NPE 2012 has come and gone. This every three year event is one of the largest trade shows for one manufacturing industry segment: plastics. If you were following a lot of the conversations surrounding this latest event, you are aware that the big question was: How would the new venue (Orlando) compare to NPE's previous home for the last few decades (Chicago)? Would people come? Would it be successful? Are trade shows still a viable forum for companies to present and attendees to gain knowledge?
I have to admit, I am not privy to all the alleged problems that forced SPI to look for a new location for NPE. Sure, I know how particular the unions in Chicago are and the high cost of exhibiting there. Can I say that I could see a difference between that and Orlando? Yes and no ... or better yet, maybe.
Yes, in that the people who assisted in set-up and running of the event (the Orange County Convention Center staff) were much more friendly and accommodating in comparison. From offering to take me to a location (rather than just pointing and providing directions) to coming to our aide within minutes of being requested - all these examples led to a wonderful customer service experience.
For the maybe, let's talk cost. It seems as though items were less costly (food to electrical to labor), but until the last invoice is received, I will reserve final judgment.
If You Build It, Will They Come?
Attendance was, predominantly, steady and successful in my opinion. Unlimited free passes were provided to exhibitors for us to provide to prospects and customers and I think that was well received. But because travel wasn't free, the general consensus was the caliber of people attending was higher - more buying and decision making attendees. Exhibitors I talked with all had the same sentiment: Perhaps there was a lower quantity of people, but that was far outweighed by the greater quality of potential that attended. So another point in the win column.
Trade Shows: Yes or No?
A lot of work goes into trade shows by the exhibitors and those who put the event on. This event, for certain, proved that attending offered something beneficial. For IQMS, getting to talk face-to-face with prospects was great. They felt no pressure, were able to ask questions, do some hands-on with the software (such as our new RTStation devices and tablet apps) and meet other members of our team to get a real feel for the culture of our company.
What was also great were the unplanned encounters those prospects had with existing clients who stopped by to talk about the latest developments, get information on our upcoming User Group or just catch up and chat for a bit. There is something to be said for talking with someone in person versus online or over the phone. We do so much through technology that having that live interaction reminds us of the benefit to it.
Overall, I would call this a successful show for not only IQMS, but for SPI and the concept of NPE as well. I am hopeful that the next major trade show for the manufacturing industry that IQMS attends, IMTS in September, will be just as fruitful. Do you plan to attend?