Too Many Audio Shows? Stephen Davis, AXPONA

A Response from Stephen Davis, AXPONA

"Too many shows?" This is an interesting observation that I can address from several perspectives. As a past brick and mortar retailer, distributor and consultant with over 35 years' experience in this industry, you can imagine I've seen my share of shows. I've attended CES since the early 1980s and worked in the industry since the middle 1970s.

Past companies I've helped develop have displayed at CES, CEDIA, RMAF, Montreal and the Stereophile Shows of past.

I've also attended shows in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and all around the US. As a distributor our company occupied seven rooms one year at CES and knows all too well the challenges presented at shows.

One of the biggest pitfalls of shows is the lack of financial return as compared to the expense of the event. The goal of AXPONA is to produce a cost effect, meaningful and exciting event that delivers sales and opportunities for manufacturers and dealers while maintaining this cost effective approach. We lend our expertise in any way possible to help each exhibitor achieve the very best results. Below is a letter from a Chicago dealer returning to AXPONA 2014. Quintessence Audio displayed in 2 rooms at AXPONA 2013.

Hello Steve,

Yes absolutely want to reserve the 4 rooms for next years AXPONA.

The response has easily exceeded my expectations. We have experienced new traffic and sales that can only be attributed to the exposure that we received at this years Expo.

We have reinforced our relationship with previous customers that saw us at AXPONA.

I can say without hesitation that we have seen a big bump in sales across the board, in a season that usually sees a slow down. Thank you again for bringing this show to Chicago and I can't wait to trump our display this year with an even more exciting AXPONA 2014.

Best Regards,
Mick Survance, Quintessence Audio

The real question or discussion here should not be too many shows, instead why not "What is the right number and type of show for the U.S market"?

One thing we notice in this article is that it also includes shows other than those in the US. Being a US-based company, trying to promote our exhibitors and entertain our attendees; I feel this needs separate consideration. Although many of the same brands may appear at these events they are marketed to a different group of dealers through companies (distributors) that primarily operate only in their respective countries. They draw a different cross section of attendee and few from the US. Again, I think this should not be mixed into the question that I believe is "What is the right number and type of show for the US market"?

Again I go to cost effectiveness as the major consideration necessary for solid participation. Secondly, I believe that it is imperative that the show is well supported by local dealers. This lowers the cost to the manufacturers, when working with their local dealers, and increases product visibility well beyond the actual event.

AXPONA was the first company to offer a new event in the US upon the disappearance of the Stereophile Show in 2007. We will produce our sixth event next April in Chicago. With the success of this year's event, also in Chicago, AXPONA has found one of its permanent homes in this great city. With the support of over 30 dealers and 400+ manufacturers, and still growing, AXPONA believes there are not too many audio shows like ours. In addition to the regular three days of exhibits AXPONA 2014 will offer a new innovation to promote product awareness between the displaying manufacturers and dealers. As a past retailer, and distributor, what I see as one of the real problems with today's shows is that there is simply no time for interaction, and business, between the suppliers and the dealers. With the addition of the Manufacturer/Dealer Meeting and Banquet, it will offer a one-to-one interface that will greatly improve the awareness of product availability. It will also give access to quality dealers, from not only the Chicago market, but also all around the US. About half of the dealers displaying at AXPONA are from other cities and states, as well as those local to Chicago.

From John Atkinson's article: But as Robert Deutsch pointed out, if you add to the cost of the exhibit space the costs of shipping, transportation, hotel rooms, meals, and staff, participating in shows is an expensive endeavor. "The benefits," he wrote, "in terms of additional business, while real, are difficult to measure."

This statement could be true in some cases but as it pertains to local dealers these costs can be minimal. Most local merchants generally commute, don't necessarily have to purchase meals, use product from their stores, or in conjunction with the` manufacturers and in most cases this product stays with the dealer after the event. They also work with staff already on the payroll. AXPONA offers very inexpensive logistics for local carriage, which includes drayage. Many exhibitors bring the equipment themselves. I believe a high quality and well-organized show offers the most cost effective marketing available for today's dealers and manufacturers.

A Comment On The Numbers
"By contrast, the modern shows are smaller, regional events. Looking at the spring shows, the Chicago AXPONA was the largest, with 86 rooms and 264 exhibiting brands..." write John Atkinson.

AXPONA also had 30 booth displays with over 70 tables. The number of brands present was easily 400(+), as many of the exhibitors did not take advantage of listing their products. For example, AAudio Imports listed his company name but no product listings even though he displayed a sizable number of brands at his exhibit.

With current commitments for 2014 we expect to reach 120–150 exhibit rooms, 40—50 booth displays covering over 100 tables and as many as 500–600 manufacturers. Many of our exhibitors are coming from other countries including those in Europe, Asia, Japan and others. North American companies do make up the largest volume of exhibit space at AXPONA events.

I believe this qualifies AXPONA as a national, and even an international event, not necessarily a regional one.

In conclusion
My response is that the cream always rises to the top and the answer to the question "Too Many Audio Shows?" will be reflected by this old adage.

AXPONA exists to help our industry grow and prosper. As the owner of AXPONA my entire working life has never been anything but high quality audio and the pleasure that comes from seeing someone react to a great piece of music on a great system, myself included.

What makes a great show and is needed for longevity (in our opinion)

1: Location–near a good international hub airport and ease of transport to the hosting facility
2: Location–near public transportation and good parking (for exhibitors and attendees)
3: Quality exhibit space that fits the need of exhibitors, not just exhibit space for sale
4: Well-organized logistics at a reasonable price
5: Timely correspondence with exhibitors and always maintain good communication
6: Reasonable rates for sleeping rooms
7: Reasonable rates for exhibit space
8: A large contingency of press covering the event.
9: A serious amount of local awareness built through the proper type of media and advertising.
10: With the above-mentioned items in mind, combined with the right city, marketing partners and sponsors, shows can flourish and be very important for the future of Audio and Music.

Thank you for allowing AXPONA to share some thoughts on the current state of Audio Shows. Although it appears there may be "Too Many Audio Shows" I do believe some are of major benefit to the industry in a very difficult time. I hope our event is among those helping in some meaningful way.

See you at AXPONA 2014 —The Westin O'Hare, April 23–27.—Stephen Davis, Audio Expo North America LLC/AXPONA

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