CEDIA CEO Vin Bruno
“A meeting of the minds” is an astute depiction of any major tradeshow. And ISE 2016 last week in Amsterdam was a prime example. While juggling press conferences and booth tours, running among eight technology halls in the massive RAI convention center, I found myself constantly stopping in my tracks after run-ins with the many influential thought leaders circulating through the show.
So while ISE is about products and technology and education and networking, it’s the latter impulse I found myself continually clearing my schedule to accommodate. One such opportunity came from Vin Bruno, CEDIA CEO. While my editorial efforts no longer focus squarely on the residential sector, Bruno is one of those characters that always have enlightening perspectives to share on the AV business past and present. And with recent news coverage about CEDIA’s identity and flagship trade show top of mind, I jumped at the chance to reconnect.
We started off discussing CEDIA’s stance toward the designer, builder, and architect communities. Bruno told me that he had recently attended the International Builders’ Show show in Las Vegas, presented by both the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
The IBS attracts 110,000 builders, designers, and architects, and Bruno told me that he has become very friendly with the CEOs of both the organizing associations. As testament, Bruno is on his way to NKBA headquarters this week to meet with both.
“They both know that the success of their organizations and their members is reliant on CEDIA home technology professionals,” he said. “Because everything that’s involved in building, and even connected appliances, requires a technology professional. Because anything that can be connected, will be connected, and there ain’t nothing easy about connecting a home to a Wi-Fi network.”
Additionally, a technology pavilion at the IBS will represent CEDIA in 2017. These affiliated trades have always been welcome to attend CEDIA, Brunco explained, but it’s challenging to get them to a single city, beyond their own industry trade show. “It’s easier for us to go to where they are,” he stated.
That being said, he expects plenty of designers, builders, and architects to attend the CEDIA trade show this September. Bruno is proud to have invested efforts into attracting mainstream media there as well. The association’s PR team is engaging the likes of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other leaders in mainstream media, “so that our clients—the homeowner clients—learn what CEDIA is,” he explained. “CEDIA is not just the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, but CEDIA the trademarked word is a word that is synonymous with technology, and we will reach homeowners through architects, builders, and designers, so homeowners learn what CEDIA, the technology association is for them.”
One idea that has come up over the years, and Bruno has tackled already, as well, is the notion of opening the last day of the CEDIA show to consumers. On a day when traffic tends to lag, it’s a fair idea, and Bruno set out with an informal poll of a few key exhibitors to see what they thought. They all vehemently rejected the idea, mostly on the principle that dealers don’t want to be overheard discussing margins with potential clients around.
So for now, that seems to remain an unpopular idea for exhibitors, but Bruno’s response is to launch a series of regional, consumer-facing exhibitions in key geographies across the globe—New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and London were a few he rattled off. His goal is to have a CEDIA show open to the right demographic of homeowners anywhere there’s an NFL football team. “We might even structure it so there’s a trade day, and it will be a place for home technology professionals and manufacturers to talk to the right demographic of end users,” he noted.
These regional shows were mentioned on CEDIA’s end-of-year webinar, but they are now further along in the planning process. Bruno hopes to launch at least one by the end of the 2016.
“There’ll have to be a charge to the homeowners coming because we don’t want everybody off the street,” he said. “What we have to deliver is the right audience. I can’t have our manufacturer members and our home technology professionals setting up to talk to people who aren’t going to buy.”
These events also will include marketing efforts through the mainstream media. “We want to promote the heck out of these to the right people,” Bruno said.
One other interesting takeaway from my chat with Bruno pertained to developing relationship with the CEO of Coldwell Banker, who had some interesting statistics to share.
“In 2015, Coldwell Banker sold more than 21,000 homes at over a million dollars each,” Bruno said. “What they learned was that homes with even a little automation were perceived to be ‘better kept’ than homes without, and therefore, they sold quicker, and they commanded on average 18 percent more than homes without automation.”
In addition to already having delivered CEDIA education for Coldwell Banker agents, the progressive real estate company has asked the association to run a technology summit featuring 20 of the best technology companies from the residential space. Bruno plans to handpick the companies and run the summit, to take place either late spring or early summer at Coldwell Banker headquarters in New Jersey.
“Before the ‘for sale’ sign goes in the ground, they want a CEDIA member in the house putting up some form of automation,” Bruno explained. “That drives a couple of things. It will help Coldwell Banker get more money for the house and sell it quicker. It provides to the home technology professional the opportunity to engage with the seller to automate their new house and to engage with the buyer to automate the rest of the house. That’s the kind of profit opportunities that CEDIA is going to be delivering to our members.”