In-person events such as CEDIA’s Tech Summits and CEDIA Expo have been a mainstay of the industry for years. Integrators, distributors, and manufacturers look forward to them for many reasons, not least of which is the enormous opportunity to network and create new business opportunities. When the pandemic came into full swing around March 2020, though, the world shifted. Everything that could be moved online was created as a virtual event.
Virtual events offer many benefits in terms of being able to learn from the comfort of your home or office and perhaps chat with others on a more global scale; however, they’re not the same as in-person events. They’re a great option for when safety is a concern, as it has been the past couple of years. But, as the world begins to create a new normal, in-person events are returning with gusto.
What We’ve Seen So Far in 2022
The first quarter of 2022 started out with a bang in terms of onsite events. We have four CEDIA Tech Summits in the books so far this year. In March, we were in Long Island, NY, and Newark, NJ. In April, we were in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. “Overall, there’s an overwhelming sense of excitement and it’s clear people have been waiting for face-to-face events to return,” notes Giles Sutton, CEDIA senior vice president of member success and sales.
The sponsors, manufacturers, and attendees are thrilled to be back in action after such a long hiatus. In fact, both Tech Summits in March rivaled pre-Covid attendance numbers, which is a feat considering how much travel has been restricted in the recent past.
Regional events like CEDIA Tech Summits are a great way for people to network and build relationships in the industry closer to home. Jeff Schneider from Digital Projection, who attended the Tech Summit in Long Island, says, “It’s been great to see people face-to-face instead of on a screen, and to shake hands again.” There are also chances to learn, and often to connect or reconnect with suppliers and manufacturers.
In the big-picture view, Jason McGraw, group vice president, CEDIA Expo & KBIS at Emerald, says the market is “bullish” right now, and that in-person events are “long overdue” because they engage other senses that you just can’t work with in online spaces. The Emerald team is excited to get back to a full-size CEDIA Expo this fall in Dallas from September 28–October 1, 2022. [See page 34 for a preview from Emerald.]
Related: The Decade of the Integrator
Why In-Person Makes Such a Big Difference
The ability to host and attend in-person events is a big deal. Technology makes it possible to stay connected with others in a digital way through phone and video calls, which is definitely a positive thing. After all, some people live far away from their friends and family, some travel for work, and others simply like to know they can call someone if they need support.
When all is said and done, humans need contact with others. Sensory details like handshakes and hugs are what’s been missing from virtual events the last couple of years, Sutton and McGraw both note.
Not to mention being together with others in one place at one time is efficient and serendipitous. Attendees come to tradeshows with a number of different objectives. Sutton details some of the most common include:
- To reconvene with other members
- For the association to meet and connect with non-members
- To see new products
- To learn
- To network
- For manufacturers to meet new dealers and showcase new products
- To gauge the pulse of what’s going on in the industry
- To scout out new business lines or recurring revenue opportunities
- To see what’s new and what’s next
All-in-all, in-person events create different opportunities, interactions, and a richer experience. One major advantage McGraw has seen in his 25-plus years of attending CEDIA Expo and other major industry events is that attendees “get to see, hear, and sample what’s happening in a broader context that could really help their businesses.” That’s what it’s all about.
Here at CEDIA, we’re extremely pleased with how in-person events have been going so far this year. It’s a breath of fresh air to see our members, make new connections, and support the networking that helps small business owners continue to grow.
“No one can say for sure how the rest of 2022 will pan out, but all current indicators point to a strong return of events,” Sutton emphasizes. McGraw, who has also been to several major events this year, says all have been successful so far, some even more than expected.
The home market and remodeling markets have been hot as people have been at home more than they used to be. According to McGraw, it has created a “panacea of opportunity for system integrators in the channel.”
Although integrators are known for their fabulous home theater projects, new opportunities are springing up in the rest of the home, as well. As a long-time industry member, Sutton explains that the shifts to smart technology and more robust networks are driving innovation and opportunity in the field. The industry has been growing, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
“Everything is smart, and everything’s on a network today. People want the convenience, the comfort, the control, and the confidence,” says McGraw. There are huge and exciting opportunities for integrators, and industry growth doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Rachel Tindall is a content writer at CEDIA. Her professional writing focuses on technology and business topics.