News and Thoughts:
Another successful InfoComm and for the first time I think the event was more important than the sum of its parts. There just seemed to be a different vibe on the floor. I found that the exhibit booths were better looking and communicated their purpose better than in years past. There was clearly some budget cutting in play, but I think the net result was less fluff and more products. There was also a LOT of new products something I didnt expect to see. And folks in general were positive about the future (at least for the next quarter). Maybe all the hype about the economy is just so much noise? Read more about what was seen and heard at InfoComm in The Stimson Report.
The biggest Rental & Staging NEWS at InfoComm 08 was Barcos acquisition of High End Systems just prior to the show for $55 million. It got some buzz and a good chunk of the Barco booth where Barcos DML was shown next to HESs latest products. However, the biggest TREND seen at the show was how many Rental & Stagers were there compared to last year. I was pleased to see a lot of familiar faces at the Rental & Staging Forum and Reception. Even more exciting were all the new people there. I had the pleasure of meeting several first-timers to the show. When I asked why they were there most cited the need to network. I also spoke to a lot of folks who wanted to become more involved in InfoComm. There are a lot of excellent new programs going on including Certification and Standards both of which will help drive education efforts. While this years show was a little thin on Rental & Staging education, but the quality of what was there was definitely up as was attendance.
In my seminar Rental & Staging Business Survival Kit, 18 out of the 100 registered attendees were from overseas including Ireland, India, Argentina, UAE, Uruguay, Panama, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Colombia, and South Africa. I cant tell you how many times I heard we dont have anything like this where I come from. I look forward to the day when I can chat with a hotel AV Tech in India that is CTS Certified and understands the same as I do that AV for meetings is mission-critical.
One interesting takeaway from the show floor was the ho-hum about projection. Even with a whole new line of Christie mercury chip projectors and more cutting-edge Titan products from Digital Projection it was Barco that stole the show with of all things, a video switcher! What I wonder is do projection manufacturers of R&S products need a bigger hook to capture customers? We have certainly seen this phenomenon in the wholesale rental markets with one, giant turnkey provider and several smaller companies with narrow product lines. I would be totally impressed if the next killer product for staging came from a projection company and was NOT a projector. Will it be a media server/content management system or perhaps a scalable routing and distribution system with projector and display management built-in?
Best Widget at InfoComm
At InfoComm I stopped by Drape Kings booth and visited with owner Dru Whitacre. I asked him what was new and exciting in his world and he showed me the Skirt Clamp. This is an ingenious device for attached a horizontal drape rod to the middle of a vertical drape pole. For everyone that is fretting over the migration to 16:9 formats, here is a great solution to owning a bunch of new screens and dress kits. For more information, check out the website: www.drapekings.com
Best First-time Exhibitor at InfoComm
StageGear manufactures road cases unlike any other I have seen. (Their booth had the Mini Cooper on top of four cable trunks.) What I liked about their products was the extreme attention to detail. The first thing I noticed was that ALL the hardware was recessed preserving the truck pack dimensions of their product and reducing potential for damage to and from the case. They use beeswax on their wooden drawer runners instead of space sapping and breakable mechanical slides. The workmanship was awesome. These folks were new to the show and a little surprised at the potential business that the Rental & Staging community represents. Check out their cool website www.stagegear.com/home.htm.
Check out this group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2394579991
Its called Dodgy Technicians, and yes its about really bad stuff happening on shows. You will be immediately drawn to the thousands of photos of staging done badly. But, take a spin through the discussion groups and read some of the LOL stories and anecdotes. Oftentimes the offender is the poster I wonder if they are atoning for their sins or just another techie that doesnt get it? Either way, there is hours of fun here. Thanks to Matt Baehr of InfoComm for sharing this with me.
More Online Fun
InfoComm is taking a step closer to being a true AV family with the introduction of InfoComm Community at community.infocomm.org. This web presence is in its embryonic stage, but nows a great time to get involved and be one of the first to create a home for your special interests.
I have entered my profile and even started a blog. You can read it at: community.infocomm.org/INFOCOMM/INFOCOMM/Directory/BlogViewer/Default.aspx?BlogKey=acef0bdb-a70e-4473-91bc-287e92e42f97.
The Rental & Staging Roadshow is coming back to Yonkers, NY and the friendly folks at Altman Rentals are once again our hosts. I will be presenting my keynote on The One Trend That Really Matters and a seminar based on my InfoComm course The Rental & Staging Business Survival Kit. Of course there are some great exhibitors and training courses on Lighting and Project Management. Learn more at www.rentalandstaging.com/roadshow/.