Vision Tradeshow Canceled – Good for Machine Vision Industry? (Demo)

We noticed the other day that Vision 2013, which was to have been held in Stuttgart in September of 2013 has been canceled and will become an every-other-year event beginning in 2014.  See article.

Is this good or bad for the machine vision industry? 

Does it signal anything about the global state of the industry or is it rather a commentary on tradeshows? Or both?

According to the organizers, “The new biennial cycle will extend the leading position of Vision still further and consolidate its importance as a global innovation platform,” said Ulrich Kromer, managing director of Messe Stuttgart. “Thanks to this strategic development, Vision will also be adapted to the changed needs of the machine vision industry.”

The operative words here are “consolidate” & “global innovation platform”.

Keynote Photonics (based in the U.S.) has attended Vision the last couple of years but not exhibited there.  We have participated as an exhibitor or with an exhibitor at Photonics West for the last 3 shows.

So, we can relate to what the Vision organizers might be pointing to. 

It’s simpy about ROI for all involved.

Frankly, it’s near impossible for companies to come up with new innovations in time for every tradeshow an organization might want to attend. Few products are developed in less than a year and most have a longer than one year lifecycle.  As such, tradeshows held every year have a high risk of becoming repetitive – many of the same products two, even three years in a row all viewed by many of the same attendees.   

For both exhibitors and attendees that drives the question of ROI.  To exhibit at a tradeshow on your own continent, let alone one held across an ocean, is a non-trivial effort and expense.  It’s easy to spend $50,000 USD or more when you account for all the costs incurred.  That’s money that could be spent on additional development and innovation that could be marketed in other ways.  If you have an 18 month development cycle, it would be tempting to skip a repeat show in 12 months and rather wait until you have new story to tell in 2 years.

Maybe attendance is the big value item for your organization.  You can see the latest innovations, attend conferences and have series of productive meetings.  By not being an exhibitor or needing to exhibit, you lower the bar needed for a positive return.  However, if the shows are getting to be all the same, the conference content is not so fresh and it’s only meetings you have left from which to extract value, you may have several more effecitve options for that.

While we weren’t there as the organizers and exhibitors for Vision held discussions that led to this decision, we can imagine these are some of the points that came up.   

Bottom line is this:  for tradeshows (in any industry) to succeed in general, they have to deliver a better ROI (or better perceived ROI) than the alternatives.   In the past, it was sometimes challenging to analyze marketing ROI; perceived ROI was a bigger factor. Not so much anymore with modern analytics.  It’s pretty easy to determine what actions you are taking that are driving the best results.   

That’s one reason we changed our strategy at Keynote in this regard as well.  We did not have a Keynote Photonics booth at Photonics West in 2013.  Instead, we opted to participate in a partners’ booth – an option available to us as a DLP Design House for Texas Instruments.   A win-win really – TI was able to have a more robust and vibrant booth with lower out of pocket costs to fill and staff it.  Companies like Keynote Photonics were able to display our newest products.  For some “newest” was last year.  For others there were innovations since last year to show.  Keynote worked to be in the latter group and was pleased to show the new LC3000-PRO (a major enhancement to the DLP Lightcrafter).  If you didn’t get to attend Photonics West, take a look at this short video to see the LC3000-PRO in action (and see the snazzy TI booth for free!)…

In the end, I think the folks at Vision have probably made a good decision. To stay competetive and provide the best ROI to both exhibitors and attendees, a two year cycle gives companies time to develop and ready new innovations.  That means more new products can be debuted there – the marketing folks like debuts.  Attendees like new stuff too and will have more reasons to attend and to meet with exhibitors and each other. 

What do you think – did Vision make the right call?

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