InfoComm MEA: The organiser’s view
MEA: Following its third outing, InfoComm MEA organiser, Richard Tan, gives his opinion on the show, how it went and the organiser’s plans for the future.
How do you feel InfoComm MEA went?
I feel that overall, the outcome of the event was in line with our expectations. InfoComm MEA 2013 attracted a total of 14,770 unique visitors (not including exhibitors), a 23 per cent increase over its 2012 showing.
What reactions did you get from exhibitors?
Generally, most exhibitors felt that they were not just seeing more visitors this year, but that they had met with more high quality visitors that were prospective clients for them. This is reflected in our exhibitor survey results, showing that almost 91 per cent of our exhibitors felt that the quality of the visitors was good, and 83 per cent decided that their participation at the show was worthwhile.
There is still a tendency on the part of exhibitors to compare traffic density with that of Gitex, but this was expected and over time, we are confident exhibitors will come to understand and accept that this comparison is neither meaningful nor helpful.
The intent of the joint venture with Dubai World Trade Centre to co-locate IFMEA with Gitex was so that our show, beyond providing a platform for the pro A/V trade to come and update themselves on new technology, to learn and to network, that it could also provide the technology managers and IT integrators who typically visit Gitex with a collective showcase of A/V communications technology that they otherwise may not find.
Not all visitors to Gitex are relevant to IFMEA, and we work with the Gitex team to identify those that are relevant to the IFMEA exhibitors to invite to the show. Of the 14,770 visitors to IFMEA this year, 13,107 or 89 per cent were visitors that registered to visit Gitex who had an interest in IFMEA as well. And that is a very significant number.
Did you feel the changes you made for this year worked?
Yes, they did. One of our key challenges was the unfortunate location of the IFMEA hall, which is disconnected with the other halls housing the technology exhibitors that attract the IT system integrators, and many of the changes that we made this year was to address this.
One key measure was the extension of the IFMEA hall to cover the second link that allowed unencumbered flow of Gitex visitors from hall 2/3 directly to IFMEA. This made a huge difference compared to the one and only link from hall 1 last year, which was obstructed by the glass fascade and rotating doors and did not help at all with visibility of the IFMEA showcase.
By clearing the concourse outside IFMEA of booths and creating an IFMEA branded area along both our entrances and the concourse, it allowed us to target Gitex visitors through discreet messaging and more importantly, made IFMEA more easily identifiable.
While we received many complaints from visitors last year of difficulty locating IFMEA, this year there was absolutely none. Removing the physical barriers that we had last year at the crossover from Gitex to IFMEA also helped tremendously as it removed a visual impediment that served to turn away many a visitor last year.
Having the e-government sector of Gitex located next to IFMEA also helped to bring more government buyers to the show as many of them were either exhibitors at the government booths or were visiting these booths. And all these additional efforts with branding and signage were supplemented with a dozen ‘fairies’ strategically located at the various Gitex halls and registration areas to remind visitors to visit IFMEA.
We also made changes to the messaging in our promotional materials this year, taking care to highlight the location of IFMEA halls and adopting a simple and explicit message of ‘Audio. Video. Integration.’ for Gitex visitors that may not yet understand what IFMEA is about.
What did you think about some people taking stands in Gitex as well as or instead of InfoComm MEA?
There are some exhibitors that have taken stands at Gitex because they needed to exhibit both their B2C and B2B products, and so we understand that they may not have the resources to take stands in both IFMEA and Gitex to showcase them separately. Over time, as each of these sectors grow in importance to them, they will re-evaluate their decisions on whether to have a presence at one show or the other, or both.
There are also exhibitors who want to meet with more of the IT integrators visiting Gitex who may not have yet come to discover IFMEA and some have decided on a strategy of having a principle booth at one show and a distributor booth at the other, depending on where their priorities lie. I think this works well for the interim period before IFMEA becomes better known to all these IT integrators and more of them start to visit our show.
Many of our exhibitors have expressed to us that they understand it will take time for the InfoComm brand to become better known to the IT community, which will result in increased visits to IFMEA, and they will continue to stand by us and support the growth of a show that they deem to be needed in this market. It was for this reason that we brought an InfoComm show to Dubai in the first place, and we truly appreciate that these exhibitors continue to support us as we make every effort to grow our presence in this region. More importantly, these exhibitors are demonstrating to the A/V integrators, installers and users that they are willing to support the growth of this market as a collective community and they deserve to have their support in return.
What improvements are you looking to make for next year?
There are a few areas of improvements that we are looking to make for next year. Education is one of them. While attendance at our Summit education classes have improved significantly from last year, in part due to building our own classrooms inside the IFMEA hall, we need to look at how to create more interest among visitors in classroom learning through more enticing curriculum and collaborative discussions.
We are also still trying to work out a solution that will allow us to have a three-day show instead of five, which we feel is more suited to this market. We almost achieved this objective in 2012 but faced security and logistical issues that we could not find mutually acceptable solutions to.
And of course, we intend to expand on our efforts to create a better identity for IFMEA as a complimentary yet distinct show in the midst of Gitex.