NSS turnout sluggish despite hopes

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, November 1, 2003

Chelsie Woods

WASHINGTON - Less than a week after the closing of the National Summit on Security Show, an ISC Expo event, the exhibition company that runs the show had already begun working to find out why attendance at this show was low.

Though Reed Exhibitions showed it had more than 7,500 pre-registrants the Monday prior to the show opening on Oct. 1, a 20 percent increase compared with the ISC East Expo held in Orlando, Fla., last year, the number of people who actually attended the event was less than expected, according to Reed officials.

The show drew 3,518 attendees, compared with 3,932 at ISC East last year. But including attendees, conferees and exhibitors, Reed officials said they saw a two percent increase, with 6,106 people at this year’s event and 6,004 in Orlando.

“There was some disappointment with quantity and volume of traffic,” said Dean Russo, industry vice president, ISC events. Russo said Reed Exhibitions plans to contact pre-registered attendees who did not show up for the show and poll them on their decision not to attend.

The lack of traffic prompted some exhibitors to tear down their booth prior to the show closing at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3.

“We have an isle that’s half full,” said David McLean, marketing manager for Fluke Networks during the show. The company exhibited in the 100/200 aisle and saw neighboring exhibitors pull out of the show a day early.

Because of the lack of traffic at the event, Fluke Networks now plans to only exhibit at next year’s ISC West event in Las Vegas. “Our decision is going to be that we stick with West,” said McLean.

Others, such as home security product company Linear Corp., saw only 25 percent of the traffic it typically gets at its booth, prompting company officials to send home four sales people a day early.

Chuck Stevens, who heads up marketing for Linear, said on the last day of the show his company scanned badges from only five attendees. A bomb scare that cleared out the building at the end of the day probably didn’t help, either (See related story). “I believe the shows on the East Coast have become more regionalized,” said Stevens.

The problem, say some, is the security industry has too many shows and that many shows are held too close to one another. The National Summit on Security, for example, was held two weeks after ASIS International’s show in New Orleans.

Others criticized the Washington venue of this year’s event over New York City, where the show is returning to next year.

Joe Freeman, principal of J.P. Freeman Co., noted a number of new players have begun producing security shows. One of those new players include Cygnus Business Media, the publisher of Security Dealer, Locksmith Ledger and ST&D and its security show, Security & Systems Solutions Expo, scheduled for New York in June.

“Everybody wants a piece of the security industry,” said Freeman.

Stevens concurred that the security industry has numerous events from which to choose. In one month’s time his company exhibited at three different shows – CEDIA, ASIS International and National Summit on Security.

But despite the sluggish turnout, Russo said that ISC East is not in jeopardy. “Clearly the show is and has been in a transitional period,” he said. “We’re trying to put this show in the best possible position to succeed. I believe there is support for an East Coast event in the industry as evident by the 403 vendors who participated this year.”

And, he said Reed recognizes that the ISC East event, which is scheduled to be held in New York in early November, will not rival that of ISC West any time soon.

Still, Russo said for some exhibitors “there was some positive return on contacts that were made.”

For Keith Armstrong, general manager of central station AMC in Greer, S.C., the traffic may have been slow at the show, but he pulled in some good leads.

Attendees of the event included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Treasury, Department of Homeland Security and others government agencies. That’s the new audience the event, held in Washington for the first time, sought to attract in conjunction with the traditional security dealer audience the show has been geared towards for years.