Tradeshow Season Is Here

InfoComm 2019 Show Floor
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We’ve hardly put a dent in the new year and tradeshow season has already begun. Our team just got back from a whirlwind CES—thousands of steps logged, gallons of water drunk, and dozens of pieces written. Now we’re back in the office, prepping for ISE 2020, and getting ready to do it all over again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

As I write this, we have exactly 23 days until Amsterdam’s RAI opens its doors to ISE attendees for the last time—starting in 2021, Barcelona becomes ISE’s annual tradeshow home. My inbox is full of press releases, Twitter is filled with preshow chatter, and everyone is busy planning their schedules. After ISE, there’s NAB Show, DSE, tons of mini-conferences, and then InfoComm, the grand finale of the spring tradeshow season.

The annual start of tradeshow season leads to the inevitable conversation: do we have to? It’s not only members of the media who dread the effort; some manufacturers are still on the fence about whether these events are the best use of their time and money. In fact, some manufacturers have created their own experience centers, essentially bringing in the customers they want when they want, and have completely left the world of tradeshows behind. And attendees still have to prove the return on opportunity to the bosses who are approving their attendance (and the expense of said attendance). 

Is attending these in-person events imperative today in the same way it was in the pre-internet/pre-videochat age?

As someone who has attended shows in the past as both exhibitor and attendee, I can tell you that it is, in fact, worth it to have a presence at tradeshows. From the exhibitor point of view, where else can you spend time with all of these integrators and consultants with your key products in full demo mode? Plus, you never know when you’ll snag that white whale with the billion-dollar project. It could be at the next event ... or the one after that.

For attendees, it’s one big multitasking trip. Need to catch up on those CTS credits? You can do it ... and then some. ISE, for example, has over 200 experts speaking at this year’s event. We’ve detailed it all in our special ISE report, which starts on page 36. Want to see all of the latest innovations in one place so you don’t have to make 12 different trips to the manufacturers? Yep, that’s there, too. (Follow along online at for real-time reports on the latest product releases.) 

Last, but certainly not least, shows like ISE give you the chance to network with your peers. You can brainstorm with your friends about your latest challenge because, odds are, someone else has faced a similar problem and figured out how to conquer it. Or you can make totally new connections and start your global network.

Any way you look at it, the majority of us will be at a tradeshow (or five) sometime this spring. Wear comfortable shoes, drink lots of water, post some #AVSelfies, and have plenty of fun. I’ll see you on the show floor.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.