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THE MORNING BUZZ: VSDA May Have Pulled Off Bit of Magic With New Format

21 Jul, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

The VSDA's Home Entertainment 2002 annual convention ended last Thursday evening with a several VSDA showgoers coming onstage with Penn & Teller to handle various weapons fired and thrown at each other and the dynamic duo. It was a great show that, like all great magic, had some elements of danger and truly dumbfounding moments of sleight of hand.

In many ways it was a fitting end to a show, now in its 21st year, whose organizers, the VSDA, are attempting a little magic of their own to keep current and meaningful for its industry. Not an easy feat, and one, if not done correctly, fraught with danger. If this doesn't work, then what?

I'd have to say, based purely on anecdotal evidence, the new business-meeting format of the show has been received well and will give the VSDA show a new, contemporary format on which to build the annual convention's future. There was still an expo hall, albeit it significantly smaller than in years past and featuring mostly retail services and equipment, with some specialized video suppliers. There was a significant conference program and there were a couple of terrific parties and an awards celebration. But the bottom line comments from both retailers and exhibitors were that business got done, meetings were more productive and the format gave an opportunity to build closer business relationships.

Sure there were snafus and problems and confusion early on. Some of the meeting suites floors were open to all attendees (and those were very busy pretty much every hour of each day), and several floors housed suites in which one could enter only with an appointment. There were times puzzled retailers were turned away from these floors. There were times appointments were missed because retailers didn't know which elevator to take to which floor (the show had exclusive use of certain elevators to some of the floors.) And there no doubt were plenty of tired feet by the end of the event as one had to travel some distance from the conference area to the suites towers (and some distance even between towers). Although, the distance between the conference and exhibits of past shows was probably greater.

The key element was preparation. Those exhibitors who made an effort prior to the show to make contact with key customers and set meetings had full agendas from Day One through Day Three and reported great success. Those retailers who came with specific deals in mind with specific agendas would certainly have been much more successful than the retailer who came just expecting to cruise and pick up giveaways from the major studios. That's business as done in the past. The new paradigm is both more serious and personal and both exhibitor and retailer have to be willing to make the effort to make the show work and, to a large extent, they seemed to be doing just that.

I think next year's event – and I am betting the VSDA opts to continue with this format though no word yet on a date or place – will be much more successful for all concerned, since we all know what to expect and how to “work the show.”

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