Crispin Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Reed Elsevier, said:
"Our defence shows are quality businesses which have performed well in recent years. Nonetheless, it has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement in the defence exhibitions business.
Granted, Reed reports those businesses represent only 0.5% of total revenue (albeit revenues pushed $16 billion last year, so that fraction is not insignificant - $80 million give or take), so it appears worth it for them to forego that revenue in order to keep the revenue it makes from the hundreds/thousands of academics who contribute content for Reed's educational publishing divisions.
The discussion leading up to this decision has been going on for at least two years, and is best summarized in this excerpt from ideolect.org.uk:
I believe that the DSEi arms fairs are immoral, geopolitically reckless, sometimes illegal (e.g.) and improperly regulated (e.g.). Beyond this, I resent that a publisher which profits from the hard (and publicly funded) work of academics uses those profits to support the sale to undemocratic & repressive governments of such things as depleted uranium shells, cluster bombs, missile technology and small arms. The arms fairs Spearhead organises (yes, DSEi isn't the only one) are a measly amount of Elsevier's business, but it is a part that makes academics complicit in the deaths of civilians, in torture and in political repression around the world.
Still, this type of political action and Reed's reaction begs the question, where is the line?
- Should there not be any defense-related shows? Who should run them? (We'd hope "the good guys").
- Should there be pressure to end Reed's participation (or any other media company) in all businesses in all countries that routinely violate human rights? Who's on that case?
- If defense is being called into question, why not is Reed's stand on genetically-modified foods? On child labor? On terrorism? On smoking? On cell phone use when driving?
We're not in favor of child soldiers anywhere. But that's almost beside the point. It's one thing when a company adopts a policy because of market dynamics. A good example of that is right here in Pittsburgh, where it was just reported today that 12 of 15 new restaurants launched in May were non-smoking, despite the fact that the smoking ban wasn't passed. Free market at work.
But that's a case of institutionalizing a behavioral change. Ending smoking. This action doesn't remove arms shows, it simply shifts ownership. As Matt noted in the comments on ideolect, somebody else will simply take over the shows - maybe somebody in Saudi Arabia. Or Russia. Or somewhere equally as distasteful.
It's unclear what threats the "important customers" levied against Reed to influence this decision. Apparently it was enough. But we have trouble with Sir Davis's usage of "authors" in the press release as though writers held equal standing with customers. "Authors" shouldn't be equated thusly.
However, we're not talking "authors" in this case as much as we are discussing content contributors to Reed's educational businesses - where it appears throughout history, there's been a sort of "one hand washes the other" arrangement.
Anyway, the backstory is interesting and worth investigating some Sunday night when you would normally have been watching The Sopranos
The nagging question for TSMR regarding "authors"... does this mean if me and a bunch of other bloggers decide Reed should divest itself of MIDEM because we demonize the RIAA, deplore the concept of DRM, decry the existence and unfairness of ASCAP and BMI and everything else that's wrongheaded with the music industry, would Reed do so?
That would be an interesting social experiment.
August 17, 2006
Who Needs Brand Anyway? Pulvermedia Expands to Financial Markets, Resurrects the Old DCI Everything Under the Sun Model
I thought I knew something about brands and branding. But I don't have millions in my bank account like Jeff Pulver. So it's hard to say what I'd do in a millionaire's shoes.
While it's somewhat easy to understand his getting into events and publishing to capitalize on the emerging market he created, what gives with buying up financial conferences?
I suppose if you're going to hire Jason Chudnofsky to run your show organization, you can't expect to sit still. But I would've guessed international expansion of the VoIP and like properties, not glomming onto a whole different industry like banking.
Thing is, Jason's had a hankering to get into the finanicial market for years. He'd already done his due diligence eight years or so ago when Softbank threw a concept called "Comdex Wall Street" against the wall. It didn't stick. I had actually interviewed with Jason for the show manager job on that baby before opting to stay with Internet World.
Nothing against Jason, he's a smart, entertaining and interesting guy who's full of energy and ideas. But this purchase just doesn't make sense to me. It seems incongrous to the Pulver brand. Do you understand it?
And what's this with the six shows in one venue. Jason, you should know better. Your neighbors up in Andover drove that model off a cliff years ago.
Then again, what do I know. I make panini, coffee and cannoli fillings for a living. I just don't see major players in the financial arena being impressed that a company known for VoIP is now running their industry conferences. Not saying pulvermedia can't succed, I just don't understand the move. It doesn't track.
August 16, 2006
UK Follows US Lead, Cancels It's Major Gaming Show
Disintermediation, baby. Lots of ways to meet the market on the market's terms w/o spending on booths (or booth babes, as the case may be).
Btw, loved the IAEM response to E3's recent downsizing as published in the August 7 IAEM News & Industry Report (members only). Yes, that was a grand argument about video gaming being only a segment of the "Sports, Travel, Entertainment, Art and Consumer Services" sector as defined by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)," thus not indicative of a trend in trade shows in general.
Who said it was? Nobody would think so. At least not until they hear IAEM's argument... then red flags about show expenditures might start popping up.
But IAEM's argument in defense of large shows only went South from there...
"The CEIR Sports and Games sector is the largest sub-sector of the entertainment industry. The hottest sub-sector in entertainment was video and computer games in 2004, and that is expected to continue on a strong growth path."
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' "Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2005-2009," online games will surpass PC games to become the second-largest category in 2006 and will reach $3.8 billion in 2009, representing a CAGR of 42.2 percent. Wireless games will be the fastest-growing sector, reaching $2.1 billion in 2009, growing at a 49.3 percent CAGR."
And what does any of the above have to do with trade shows? Nothing. Industries can grow as large as they'd like without the need for a big industry event.
This is a one-off Mr. Hacker. E3 just wasn't needed. The market said so, despite your prostestations. That doesn't mean the world doesn't need MAGIC or CES or SEMA. It just doesn't need a huge gaming show at the moment.
The market has spoken. Unfortunately, so did IAEM at a time when it might have been best to keep silent instead of proferring a position that holds less water than my kitchen colander.
August 05, 2006
Bowling for Federal Dollars
Seems Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) has a bone to pick with the Pentagon over the types and locations of the conferences staffers attend.
Coburn said the Pentagon sent 36,000 military and civil service employees to 6,600 conferences worldwide last year at an average cost of $2,200 per person. "Of interest is that of those 6,600 conferences, 663 were held in Florida in the middle of the winter; 224 were held in Las Vegas, and 98 in Hawaii," he said.
Half the conferences, Coburn contended, could have been conducted through digital videoconferencing and saved money. "We're in a war. We're having trouble funding the war," he said.
Can't speak to the Florida issue, but having been to Hawai'i, we noticed an awful lot of military installations there, beyond just Pearl Harbor. Seems fair to think that with some 40,000 or so military on the Islands they'd be hosting a few meetings.
Then there's this tidbit at the article's close:
Among the meetings that received Pentagon support last year were the Armed Forces Bowling Conference in Orlando, the Bowling Managers Expo in Las Vegas, the Armed Forces Golf Conference in West Palm Beach, and the Craft and Hobby Association conference in Atlanta, according to the briefing paper.
Who knew the military were such bowling fans.
On the one hand, this is just another story about a politician looking to make some headlines for the folks back home. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be running an event in Florida or any other resort setting this winter that is highly dependent on Federal attendance.
August 01, 2006
Agreeing to Disagree on the Fate of Large Shows
In the wake of the E3 announcement:
This morning Bob Scoble says large shows are dead. 53 people (as of right now) have chimed in with their comments.
It's about split down the middle with half the folks saying large shows are indeed dead - generally because the internet offers alternatives - and the other half saying that the trend applies to tech shows (or only E3) and not mainstream expos.
The arguments in support of both sides are pretty good. Read the comments for yourself.
We can only hope our associations are listening.
June 22, 2006
Maine Man, Clint Pierce
Have some notes to put up on the last morning session from ECEF last week. I had to leave unexpectedly due to a sudden illness immediately after lunch - one that saw me in an ER in Bedford, PA around midnight. All better now. So I wasn't around to blog the afternoon sessions, sorry Mike and Sam.
But before we get to that, for those of you who don't get Event Marketer magazine (and why not?), this month's cover feature was on Pierce Promotions, the Portland, ME, corporate event management company founded by ex-Reed, ex-Diversified ops guru Clint Pierce. Pierce had just won this year's "EX" awards for a campaign his company did for Verizon.
Can't say I'm a close friend, but the couple of years we were both at Reed, we talked a few times. You could sense that Clint was looking for something else, something bigger. A VP ops career was just not going to be enough. Around 1990, Clint left Reed and Connecticut to move to Portland and Diversified and not too long after founded Pierce Promotions. Many of us thought starting an events business in Maine was nuts, but Pierce Promotions is now considered one of the top event management firms nationwide.
Still, despite the obvious business and financial success, perhaps the thing that impresses us most about Clint is that nearing 50, he still has his hair and that Matthew Perry/Chandler sort of carefree, youthful look about him.
It's always great to see quality folks from this industry succeed following a different track than the standard tradeshow management promotion ladder. Especially when they take the risk of opening their own shop and getting it to fly. So congrats Clint, and continued success.
May 16, 2006
Nat'l Restaurant Show Mulling Las Vegas, Forces Changes in McCormick Riggers' Work Rules
As we were saying... Las Vegas can't have everything. But apparently they won't stop trying to get everything. At the minimum they seem to be happy to play the foil for shows looking to use Vegas as leverage to get out of existing agreements.
Which is exactly what the National Restaurant Association appears to be doing. The NRA has threatened to leave Chicago - the show's home for the past 56 years - to go to Las Vegas, a wannabe restaurant town where numerous celebrity chefs have sattelite locations in the city's many casinos (but virtually no standalone restaurants merit a whiff of attention).
The NRA folks wanted new labor rules concerning the number of workers needed to perform certain tasks. It appears they got those breaks with the new contract negotiated with between McCormick Place and the Riggers union.
The contract only affects the riggers union, not the other four unions with convention center workers. It does not address jurisdiction among them.
But Ms. Davis said she hoped it will set a precedent when the decorators union contract expires June 30 and the Teamsters and carpenters unions’ contracts expire in 2008.
The contract follows an agreement announced a year ago that created a Labor Management Council to mediate disputes among exhibitors, McCormick Place officials and unions.
Elements of the contract that could cut costs include:
- Lowering the wage scale on Saturdays from double time to time and a half. Work on Sunday will still be counted at double time.
- Straight time for crews that start work at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. on weekdays. The status quo was shifts beginning only early in the morning.
- Formalizing two-person work crews for most jobs, a standard first established unofficially a year ago, said Eric Dean, administrator of Local 136. Equipment with capacities heavier than 15,000 pounds will still require three-person crews, Ms. Davis said.
- A “call by name” provision that allows contractors or exhibitors to ask for specific workers instead of being forced to take whoever the union sends them.
They are also looking for breaks from hotels and marketing support, which they have not yet received, so leaving remains a possibility.
The article also suggests Chicago lags behind other cities in providing marketing support. We have yet to see any city truly assist in delivering measureable attendee marketing. Have you? If so, let us know some examples.
March 06, 2006
For the Record
I'm hoping y'all understand that just because my name is still the masthead of IAEM's E2 magazine as part of the advisory board, I have nothing to do with the content.
I sort of feel like I'm in an M. Night Shyamalan story... all the case studies and other content ideas I originally had for IAEM keep showing up in EXPO. And I'm not on EXPO's advisory board.
For the longest time I held on to the notion that an association publication would be less likely to suck up to advertisers and partners than would a independent for-profit book. I don't know why I thought that.
December 18, 2005
Librarian Association Climbs to Top of 2005 Stupid Award Nominee List
OK, we don't actually have a "Stupid Awards" over here. It would involve too much research.
But from all we've read and seen in our industry this year, if we did have a Stupid Award for 2005, we could crown the winner right now.
Come and get your award, American Library Association.
The subject of speaker compensation has been getting a bit of heat lately. While we didn't post on it here, we did discuss it in comments sections of other blogs. But it seems to me that Jenny's experience with the ALA is the most egregious we've seen - especially when you consider the ALA's own response.
What are they thinking?