In considering what makes for a truly “excellent” trade show, AVIXA CEO David Labuskes is not necessarily concerned with throngs of attendees clamoring to see the next big product in AV. For him, it’s more about the community of the AV industry.
“If I close my eyes and I think about the moments of excellence that I've experienced at AVIXA events around the world, none of them are dependent upon tens of thousands of people; they were all based on one-on-one interactions with amazing people. That is what InfoComm is,” he said. “Giving an award to somebody who has committed to the industry for their entire life, or meeting a young student asking me about my job—that is what excellence is.”
And beyond the social connections that enrich a typical trade show experience, in-person events such as InfoComm offer an unparalleled opportunity for professional development, as well as for forging new business partnerships.
“I am certain that you know somebody who found a job at InfoComm sometime in the last 15 or 20 years. I personally know of businesses that exhibited across the aisle from one another—that later executed a merger and went forth to be even stronger than they were before. Those conversations started in an aisle at InfoComm, and those will all take place again this year,” Labuskes said.
The myriad advantages of an in-person show have perhaps never been more apparent than in 2021—almost two years after many in the industry last saw each other face-to-face. And so, on the heels of NAB’s recent cancellation and Enterprise Connect shifting to a virtual-only format, Labuskes made it clear that InfoComm will be pressing ahead in Orlando. Safety precautions will include mandatory masking as well as proof of either a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination. In addition to AVIXA staff, InfoComm exhibitors and attendees, Orange County Convention Center Guidelines require all convention center employees in public facing positions to be fully vaccinated and follow InfoComm mask guidelines.
“We've put in place the appropriate health and safety guidelines to encourage a culture of maturity and safety at InfoComm. The statistics continue to improve with regards to COVID-19 as vaccination rates rise in Orange County.” He continued, “I think we should each be evaluating: What is the risk? Is it reasonable? And based on those questions, we should be making our own personal decisions about attendance.”
Regarding companies that have chosen to restructure their presence at InfoComm or withdraw from the show entirely, Labuskes cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“Rumors can be dangerous,” he emphasized. “When we have cancellation notice from an exhibitor, we update the show map. We don't put a gray box saying, ‘Hey, Acme Manufacturing called to check on our vaccine protocols.’ That's not the case. When people are in the show, they're on the floor plan; when people are out of the show, they're off the floor plan.”
Labuskes pointed out that for many smaller manufacturers, this venue is vital for displaying new products and connecting with potential customers.
“What most people don't always consider is that shows like this are even more important for the emerging and evolving brands,” he said. “Some of the most established brands have the ability to continue that presence or reinforce that presence through multiple channels, and so they have less dependence on an event like this. That said, those brands are just as committed to this event and to this industry as the others.”
Pandemic-related challenges aside, Labuskes is looking forward to welcoming newcomers and familiar faces alike in October.
“People want to connect. We need to tell stories. We need to share what we’ve learned. I don’t think I’m alone in that.” He continued, “Yes, it is about commerce, but it is also about community. I think part of the magic of the AV industry is we don't have to choose.”
For an up-to-date look at the companies exhibiting at InfoComm, check out the floor plan here.