AV Professionals Take on Business Travel
With the ever-changing landscape of live events, ISE changing course on their June in-person conference, and other events, such as the CCUMC conference, going virtual, I began to wonder what to expect for the rest of 2021. Part of my role here at Control Concepts is to stay abreast of industry trends and the needs of our clients.
As we entered this year with renewed optimism, I wanted to find out what our clients would be doing in the way of travel – making sales calls, attending trade shows, participating in live in-person networking events. One, for the sake of knowing what our clients’ plans were, and two, so we could make some decisions on whether we would attend some of the larger shows slated for the second half of the year.
For me personally, I never thought I would say this, but I miss trade shows. I miss seeing my industry friends, having lunch or dinner with clients and associates, and seeing their faces rather than viewing them through a computer screen or over the phone. But just because this was how I felt, did not mean this was how businesses felt. I set out to poll exactly what our clients’ thoughts were on meeting in person. What I learned during the process was quite surprising.
After presenting this question to most of our clients, I was a little surprised to learn that the majority were opting not to travel until 2022. One of our manufacturer partners stated, “Currently our stance is the same as it was for 2020 in that we will not be participating in any physical shows.” I thought after months of not seeing clients in person I would hear more of them jumping at the chance to attend a trade show. But one thing we have learned during this pandemic, or at least should have learned, is how to reinvent yourself. Businesses have had to find new ways to get in front of clients. They have invested the time and money that use to be slated for travel for new and inventive ways to capture their clients’ attention.
In a different conversation with another manufacturer client, who was very candid on his position on not traveling this year, he told me that their entire travel budget was used to redesign their boardroom and another existing space for demonstrating their product line. He said that the cost of doing a trade show with small return on investment and very little quality time with clients was not working. By demonstrating their products via webinars or through appointment scheduling they were able to spend more meaningful time with a client and really delve into their needs. He also told me that their time was devoted to internal projects that they could not do pre-Covid.
Here at Control Concepts, we also had a plan during the pandemic which has proven to be successful. Our developers spent “down-time” investing in learning new control system platforms and modern programming languages with a goal of being on the leading edge of industry needs with the agility to field new and innovative requests.
With the end of support for Adobe Flash in web browser, HTML5 has become a focus for AV user interfaces, especially those who are looking to leverage BYOC (Bring Your Own Control) devices. Additionally, as AV manufacturers look to add flexibility and lower the barriers of programming and configuration for their products, there is a growing demand for drivers/modules/plugins that demonstrate their compatibility and ease of integration with a greater number of control systems.
I believe one thing was made clear to me during my polling, there is still some discomfort about coming together for face-to-face meetups. While the vaccine is quickly being rolled out here in the States, there is still a hesitation by some companies to send their employees out on the road just yet. As for another industry contact, they are still aware of the looming general concern. At their company “travel is going to be evaluated very carefully weighing the risk against the reward, even after the release of the vaccine. There are many unknowns still, including future variants of the virus.”
While there is this hesitation, it was interesting for me to see these companies’ employees finding new, inventive ways to capture business and reinvent themselves during these uncertain times to keep things moving.
Whether you are ready to meet in person locally on a one-on-one basis, planning to attend a future event, or would prefer connecting virtually, I look forward to the increased engagement and opportunity to interact with more members of the AV community. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @TammyFuqua3.