irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an
occasional guest columnist.
An Interview with CHA's Andrej Suskavcevic
Explaining why and how the summer
show is changing.
(November 19, 2012)
CLN: Why did you and the board decide
a change was needed?
SUSKAVCEVIC: The summer show has been
declining in attendees and exhibitors for the last several years.
There have been repeated calls from the industry for a change. To
fully understand what needs to change, we conducted extensive
research to make sure all voices of the industry were represented,
not just one group. Over 1200 people, representing the full spectrum
of the industry, got involved via board-led focus groups, online
surveys, and personal interviews. We made the changes to the show
based on all that feedback.
CLN: The announcement said the focus would be on "innovation and
building relationships"; how is that different from the Rosemont
SUSKAVCEVIC: Focus on innovation is to
celebrate and showcase what's new and different. There is a
tremendous amount of innovation in this industry, and we want to
help shine a light on it for everyone to see.
Building relationships is very important. I
have heard people say, "just bring buyers to the show and we will do
the rest." I want to do one better. I not only want to bring them to
the show, I want to bring them to their booth. Not just anyone, but
someone who is looking for what they have to offer. The
appointment-setting software we are developing is intended to do
just that. The difference from Rosemont is the focus on innovation
and the additional service we are providing which didn't exist
CLN: What about evening events?
SUSKAVCEVIC: It's Vegas. As we say in
New Jersey.. forgetaboutit. But seriously, we are looking at options
that speak to our building relationships focus. More to come as we
CLN: What about the workshop and seminar schedule?
SUSKAVCEVIC: There will still be a
pre-show education day, heavy on workshops. There will also be
evening workshops after show hours. Workshops will not overlap with
trade show times. Seminars will be held on the 22nd and during lunch
hours on the 23rd and 24th. The luncheons are the only overlap as
it's a natural break for lunch and we don't think it would be too
disruptive. We are still exploring seminar options for those who
can't participate in the appointments.
CLN: Will the show be at the Las Vegas Convention Center or at a
hotel? Did you have to make a commitment for the 2014 summer show?
SUSKAVCEVIC: The show is not making a
home in Las Vegas. It will be a true regional show, moving around
the country each year. Our intent is to rotate it from West to
Midwest, to East than back to West. We want to give people who
normally can't afford to travel a chance to experience the show when
it's in their part of the country. Once we finalize cities and dates
we will get the information out to everyone.
CLN: A buyer can ask for an appointment with an exhibitor, and
exhibitors can ask buyers for appointments. And a computer will know
what a buyer is interested in, and if an exhibitor sells the
appropriate products, the computer can pair them together. Is that
SUSKAVCEVIC: Yes. I would equate it to a
crafty dating service. Even first time exhibitors and attendees will
be matched based on what they offer or are looking for. This is new
technology for our show, but similar technology has been used in
other industries. We plan on fully explaining and demonstrating the
technology well before the show. It speaks to our effort of making
time for people not taking time from them in their
relationship-building and product-identification efforts.
CLN: What if a buyer and seller want to spend more than 15
SUSKAVCEVIC: Once the connection is
made, it's up to both parties how long they want to spend together.
Fifteen minutes was a time-management choice we made so appointments
can be set. The thought was that it's enough time for people to get
a sense of the product line and get preliminary information. After
the appointments, the buyer will be able to evaluate what they have
learned and revisit the exhibitors whose products work best for them
during the open show hours so they can continue the relationship and
the business transaction.