Robert Peckham, director of the Technology Channels Association, talks about industry events and if there is a future for Mac Expo...

What?s in store for trade shows?

Just a year ago, although we really weren’t aware of it at the time, the UK’s Apple buyers, users and reseller channels were witnessing the final closure of that perennial event. Mac Expo. I’ve covered the many reasons for the demise of this traditional Apple industry gathering in my previous columns, so I won’t go over the reasons again, but my personal opinions certainly highlighted my doubts on the future of shows like Mac Expo.

This was mainly thanks to disinterested consumers, dealer apathy and the availability of information on the internet. However, I think I might have just had my mind changed by attending two recent events.

Despite my great interest in the subject of data storage (how sad am I?) somehow I’ve always managed to miss Storage Expo in previous years, so this year I was determined to make it, especially as it was being held in the same Olympia hall as the last Mac Expo. I rolled along to Olympia’s huge National Hall on the last day of the show, fully expecting to find a similar, half-empty, under-attended, unimpressive and lacklustre show. How wrong I was.

I arrived at the show mid-morning, and despite clutching my pre-registered, pre- printed badge, there was still a queue to collect badge holders and show programmes. Once inside the hall, I stopped and looked in awe – it was absolutely packed. The aisles were crowded, every stand appeared to have many interested visitors, the hall was full of high-profile, significant brand names in the storage market and there were plenty of well-attended seminars and educational sessions, both on stands and in adjoining meeting rooms. There was certainly a very large amount of extremely complex demonstration equipment being proudly put through its paces for the expectant onlookers.

When I finally got to speak to anyone on a stand, they all reported a similar story throughout all the days of the show. So I had to ask – had many dealers or resellers been along to the event? The answer, I am very pleased to say, was a resounding ‘yes’. I’ve since spoken to the organisers who tell me that almost 30 per cent of the visitors to Storage Expo were from computer dealers, resellers or were IT consultants.

I also attended recent conferences that have been a success. So there’s hope yet that the reseller channel can actually be inspired to leave the security of their offices or showrooms and attend events where they can meet and network with others in the industry, learn more about the products or services they sell, and be presented with new potential opportunities that could change their business fortunes.

Let’s hope they all feel similarly inspired to attend our future Association events, and perhaps there’s hope yet for a future Mac Expo after all.

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