I've just returned to the office after a few days in Philadelphia for PITTCON 2013. As I had suspected initially when the show location was announced, having the show here was a terrible idea. All one had to do was stand outside waiting for a bus to one of the hotels and you could hear dozens of attendees and exhibitors complaining. Before I get there, lets start with the good:
1. Hotel selection - Being in a larger city, there were plenty of hotel options, many with top restaurants nearby and the bus service provided easy access to the show.
2. Layout of the convention center - Many convention centers involve a long walk from the entrance to the halls. This is especially tough if you are carrying materials from a cab/bus to the show. The badge pickup was near the entrance and the hall entrance was close to the doors as well.
3. Apples - Who doesn't look forward to the high quality apples each year?
4. Side functions run by independent organizations or Companies - A special mention to the great events put on by ILDA and by Andwin Scientific! These organizations are class acts and demonstrated why with great events and organization!
That being said, there were quite a few problems with having the show here:
1. Weather - It's March in Philadelphia. It doesn't take an analytical chemist to figure out that this could cause problems. There was threats of snow in the area, which would have crippled travel. It was very cold outside while waiting for a bus. People were not happy. I'm sure the show will correct this in the future....wait, its in Chicago next year (even earlier in the year too!) and back in Philly in a couple of years. Please keep this show in New Orleans and Orlando where it belongs!
2. Cost - As evident by the lack of traffic and the booth downsizing, the show has become to expensive to exhibit for many manufacturers and importers. There is no real return on investment for many customers.
3. Neighborhood - One of the highlights for me when the show is in Orlando is the I Drive area which, especially in March, is great to take a relaxing walk around. There were many "suspicious" characters in downtown Philly, particularly at night. It's tough to feel safe walking alone here.
4. Show Attendance - Purely dreadful. I can count the companies on one hand of the ones I work with that were pleased with the turnout. This show continues to see significant decreases in attendees every year.
The positive of the low traffic for me was that I was able to spend significant time with key people from our distributors in their booths since they were rarely busy with their end user customers. Personally, the show was a success for me as I was able to work with some of our key customers on some great ideas for product promotion. Also, with the large amount of lab supply dealers in the area, I was able to double up on this trip and visit their facilities as well.
I always look forward to Pittcon every year (my feet don't, though!) and I will certainly be in Chicago...through rain, sleet, or snow next year.
In summary...let me mention this one more time...KEEP THE SHOW IN NEW ORLEANS AND ORLANDO where weather will not be an issue this time of year and attendance can again rise!
Until next time......