May 13, 2008
Specialty Coffee Association Conference - Coming Around to the Benefits of Social Networking
Some new posts are forthcoming...
I was at the SCAA convention in Minneapolis last week as both a technical judge for the barista competition and a trade show attendee. But as good as attending both events were, the thing that blew me away most about being there was sitting in the lobby during the barista competitions.
The reason was that there was live video blogging of the competitions. With a real-time chat screen. This was the first time either was attempted at this event (last year's even had some time delayed video, but no interaction). The live video/chat enabled family, friends, colleagues, fellow baristas and coffee growers whose beans were being represented from around the globe as well as curious folks like me to witness the competition with close up camera work while engaging in ongoing conversation as it was happening.
In many ways watching the competition remotely was preferable to taking a seat in the bleachers and watching in person (very little talking inside (kinda rude to do so), poor sight lines, hard to see the details that mattered for scoring).
There was also a conference blog that included video interviews from the show floor, some session reviews and even some light entertainment.
I'm going to post a few things about this event as more information is made available on specifics of how it was done and what the Association hopes to acheive with ongoing social networking initiatives. The dynamics are pretty interesting as several members of the production team themselves are coffee industry bloggers who put their own content aside temporarily to write and produce for the benefit of the Association and its members and prospective members.
All in all quite interesting to see what a mainstream event (non-tech) can do vis a vis live real-time production. And that the Association in question did not have a prior reputation for innovation. Now it does. The feedback from those in the barista community has been overwhelmingly positive. The question is, how to measure the value of what was just achieved and how to interpret those results going forward.
June 29, 2007
Spoke this morning at NACS in Milwaukee on how consumer shows can benefit from deploying/employing Web 2.0 technologies. It wasn't the biggest audience - 15 hardy folks - but they were a great audience and fun to work with throughout the presentation.
We covered blogs of course, but spend more time on Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and MySpace while offering suggestions on how to harness both the technologies and the opinion leaders and their followers who use these applications.
This was the first time I'd been at an NACS event. The difference in speaking here vs. speaking at IAEM or SISO or MPI was astounding. People here wanted to understand the technologies and philosophies as it applied to them being able to build their attendee audience - especially among the under-30 crowd. It was not about immediately monetizing everything as seems the case with other meetings industry events where I've presented.
The session almost didn't happen. First, my flight in was 40 minutes late, so I arrived at the Midwest Airlines Center with about 50 minutes to spare. Still, plenty of time to make sure everything is ready to go...
Except that I had brought my new Powerbook (and I'd advised the NACS folks I was doing so) and the techs did not have the proper connection cables to link the Powerbook to the projector. Which meant I couldn't present off my Mac.
Luckily the conference manager wasn't using her laptop and had enough space on a thumbdrive so I could move everything to Windows. Except the videos, which were in .MOV format. We were forced to watch those off my 13" Powerbook screen, but everyone got the point and working off the two platforms lent a bit of old-fashioned charm to the proceedings.
As a couple of the folks in my session are on the conference commitee, I heard I might even be invited to San Diego for NACS '08 to talk more about Web 2.0. And not for a breakout session.
We love San Diego ;-)
May 07, 2007
A Glimmer of Hope for General IT Shows? CeBIT Australia Turns First Profit
Five years of losses or B/E before seeing a return. How many US-organized and owned shows would stick with an event like that? I don't know of any.
Whether it was worth it to Hannover Fairs to wait five years for CeBIT Australia to get into the black, only they can say. But, that a general IT event is showing a growth pattern in an industrialized, English-speaking nation is certainly news worth sharing.
Dare we suggest it's time for the return of Comdex in the US?
April 19, 2007
Live Nude Girls In Aisle 6000
Was going to put an NSFW tag on a link, but figured I'd just post the photo. After all, it's "art", isn't it?
Here's all you need to know:
1) It's at Coverings.
2) It's part of an Pakistani marble exhibit. (I originally thought it had to be Italian... and am very surprised it's not)
3) According to executives at NTP, not a single complaint was lodged by either attendees or exhibitors.
One has to wonder what the Taliban thinks...
To the guys from the natural stone forums who were complaining about the show's move from Orlando to Chicago... see what you missed ;-)
February 08, 2007
A Belated Happy New Year. Our Resolution: Get Relevant Again
Before I get started, wanted to thank those of you who took the time to vote and/or forward the ballot for Best Coffeehouse in Pittsburgh on AOL CityGuide. We finished second (actually we won according to the rules, but AOL changed the rules... however, that's another story for another blog.)
I had planned on revisiting the TSMR blog and re-thinking it for the new market dynamic of smaller, more targeted events. I've been slowly rebuilding my marketing business, taking a bit more time off from the coffeehouse to do so. Been looking for copy work while I bone up on numerous applications I plan on working with later this year in an effort to provide a reasonable copy/design alternative for small conferences.
The "new' TSMR will be a work in progress in that regard as I try to shed a lot of my "big show" baggage in order to focus on noteworthy smaller events and marketing tactics they use. Hopefully the result will be something any bootstrapper can look at and apply on their own event(s).
It's been a very rough two months going without my own computer. My trusty ThinkPad (purchased December 2002) bit the big one, thanks to being picked up by the screen, which partly separated from the body and somehow resulted in its inability to take a charge (after just spending $190 back in Sept. for a new battery, too).
Given it was going to take about $650 to repair the ThinkPad and Vista was on the verge of being released, I decided to hold off purchasing a new laptop while waiting until the new Vista machines were released. Meantime, I read a large number of reviews of Vista and the various laptops that would run it.
All that Vista research resulted in my buying a MacBook this evening (the black one with 120GB, to which I added an extra 1g of RAM). By this time next week I'll be back online every day. And much cooler, too, from what I hear.
In the meantime, I missed out on a story I really wanted to get into. The most fun thing each New Year is knowing that out of the gate you get to report on CES. There's never been a mega-event that's had it more together than CES.
But this year was different. The big news at CES wasn't in Las Vegas. The big news that week was in San Francisco. It was emanating from MacWorld - the iPhone. Yet everyone in Vegas was talking about it.
And despite any protestations that might be spewed from Dallas, what Steve Jobs did during the week of MacWorld/CES is exactly what's right with the world.
That MacWorld has run across virtually the same dates as CES for so long has always seemed to me to be one part rebellious/one part opportunistic/one part dumb. Mac junkies always ferreted out news from the show, but for the rest of the electronics-consuming public, the noise from CES Vegas drowned out everything else.
Not so with the iPhone. It was big enough to be carried on every network news show. Investors took notice. It was a big BIG deal even though every analyst cautioned that Apple would never have more than a miniscule share of the market for phones.
But what of CES? Certainly things must have been announced there that are earthshaking, no? That's where the big trends in electronics are every year, right?
OK, then. Name one thing announced at CES of similar impact. No fair Googling.
Two things happened that week in January:
1) MacWorld proved once and for all it isn't just for Mac nerds anymore.
2) CES lost its place on the pedestal after a half dozen years as the logical successor to Comdex. It's not going to just disappear like Comdex did, but Jobs saw to it that CES is just a little less relevant (sorry Dan).
If you don't believe me on this, check back next year.
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.
July 30, 2006
Another Once-Mighty Show Implodes? Game Over for E3?
Seems the scuttlebutt on E3 is that exhibitors are pulling out, and that the show is going to condense to a no-exhibit-floor meeting-room-only affair, attracting only serious buyers.
For the record, E3 sold out its exhibits for 2006 - 540,000 sf in five halls of the LA Convention Center.
Things happen quickly, don't they?
Of course, this also begs the question, what will the E3 Girls do next?
UPDATE: Tim took the time to Digg this news - which turned up comments suggesting the original Next-Generation report might be a crock. Anyway, E3 has posted dates for next year, but no indication of having a regular show or a smaller one - although we'll note that in 2006 the combined conference/show went four days, not three. There's nothing on organizer ESA's site regarding this - but this might be a good time for them to speak up.
UPDATE #2: OK, it's true. E3 is going smaller - perhaps because the big four (Nintendo, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Sony) acted together or independently and warned show management they would not be back. Rather than face the embarrassment of a Comdex/PC Expo/Internet World death spiral, ESA did its own preemptive strike.
What's it mean for other large shows? Maybe not a thing right now. Many non-tech events haven't experienced the disintermediation/market disruption that the tech shows have. Plus, there's an age/generational factor.
But when attendees at those shows begin doing those things, you'll see dramatic change in those events, too. And very quickly.