LAS VEGAS, NV-Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, this year's InfoComm International exhibition in Las Vegas was a much-needed breath of fresh air. More than 34,000 attendees had registered for the show halfway through its third and last day, and that figure, together with a record 988 exhibitors, made it comfortably the largest pro-AV tradeshow in history.
Few commentators would argue that the professional AV business in North America is growing at a fantastic rate. Yet InfoComm continues to expand in almost every area of its activity, defiantly shaking off any fears of a slowdown.
"We are certainly bucking the trend in the U.S. tradeshow industry," Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., executive director, InfoComm International, told SCN in Las Vegas. "We had a record 231 new exhibitors, in excess of 500,000 net square feet of exhibit space, and an overall attendance that was nearly 10 percent up on 2007."
How did they do it? Well, absorbing NSCA's Systems Integration Expo helped. Lemke estimates that around 60 new exhibitors came directly as a result of the merger.
But there has to be more to it than that, and much of InfoComm's continued vibrancy must be down to the association's ability to come up with new education and networking opportunities which, while enhancing the tradeshow's appeal, also target specific growth areas in a way that increases their relevance to the commercial AV mainstream.
The crystal ball-gazing Projection Summit, for example, drew 330 registrants compared with 250 last year, while an all-new Digital Signage Conference attracted 145. In total, there were 8,606 registrations for education programs-a figure that includes courses co-organized by InfoComm and NSCA, but not those hosted solely by the latter.
"We introduced new courses and exhibitors this year to address the demand for digital signage, audio, and telepresence technology, as well as high-definition products, lighting and staging, and more," added Lemke. "As a component of the show, digital signage virtually doubled in size compared with 2007."
Finally, this remains a truly international event-despite InfoComm's involvement with the ISE series of shows in Europe and the Middle East, and with its own ever-broadening range of events in China, India, and beyond. Las Vegas hosted 30 international delegations, up from 18 in Anaheim last year.
Where do we go from here? The answer is probably anywhere-and everywhere.