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Planning Your In-Person InfoComm 2021 Experience

Attendees enter InfoComm 2019
It’s been more than 16 months since AV professionals gathered in person to meet at an InfoComm show. (Image credit: Future)

It’s been more than 16 months since AV professionals gathered in person to meet at an InfoComm show. Some of us haven’t missed a show in 10, 15, or even 20 years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we were all forced to skip a year.

Well, good news, #AVTweeps, InfoComm is back! AV professionals are set to gather in Orlando, FL, Oct. 23–29 for the show’s return. We spoke with AV professionals to get their take on the show. Here’s what they had to say.

Javid Wahid, Director of IT, Spinitar

Spinitar's Javid Wahid

Javid Wahid (Image credit: Javid Wahid)

Why I’m All In: This year at InfoComm, I’m looking forward to checking out AV monitoring and analytics solutions.

Show Strategy: As I’m really concentrating on monitoring and analytics, I will also seek out classes focused on those topics.

Tips for Newbies: There will be a lot to see on the show floor—don’t spend too much time in one booth. That way, you can explore all the available options.

[ InfoComm Updates COVID Safety Recommendations, Aug. 26, 2021 ] 

Jeremy Caldera, CTS-D, CTS-I, Senior Vice President, Pearl Technology

Pearl Technology's Jeremy Caldera

Jeremy Caldera (Image credit: Jeremy Caldera)

Why I’m All In: I can’t wait to see the new products and the way technology is evolving in response to the pandemic. And, of course, I’m excited to see colleagues and friends.

Show Strategy: My plan is to spend more time on the show floor this year, and focus on developments from our key manufacturers in order to build on our current offerings.

Tips for Newbies: I tell newbies every year to wear comfortable shoes. Also, spend a little time in the smaller booths on the outskirts of the halls—there is always new and interesting tech there.

Amanda Eberle Boyer, General Manager, AV Chicago

AV Chicago's Amanda Eberle Boyer

Amanda Eberle Boyer (Image credit: Amanda Eberle Boyer)

Why I’m All In: As a former AVIXA staff member, the 2021 show is the first time I will be at the show as an attendee. I will truly get to experience InfoComm in a new way! I cannot wait to meet with industry peers (in person!), hear how they are using new technology and their insights about where our industry going, look at new tech from exhibitors, and be inspired by what others are doing. Innovation and creativity have been catapulted during the pandemic and I cannot wait to see what is coming next!

Show Strategy: I look forward to packing as much as I can into my time at InfoComm. I have started my list of sessions I want to attend and am building a show floor tour for myself so I can make sure I hit all the booths I am interested in. The key with the education sessions is to plan ahead. I must note that I cannot wait for the AVIXA Women’s Council breakfast, a must attend for me.

Tips for Newbies: If AVIXA offers a first timers orientation, try to attend. It’s a great way to meet fellow #AVTweeps who are new to InfoComm, learn the layout of the show floor, and get a good idea of the various events. I would also suggest stopping by the AVIXA booth to connect with their staff—they will also have great tips to share with you. Attending the show is a marathon, not a sprint. Prioritize what is important to you and then build in the rest as you are able.

[ InfoComm 2021 to Feature D=SIGN Conference

Victor Valliere, General Manager, CCS Presentation Systems

CCS Presentation Systems' Victor Valliere

Victor Valliere (Image credit: Victor Valliere)

Why I’m All In: I am looking forward to experiencing the energy generated by live InfoComm events. I’m also excited to reengage in face-to-face networking.

Show Strategy: This year, I will focus on sessions that discuss new market strategies and demonstrate the evolution of new technologies. I typically schedule booth tours throughout the week with key strategic partners.

Tips for Newbies: The biggest piece of advice I can share is to participate. Introduce yourself and enjoy the power of networking.

Mark Peterson, Principal and AV Discipline Lead, SM&W

SM&W's Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson (Image credit: Mark Peterson)

Why I’m All In: This will be the first time in over a year to get my hands on the most recent technology advancements. I am excited to see direct view LED, microphones, speakers, and artificial intelligence built into camera framing, as it’s difficult to evaluate the end user experience over a Zoom call.

Show Strategy: Several of my teammates will be attending sessions to maintain their CTS certifications in parallel to visiting booths. Our strategy for the show floor is to correlate key technologies that are going into our projects, and consider our clients’ interest in the most recent innovations. From there, we will map the most efficient route that brings us to all the relevant manufacturers on the show floor.

Tips for Newbies: The booths can be quite noisy, making it difficult to hear presenters. Get comfortable with raising your hand and saying “I can’t hear” or “I don’t understand.” Everyone around will likely allow you to move forward, or help you understand whatever is confusing.

[ InfoComm 2021 Announces Pro AV Design and Integration Education Program

Hope Roth, Lead Programmer, Riordan Brothers Integration

Riordan Brothers Integration's Hope Roth

Hope Roth (Image credit: Hope Roth)

Why I’m All In: The pandemic led me to reassess my travel schedule, and to make some changes at work so I can be home more for my family. But I’m all in for continuing to attend InfoComm every year. Why? Because it’s my best chance all year to learn from, and enjoy the company of, some of the smartest, most dynamic folks in the industry.

Show Strategy: This year, it’s going to be more important than ever to have a plan ahead of time. I like to make a list of my must-sees and map out where those booths are located. It’s also helpful to have a list of “would-like-to-sees” in case plans get upended and I find myself with extra time on my hands. I’m fortunate to have an education package, which will let me drop in on many of the training sessions; I will still plan my classes out ahead of time. I put everything into my work calendar so I can check it easily, and so I get reminders. You don’t want to miss a meeting or a valuable training because you didn’t realize what time it was.

Tips for Newbies: Pack day clothes and evening clothes, and make sure you have extra shoes. Not because you need to dress for clubbing at night, but because it’s hot and humid and you’ll have been on your feet all day. You’ll feel so much better if you have something fresh and dry to change into. Having two or three pairs of sneakers that you can rotate will give your shoes time to dry out when you’re not wearing them. Your feet will smell better and your shoes will be more comfortable. Resist the urge to wear anything with a heel or a shoe that’s even mildly uncomfortable. Your feet will thank you later.

[ InfoComm Inspo: Exertis

Dave Hatz, Vice President of Technology, RoomReady

RoomReady's Dave Hatz

Dave Hatz (Image credit: Dave Hatz)

Why I’m All In: Relationships are such an important component of being successful in any role. Over the past 18 months, we’ve managed to maintain the relationships through remote collaboration, but I’m excited to get back to in-person events.

Show Strategy: I typically put together a pretty focused agenda of which companies I want to see on the first day. I’ll target medium-sized companies first, saving biggest companies for Day 2—particularly in the afternoon, when everyone else has started to get tired. I try to limit scheduled meetings and formal booth tours on the last day so I have time to walk the entire floor, focusing on the smaller booths. I know a lot of people write off the last day of the show, which works well for me. It’s less busy and I find everyone is more willing to have deeper conversations because there isn’t a line of people waiting to see the new product.

Tips for Newbies: I have three tips for new attendees. First, when you go into the big booths, always ask questions to determine if what they are showing is a real product or a concept. Ask questions about when it will be available and what it will cost. While you likely won’t get direct answers to some or all of those questions, you can read between the lines and make a more educated determination about how long it will be before you can actually order and receive the product.

Second, unless the product is actually shipping, anything you see can change. That can be exciting, and frustrating if you start planning on using a product before it’s ready.

Finally, make sure you take time to walk around and look at the smaller booths. This is where some of the biggest value can be found. Many of these companies do one thing really well, and InfoComm is your best way to get exposed to them.

Tim Albright, Chief Marketing Officer, CTI

CTI's Tim Albright

Tim Albright (Image credit: Future)

Why I’m All In: InfoComm this year is a chance to reconnect, in real life, with all our industry friends and colleagues. Virtual happy hours, chats, and Zooms are fine, but there’s nothing like grabbing a coffee—or a gin and tonic—with a friend and catching up. Being able to see the technology in person is also a huge plus. You can’t really assess the quality of a speaker, new display, or other hardware virtually.

Show Strategy: Education for me takes place on Tuesday. I love the Technology Innovation Stage, and that’s where you’ll find me during lunch. It’s a way to get new and fresh ideas in between interviews. We try to hit the main booths in a grid. Friday is a chance for us to visit the smaller companies in the back. You’ll find some really great ideas in those 10x10s.

Tips for Newbies: My first tip is wear comfortable shoes that are not brand new. Buy those shoes now and sleep in them. Take blister Band-Aids just in case. Finally, pace yourself. Absolutely plan your day out and figure on more time than you’d think at each major booth. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy.

[ AVIXA Commits to Diversity at InfoComm 2021 and Beyond

Rebecca Sullins, CTS-D/CTS-I, Senior Design Engineer, Clair Global Integration

Clair Global Integration's

Rebecca Sullins (Image credit: Rebecca Sullins)

Why I’m All In: I can’t wait to be in person at InfoComm 2021, mostly because of the isolation of the last year. It’s so important to experience technology in person. You can look at specifications all day and all night, but you also need to experience the sound, the immersion, and the feeling of it.

Show Strategy: I always try to avoid overscheduling. You have to leave some flexibility in your day in case you see something that piques your interest. So I always make sure to plan around the very important educational sessions I want to attend, but avoid cramming my schedule so full I can’t stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

Tips for Newbies: The best advice I can give is to be very careful not to get overwhelmed. It’s a huge show with lots of noises and lights. It can be a lot to take in, and it’s really easy to lose yourself. I would recommend picking some large landmarks. Go to the booths of the companies you know and use often. But between those booths, make sure to look around, talk to the smaller manufacturers, and learn about some new technology. Also, make sure to take breaks. After a while on the floor, stop, sit, take a breather, and take in what you’ve seen so far. You can get burned out pretty quickly.

Kris Begnaud, Vice President of Sales, Data Projections

Data Projections' Kris Begnaud

Kris Begnaud (Image credit: Kris Begnaud)

Why I’m All In: InfoComm has been an annual summer tradition in our industry for a long time, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like to spend time in Orlando in late October. I am excited about reconnecting in person with those I’ve known and worked with over the years. InfoComm is the best opportunity in AV to network with manufacturers, colleagues, and customers in one place.

Show Strategy: We plan to send a mix of folks from each of our offices who represent either design or sales to get different perspectives on the latest solutions and technology. For the education sessions, we look for topics that are not only relevant to the technology that we sell, such as networked AV, but those that are related to managing our business, such as “How to Effectively Manage AV Staff.” For either the show floor or the sessions, the goal is to divide those attending and gather as much info as possible to share with the team.

Tips for Newbies: Take advantage of the opportunities in the education sessions and network as much as possible on the show floor and at social events in the evenings. It’s great to meet and learn from folks who likely face the same problems and challenges that you do every day. It is impossible to see everything on the show floor, so narrow down your areas of focus—such as videoconferencing solutions for soft codecs, LED video walls, AV over IP, etc.—and map out what you want to see.

Hailey Klein, Director of Marketing and Communications, PSNI Global Alliance

PSNI Global Alliance's Hailey Klein

Hailey Klein (Image credit: Hailey Klein)

Why I’m All In: I am so thrilled to be able to see all of my AV friends in person at InfoComm 2021. PSNI’s Certified Solution Providers (CSPs) haven’t attended a large tradeshow together since ISE 2020, and I can’t wait until we’re all in the same room at our annual breakfast. We’ve been keeping in touch with virtual events like the PSNI Supersummit, but being together, in person, to network and catch up will make our relationships stronger.

Show Strategy: At this year’s show, I’ll be visiting the booths of PSNI’s Preferred Vendor Partners (PVPs) like Biamp, Kramer, Shure, and more. Ahead of the show, I’ll make appointments with these PVPs according to their booth location to maximize my time on the show floor. My evenings will be spent networking with our PVPs and CSPs at various events.

Tips for Newbies: Hydrate as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes—this may sound basic, but water and a good shoe make a huge difference in how you’ll feel after a long day on the show floor or night out.

Jeff Irvin, Principal, Spinitar

Spinitar's Jeff Irvin

Jeff Irvin (Image credit: Jeff Irvin)

Why I’m All In: I am looking forward to seeing all of our industry friends we haven’t seen for a long time. Relationships are key, and the opportunity to restore/renew those relationships is what I’ll enjoy the most. For instance, the annual PSNI breakfast will bring leaders together from more than 90 CSPs worldwide to talk shop. Where else can you get an opportunity to connect with AV industry leadership other than events like InfoComm?

Show Strategy: I map out who/where/what I want to see well in advance of the show. Walking into the exhibit halls without a plan is terribly inefficient.

Tips for Newbies: While the nightlife is loads of fun, try to build in a little sleep if you can. The days on the floor can be very long!

InfoComm Sneak Peek takes place Sept. 23, 2021

(Image credit: Future)

Join SCN for an Exclusive Preview of InfoComm 2021

At the all-new InfoComm Sneak Peek virtual event—to be held on Thursday, Sept. 23—Systems Contractor News and AVIXA will give the AV industry an inside look at InfoComm 2021.

During the single-day virtual event, attendees will get previews of InfoComm education sessions on topics like digital signage trends, emerging audio solutions, and classrooms of the future. The event will also feature sneak peeks from manufacturers about new products they’ll be launching at InfoComm, in addition to virtual networking opportunities.

InfoComm Sneak Peek is free to attend for qualified integrators, consultants, content creators, technology managers, and the like.

To register or learn more, visit www.infocommsneakpeek.com. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Adam Goldstein at adam.goldstein@futurenet.com.

Free Exhibit Hall Pass

InfoComm is giving our readers a free Exhibit Hall pass to the show! Use VIP Code “FUTURE” to redeem your free pass. Visit www.infocommshow.org to learn more and register.

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.