Major Changes for Montreal & New York Shows

Roy Bird's UK-based Chester Group, which currently produces the New York Audio Show, has announced the acquisition of Montreal's Salon Son et Image. While the show will continue to take place in Montreal's Hilton Bonaventure in late March—March 28–30 in 2014—Sarah Tremblay, former co-producer of Montreal show with her husband, Michel Plante, will join the Chester Group team and assume overall management of both North American shows.

In addition, to avoid 2013's industry-taxing situation of the Montreal, Chicago, and New York shows taking place with only two or three weeks between each, the Chester Group has decided to move the New York show from April to September. Given that a September date was unobtainable at the show's original location, the Palace, the New York show is moving to the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. While the hotel's only available dates for 2014 were September 26–28, which will it uncomfortably close to Denver's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2014 dates of October 12–14, Bird hopes to move New York's dates earlier in September in 2015 to allow at least a month before the two shows. Meanwhile, to make life easier for those who wish to exhibit in both New York and Denver, he is trying to get a good drayage arrangement that will enable equipment to go directly from New York to Colorado.

Bird is quite happy with the arrangement and facilities in Brooklyn. "Given that we've had bad experiences with both hotels we worked with in New York City, and promises made to us were not kept, we've made clear that everything they've promised us is fully inclusive of union services," he told Stereophile. "In addition, the Marriott's converted bedrooms are a very good size—larger than the Palace's."

Asked what prompted his acquisition of Salon Son et Image, he cited what he termed "a chance encounter."

"Whilst I was at the New York Audio show this year," Bird said, "Michel and Sarah popped by. Rather than coffee, we enjoyed a pot of tea together. During our conversation, Michel intimated that he might like to sell the Montreal show to us. And because I say yes to everything, I said yes of course. I was very flattered, and said it was something I'd like to do. Michel had his children with him, and said that since we're both family organizations with a long-term commitment to the industry, he felt that we were very suitable to carry on with a show that's been established for a very long time."

Skyped in Montreal, Plante and Tremblay revealed the motivation for their decision. "Many different companies approached me during the last year, asking me to join their organization," said Plante. "One day, someone offered to enable me to do exactly what I've been doing all along, which is to help the industry grow and help to promote the industry. The offer, from Canadian company PlurisonAudio Plus Services in the US—will enable me to be in touch with hundreds and hundreds of dealers daily, educate them, transmit the passion, and use their marketing funds to better promote the industry. Working with Plurison allows me to influence the market at a faster pace, because I'm in touch with manufacturers and dealers every day of the year."

Once Plante had the offer from Plurison, he and Tremblay sat with the Bird family and suggested that Tremblay not only run the Montreal show, but also work to bring the New York Audio show "to another level." As the conversation progressed, Bird made an offer that the Canadian couple "could not refuse."

"Mostly what I'm doing with the New York show is working on the logistics level, which is our strength in Montreal," said Tremblay. "It's about organizing the show and putting everything together in a snap. You have to make sure that everything works."

The couple asserts that they were neither in bankruptcy or financial trouble, nor bored with the Montreal show. Nor did they feel the need to rethink their strategy.

"Last year, we had a bit less exhibitors than in 2012, but we had 10% more attendees than the year before," says Plante. "The Montreal show has a very unique spirit that we'll try bring to New York. We'll maintain the same good organization, and our young team that provides white glove service will remain the same." To which Tremblay added, "In Montreal, we're not trying to maintain our successful approach; we're keeping it!"

For his part, Bird points out that the Chester Group has been in the business 12 years, and will mount 15 shows in the next two years in New York, Montreal, England, Europe, and Australia.

"We're not speculators," he says. "We genuinely will do everything we can to help the industry, because it's in our own best interest. I've been a show organizer for 35 years, engaging with 10 different industries. Right now, we're concentrating on home entertainment and technology. Our forthcoming New Tech Shows will cover 14 different zones of the industry, and bring in a younger crowd. It's also probable that we'll bring to the U.S. a smaller high-end show, where the venue is picked for sound quality, and they'll let us bring in a system and exhibitors to check the rooms in advance. We're planning long-term, and have the industry 100% in our focus."

RobertSlavin's picture

New York City and its suburbs are heavily Jewish. The Jewish high holidays are in September and sometimes October. In 2014 Rosh Hashanah is on Sept. 26.

The show may lose some visitors on that day to the holiday. Unless it is careful, it may also lose Jews in future years to the high holidays.


Lofty's picture

Brooklyn? OK, I'm still in. Just one more train to take.

Ariel Bitran's picture


Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Without wishing to discount the importance of the show's dates for you or other practicing Jews, or what appears to be your disappointment that the only dates the hotel could offer for 2014 overlap with the Jewish New Year, I wish to point out a few things:

Reality #1: Rosh Hashanah starts Wed. eve, Sept. 24, and ends Fri. eve, Sept. 26. It does not affect two of the show's days. Of course, those who observe the Sabbath wouldn't attend Saturday regardless. But then there's Sunday.

Reality #2: Many of us who were born into Jewish families - my father was a director of our conservative congregation in Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York - do not attend services or observe Jewish holidays in more than a "cultural" manner.

Question #1: How many Jews who might wish to attend the New York show are going to take Friday off from work to attend services?

Question #2: How many who take the day off from work will choose to get the New Year off to a good start by attending the show on its first, slower-than-Saturday day?

Question #3: Pardon my irreverence, but I cannot resist asking how many, knowing they will be atoning for their sins a week later, will head to the show sometime over the weekend with credit card in hand? 

corrective_unconscious's picture

I trust that the room set aside for daily prayers will have _directional_ cables pointing to Mecca to avoid last year's 180 degree confusion and also bookshelf speakers on the floor to get the tweeters closer to kneeling / prostrate ear level.

Thank you.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Dear Corrective Unco,

I don't know you, but I love you.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Yes, those who do not are usually most likely to feel that thanks a lot.

You and others might genuinely enjoy a just beginning youtube series under channel "Soul Pancake," I believe, on religion. In the first installment the presiding comic vists a mosque for a tour and discussion with the youth leader and for prayers. The nine minute piece is actually quite gentle, but assuredly not without humor.

This youth leader, anyway, says that daily prayers are not so compulsory that one should ever stress out about them. I certainly did not know that.


Do urls show up here?


youtube dot com and then: /watch?v=8irL7tDORXY&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLzvRx_johoA_Zhuo_pRsWSbARe2IZ2XZJ