Four Tips to Get the Most from InfoComm

InfoComm is in less than two weeks. That sentence used to have a completely different meaning for me when I was a technology manager. It meant a week out of the office, networking with colleagues, evaluating potential audiovisual solutions and products, and enjoying the over-the-top-there’s-no-way-I’d-ever-use-this technology (for instance, as a university technology manager I didn’t need a 200-inch 4K display, but why not just look at it for a little while).

This year, “InfoComm is in less than two weeks” means something drastically different. Now that I’ve transitioned to the other side of the fence, and work for a leading audiovisual manufacturer, “InfoComm is in less than two weeks” means “oh goodness, we have so much to do in such a short time” (at least for me).

There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into every tradeshow from a manufacturer’s standpoint. Not only are the booths and exhibits updated from show to show (hopefully), but there are often separate marketing campaigns, endless logistics meetings, preparing and scheduling meetings with dealers, representatives and partners, and the list goes on and on.

With all the work that goes into the show, from a manufacturer’s standpoint it’s incredible to see the ever-increasing crowd sizes and higher degree of engagement from customers year over year. Here are a few things, from my point of view, that can help you maximize your time at InfoComm and maximize the return on investment of your trip.

1. Don’t forsake the little booths: There’s an old adage “good things come in small packages;” the audiovisual industry is no exception to that rule. Yes, the big booths are fun, and usually filled with a lot of awesome technology that you’re going to want to see, but sometimes the best technology, or the one product/service that could fill a niche application for you can be found in the smaller booths. There have been several gems I’ve found in the smaller booths, off the beaten path.

2. Don’t waste your time: Big booths are awesome, obviously. Manufacturers don’t have mega booths without having something terrific to showcase (with the noted exception of Microsoft’s booth at InfoComm 2014). The downside—if there is one—to large booths is the large amount of time it takes to work through the booth. Last year I wanted to take an up-close look at the Crestron DMPS 300, and a touchpanel because I was close to wrapping up the design for a large project I was working on. Before I knew it, I was in a 75-minute booth tour, approximately 60 minutes more than I wanted to spend. Be wary of the big booths, as you can quickly spend more time than budgeted admiring their wonderful technology.

3. Come prepared: One of the best ways to avoid wasting time is to come to InfoComm with a plan. Certainly leave yourself room to explore, but have an idea of which booths you really want to see, which products you’re really interested in—take a look at them on day one, and if you want to know more, schedule a follow-up meeting on the last day with your sales rep or with an engineer.

4. Take advantage of available resources: It’s very difficult to visit every booth; in fact, for one person it might be impossible. Last year I visited somewhere between 70–90 booths, and feel like I barely scraped the surface. So let me point you in some directions for great resources:

  • Tired/Thirsty/Hungry: Stop by and visit your favorite manufacturer’s booth that has coffee, water, soda, or beer to grab a refreshment while learning more about a product you’re really interested in. Some even have massage chairs, so enjoy that.
  • Need more info:Not every manufacturer will have the answer to every question you might want to ask. Be happy to let the manufacturer scan your badge. Yes, you’ll get an uptick in your inbox, but you’ll be able to follow up on some products you’ve seen. Besides, you can always unsubscribe later.
  • Read, read, and read some more: There will be fantastic audiovisual professionals and journalists alike covering the show. From daily print editions, to dozens of blogs/tweets/periscopes, etc., there will be a wealth of information at your fingertips. Take advantage of what fellow AV pros are on too. I’ve saved myself tons of time over the years by reading blogs/tweets to know which booths to visit and which ones to pass on.

InfoComm is in less than two weeks. Are you ready and excited? I sure am.

Mike Brandes is a former university technology manager and currently an applications engineer for a leading AV manufacturer. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBrandesAV or his personal blog