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The impact of a virtual InfoComm 2020 on future AV events

As InfoComm goes virtual, how we stage future AV events and who benefits might be rewritten

AVIXA’s announcement last week of a virtual InfoComm 2020, now rebranded as InfoComm 2020 Connected, was accompanied by a link to a survey asking the AV industry to tell the event planners what we want out of such a show. It is the kind of communal organizing and planning often seen in grassroots organizations as a way of not only rallying a community, but also ensures the success of an event specifically because all parties have a stake in pulling it off.

“I point back to this past week, the Learn from Home Summit that AVNation put on, which was fantastic and ‘proof of concept’ that this model works,” said Control Concepts’ Steve Greenblatt, during the AVWeek podcast, where AVNation’s Tim Albright led a discussion about what a virtual InfoComm means for the industry. “This can really draw a crowd and still does provide the sense of community, connectivity, learning, and opportunity to engage. It just seemed so energizing and so natural and it fulfilled the need. I don’t know where we’re going to be in June. That’s one of the challenges that we’re going to be facing. Because, if we’re starting to transition out of this current situation, is that going to impact the effectiveness of this type of an event? I’m not quite sure. What’s nice about this and others choosing this medium is that it opens the door for everybody to attend that wants to.”

Praising AVIXA’s outreach as inspiring, Content Producer Kristen Nelson harkened back to AVIXA CEO Dave Labuskes’ initial hint of a virtual InfoComm during his LFH Summit keynote, where he floated the idea of an evolving hybrid space, where the slow return to in-person social gatherings will be supplemented or sit next two remotely produced aspects of the show.

“This event is going to reflect what our industry might actually be serving,” said Nelson. “We’re going to be showing people what is possible with the projects they are building for their clients.”

Nelson, who serves on industry planning committees, also noted that in her conversations with large architect firms, signs point to collaboration and virtual work concepts becoming part of building contingency plans going forward —  a potential boon for integrators post pandemic and an opportunity for virtual InfoComm show exhibitors to demonstrate the efficacy of that kind of hindsight having an impact on foresight.

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But what role will manufacturers play in a virtual InfoComm? Brock McGinnis of avitaas, pointed out that most AV manufacturers have an abundance of education and product materials easily accessible on their websites, which means AVIXA will have to be “incredibly creative” if it is looking to manufacturers as a source of revenue for the virtual show and provide a compelling argument for attendees to explore virtual booths by the likes of Crestron, Kramer, and Middle Atlantic.

“The education opportunities are spectacular,” McGinnis said when explaining how AVIXA can potentially monetize some aspects of a virtual event. “After every trade show…there is a hue and cry to post online all of the education and other [presentations] that occur at a trade show. This is AVIXA’s chance to record forever and begin to have a library of all of the amazing education that typically occurs at InfoComm.”

We can count on InfoComm 2020 Connected being like nothing we have seen before in the industry. For the first time, people who are unable to travel to the show will have access to all that it has to offer. Professionals and those who work outside or alongside AV tech pros will have access to information they might have been hesitant to travel to a full show to obtain. And there is potential, as Nelson pointed out, for the show to go beyond three days as well as to mine creative ways for exhibitors and manufacturers to pitch their products and services with compelling storytelling concepts. No matter what, June’s virtual event will rewrite the AV trade show space for years to come.

Listen to the full episode of AVWeek, here.

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