CETW shift to NYC focus 'a brilliant move'

Customer Engagement Technology World recently announced that it will spend the next year focusing on its fall New York City show, suspending its 2013 CETW spring show in Las Vegas. With the announcement coming just before the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., reaction from the digital signage and kiosk industries appears to have been muted as word continues to spread.

But some industry figures from both sectors have responded to the news, and nearly all with clear approval.

Digital signage veteran Keith Kelsen of 5thScreen, author of "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage," said he was glad to see CETW focus on the New York show in the fall, calling it "a brilliant move."

"Potentially adding more of a conference event in the spring in the western U.S., I think, will lend itself to a series of conferences and networking opportunities," he said, referring to Digital Screenmedia Association Executive Director David Drain's comments that the DSA might consider a spring conference in the west. "Providing more in-depth seminars one or two days on specific subject matters would be beneficial to people just getting into this. This is something that is difficult to do during the show because of competing interests."

Ron Bowers, the senior vice president of business development for kiosk company Frank Mayer & Associates Inc., said the discussion about two CETW shows a year versus one show a year "has been going on for the last year or so."

"Some industry vendors felt that there was no need for two shows and [having two] was actually cannibalizing from attendance of both shows," he said.

Each show seemed to primarily draw from their geography, with the New York expo showing the most growth over the years, he said. The New York show also seemed to be the primary show attended by the most influential retail industry end-users, with the Las Vegas show becoming more of a hardware show with emphasis on the technology and not the solution or retail execution, he said.

In his comments, Bowers suggested that the latest move is in line with other recent changes, such as combining KioskCom and The Digital Signage Show into one show and changing the name of the show to Customer Engagement Technology World, to better reflect the changing environment of retail and respond to the needs of the retailers and vendor suppliers.

"It is no longer about the coolest technology, but more about how the technology enables the consumer to engage with the brand at retail, the way the consumer wants," he said. "I understand that CETW is making a major investment and effort to focus on the growth area of the industry to make the show the best it can be with support of the industry suppliers, industry expert speakers and end-user case histories ... I know this will be a decision that will move the CETW to growth and focus our industry for the future."

Jetty Hartsky, the marketing communications manager for digital merchandising agency Reality Interactive, said her Connecticut-based firm is "excited to be moving to one show that's closer to home."

"We think it is a great move," she said. "The New York show has always been our favorite."

Digital signage expert consultant Lyle Bunn offered one differing sentiment. Timing the Las Vegas show to coincide with both the National Association of Broadcasters and the International Sign Association Expo shows has been very productive in the past, he said. But he also seemed to agree that, overall, the shift is a move in the right direction.

"CETW Las Vegas' presence encourages these events to increasingly introduce their delegates to dynamic signage, but CETW does have a more targeted focus, one that is also integrated into the annual Las Vegas Digital Signage Expo," Bunn said. "To focus on New York, including the marketing, brand, retail, investment and supply communities that could be well-served by CETW is a good call on the part of organizers. Beyond advancing best practices, events must serve an evangelist role — increasing the comfort level in engaging in the subject while increasing competence to take advantage of medium."

Olea Kiosks Inc. CEO Frank Olea also said that he thinks "making the switch to a single-show format is a good decision on JD Events' part."

"Olea has always looked forward to the fall show, as we feel we see more retailers and brand marketers at that event. The Vegas or 'West Coast' show has always been more of a do-it-yourself type of event to me," he said. "By focusing all of their marketing energies on one big show that takes place in New York in the backyard of many of the advertising and marketing agencies, I believe we'll see a rise in the right target demographic that CETW is aiming for. Customer engagement technology is what we're all there exhibiting."

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