What you thought about the first LA Audio Show, just concluded at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel apparently depends largely on what you were expecting and how successful you were. While most exhibitors noted that attendance appeared down from previous similar events held in Newport Beach, the perception infuriated some and was taken in stride by others. Most indicated that traffic and attendance was difficult to judge because there were many more exhibit spaces than the usual first-year show, there were – at last – adequate elevators, and the show was spread out over five floors.
Marine Presson, the Show Director, said that she had not yet tabulated and analyzed the registration figures. She stressed that this was a preliminary “look back” and that there would be a more in-depth discussion after figures were looked at and feedback was obtained from attendees and exhibitors.
Magnepan’s Wendell Diller was somewhat disappointed and felt that familiar faces were absent from his room this year, but said, “It’s the first year in a new location and the show has to learn how to lure back its stalwarts and draw from its new community.”
Other comments were less kind. One exhibitor said flat out, “Second worst show I’ve ever attended.” The worst, he reported, being CES two years ago. When asked the reason for his displeasure, the exhibitor responded that he felt that the attendance was nowhere near what he had been promised. Since the Show was careful not to talk about expected or promised attendance, it is unclear if the exhibitor had been misled or was spewing sour grapes.
At the other end of the spectrum, Bruce Ball, of Questyle North America & HeadSonix, said, "Our room was packed from the time the Show opened on Friday to the time it closedon Sunday. We had a great show. Our booth in the Xtreme Room was also busy once the room was opened to the HeadGear Planet. I really can't say how the Show was for other companies, I was rarely able to get away from our room." When asked if he plans to come back next year, Mr. Ball was enthusiastic. "Absolutely!" he said. "And I will bring other exhibitors back with me."
In general, exhibitors were pleased. Vinh Vu, of Gingko Audio, said that he had a good show and felt it was well organized. Likewise, Kyle Harig, at Audio Vault, said, “Traffic was OK. Sales were slow, but this weekend is the beginning of a sales process, not the end. We’ll see over the next several months how much business truly originated here."
Kevin Hayes, of VAC (Valve Amplification Company), was a happy and satisfied exhibitor. “We did surprisingly well,” he noted. “We were in two rooms, one we shared with Von Schweikert, and the second was ours with our dealer, Scott Walker. Traffic was good and I am excited about being back with two rooms at next year’s Show.”
Mark Sossa, principal of Virginia-based distributor, Well Pleased AV, commented that he liked the venue a lot and felt that the Show was well attended, particularly by the media. He was impressed with the "International flavor" of the attendance. He found that West Coast customers were different from those he encountered on the East Coast. "They seem to have a special affinity for these kinds of products," he said.
And one exhibitor in the headphone area used a familiar metric to assess attendance. “When I went upstairs Saturday,” he said, “I had to wait 15 minutes for an elevator.”
“First, let me congratulate the small “Band of Brothers and Sisters” that is the LA Audio Show staff and the volunteers who went above and beyond to make this Show the success it was. And it was that,” said Marine Presson. “We not only changed hotels, but we moved a location. We got extraordinary support from exhibitors, and the ever-present Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society.”
What other changes might we see between the 2017 Show and 2018’s? “We are committed to the Los Angeles area,” Ms. Presson affirms. “And we believe strongly that reaching new music lovers and those who may become audio enthusiasts is vital for the survival of this industry, the companies in it and those who love audio gear. Everything else is on the table for discussion,” she added. “Over the next several weeks, we will discuss with both attendees and exhibitors what changes they would like to see for next year and we will make adjustments accordingly.”
On a positive note, Ms. Presson said, “Our very first preliminary look at our attendance shows us that much of what we wanted to achieve was successful. Our figures for first-time attendees and for young people have gone up. We need to accelerate that. The crowds at the Positive Feedback-sponsored "Getting Started" room were outstanding. The room's host and presenter, the publication's Senior Associate Editor, Steve Lefkowicz reported that more than 300 people moved through his room on Saturday alone."
Other media also noticed and appreciated the "Getting Started" room. Greg Handy, a writer for "Home Theater Review," commented that some of the products displayed and demonstrated there were the standouts for him. He also noted that the mix of vendors was especially nice and that he was able to learn about products that were new to him as well as audition some that he had only read about. Dave Thomson, of "The Record Collector," summed up his impressions in one word, "Impressive!" he said.
"All in all, we feel it was a really successful Show," Ms. Presson concluded. "There were some glitches, which will be ironed out next year. But most exhibitors and attendees were happy and are looking forward to next year's Show — as are we."
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