ISC East surprises with traffic

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

NEW YORK—In a year when many trade shows have struggled with attendance and the trade-show industry as a whole has seen sharp declines, many on the show floor here at ISC East expressed surprise with what seemed to be heavy traffic for the first day of the event.

“It’s the busiest we’ve seen it in the last five years,” said Steve Walin, CEO of GVI | Samsung. “We actually down-sized our booth this year because of last year’s experience, but we’re much busier this year and the quality of the attendees is better, too.”

Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of the Americas for Axis, echoed those thoughts: “We put on an educational event at the start of the show and we’d received an email saying 1,200 people were registered for it, and we thought that was crazy. We thought they must have just checked a box that says they’re interested in IP video or something. But we came down this morning, and we had set up 200 chairs, and every chair was full and there were another 100 people at least standing. It was the best presentation attendance we’ve had in three years, at least.”

Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of integrator cooperative PSA Security, said the aisles were more crowded than any show he’d attended in at least three years.

The tweeters on the floor agree. B&H Photo’s Ari Erenthal reported “2 hopeful signs at ISCE09. First, really heavy traffic despite awful weather. All aisles very crowded. Second: swag! Not a lot, but some.”

Steve Mitchell at Pelco posted, “Our booth looks pretty good (and well attended) considering we weren’t even planning to be there until the last minute.”

So, why the bump?

There were a number of theories espoused. Some argued that the attendance hadn’t actually increased, but rather the show floor was smaller, and the aisles narrower, which lent the appearance of increased attendance. Reed Exhibitions, which runs the show, acknowledged that the square footage of the show was down about 10 percent from 2008, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the number of exhibitors is down, accordingly.

The more common theory, however, was that many East Coast installers and end users did not want to make the trip west for ISC West and ASIS (held in Anaheim, Calif., this year) in light of the poor economy, and decided to stay closer to home and attend ISC East instead. Anecdotally, most attendees seemed to be East Coast based. Also, more than one person theorized that ISC East has become much more of a destination for end users than it had been in the past, as there a number of security directors based on the East Coast and many end users have seen their travel budgets cut or eliminated, which makes nearby shows attractive.

Ed Nichols, VP at Reed, also mentioned a concerted effort to attract government end users, especially with the public safety-focused portion of the show.

Regardless of the cause, the effect had industry members as a whole buoyed.

“We were really surprised,” said Napco’s David Saltzman, marketing and events coordinator. “But we’re obviously very pleased about it.”