As InfoComm 2018 lands in Las Vegas next week, pro audio exhibitors explain why it's such a crucial show for the industry.

Las Vegas, NV (May 30, 2018)—For most of the country, June brings to mind the start of summer and kids getting out of school. For the pro AV industry, however, this month means it’s time to head to InfoComm. Held this year June 6-8, InfoComm will welcome 44,000 attendees from 110 countries as they hit the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center to discover an estimated 10,000-plus products presented by 1,000 exhibitors.

Those thousands of attendees come from all across the AV space. “Over the past few years, we’ve noticed that there’s also a higher number of end users and IT professionals at InfoComm,” said Chris Merrick, director of global marketing for Integrated Systems at Shure (Booth 1366). “For an end user, it’s valuable to be able to source and discover practical solutions directly from the manufacturers and distributors. For IT professionals, this group’s increased participation at the show can be attributed to the convergence of AV and IT, and the pursuit of outstanding solutions for meeting spaces, conference rooms, and so on…. The North American market is vital for the AV industry and enterprise space; this market is full of new adopters and some of the largest businesses in the world, [so] InfoComm is an ideal place for manufacturers to showcase their latest and greatest products.”

There’s far more to InfoComm than just looking at new gear, however, as the show’s parent organization, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA), also provides a slew of important certifications and events that address the changing needs of the industry. All of that has made InfoComm a crucial part of the calendar for many pros; in turn, that drawing power has ensured that exhibitors return year after year.

Having had a booth at InfoComm annually since 2005, Laurent Vaissié, CEO of L-Acoustics (Booth C576/Demo Room N107), is well positioned to address the show’s appeal to pro audio manufacturers. He said, “InfoComm attracts a wide selection of our key partners and clients—and, of course, potential clients and partners. Visitors from across North America and beyond converge, making it an important moment in our yearly calendar for networking and exhibiting our products. InfoComm is also the perfect opportunity to hold our certified provider meeting for the Americas.”

Meetings at and around the show are a key appeal for some exhibitors and their customers. As just one example, DPA Microphones (Booth C682) and Lectrosonics (Booth C1265) will co-host a masterclass event the day before the show starts at the Hard Rock Hotel, but that and exhibiting at the show itself are part of a larger goal, according to Chris Spahr, DPA’s vice president of sales and marketing, USA: “We might occasionally launch a new product at the show, but getting in front of current and prospective customers is really the greatest benefit. We’re still relatively unknown to the integration market in the U.S., and the ability to meet end users and integrators who are just learning about us for the first time is the best thing about InfoComm.”

At the other end of the spectrum, there are exhibitors on-hand who are known throughout the pro AV industry. “InfoComm is really fun for us because its attendees use just about all of our products,” confirmed Fred Morgenstern, product director for Neutrik USA (Booth C1642). Given that the company addresses networking, audio, video, live event production needs and more, InfoComm’s broad focus matches his company’s. “It’s wonderful that we get a great chance to talk about the whole breadth of our product range at the show.”

Lectrosonics, DPA Team for Master Classes

For manufacturers who serve multiple market segments, exhibiting at a show like InfoComm provides an opportunity to bring definition and context to their varied offerings. Christopher Currier, manager of trade marketing Americas/pro audio solutions at Sennheiser(Booth C1660), said, “Not only does InfoComm give us the chance to show our latest products, it also shows our commitment to the install markets and the various verticals within that market, like education, business, house of worship, IT [and more], so InfoComm is one of our best opportunities to meet with the leaders and end users in these verticals.”

Interactions like that are useful beyond simply presenting new products. Derek Badala, director of sales, Americas, at Synthax (Booth C1619), the U.S. distributor of RME, finds trade shows to be “one of the most effective ways to gain market feedback, debut technology and build rapport with all of our customers.”

Those interactions are key, said Marc Lopez, director of marketing for commercial audio products, Yamaha Professional Audio (Booth C1346/Demo Room N113). “Trade shows have bounced back, and I believe that this is a result of both the importance of relationships and the technical nature of our industry. Manufacturers like Yamaha are providing more training and hands-on opportunities in our approach to trade shows…. There is still a large amount of in-person education required for our industry to adopt and become proficient in implementing new solutions. There’s nothing like experiencing new products in person. Viewing products online is only part of the research phase. Seeing and hearing a product’s performance is an essential part of gaining full comprehension of its capabilities—and trade shows are a really convenient place to do so.”

Customers aren’t the only ones doing research at InfoComm. The show’s various panels and educational offerings provide overviews and deep dives into new technologies, emerging trends and more; those insights often prove as useful for manufacturers as they do for attendees because they illuminate end users’ needs and mindsets. “Thankfully, we are really busy at the show and find it difficult to get away from the booth,” said Kevin Booth, national sales manager, Auralex Acoustics (Booth C514). “However, we are eyeing up a few presentations for an hour getaway, like AV design, environments and infrastructure, emerging trends, loudspeaker and amplifier specifications, acoustics for conferencing and collaboration, project management for AV, and project management for sales managers.”

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Educational offerings are often a crucial part of what draws industry members to a convention, observed Richard Nevens, vice president of global sales at Focusrite (Booth C857). “Shows have always been a great source of demand generation for manufacturers, but I think it’s the educational and community aspects that attract visitors, providing them an opportunity to immerse themselves in new technologies, interact with their peers and specialists to improve their workflows and, of course, see and explore hot new products—all of which keep them coming back year after year.”

For the number of visitors it attracts and the sheer quantity of market segments it addresses, InfoComm has become a must for many of its audio exhibitors. John Monitto, director of business development at Meyer Sound (Booth C1356), summed it up, saying, “InfoComm is now the center-point show not only for installed AV but also for some big players in the touring market. It’s a combination of its association with the AVIXA certification and standards groups and the scope of the show itself; putting the two together, it’s become the show for our market in North America.”

InfoComm 2018 • www.infocommshow.org