I have seen many, many companies come in with a big Bang and leave the scene quickly. Grow into it. Utilize all the industry news outlets such as Home Toys, Internet Blogs, etc. to get the “Buzz” going about your product. Utilize every e-mail mailing list you can lay your hands on to make attendees aware of your existence.

Interview - Trade Shows

Richard Beers | T.H.E. Show

Richard Beers, T.H.E. Show

I have seen many, many companies come in with a big Bang and leave the scene quickly. Grow into it. Utilize all the industry news outlets such as Home Toys, Internet Blogs, etc. to get the "Buzz" going about your product. Utilize every e-mail mailing list you can lay your hands on to make attendees aware of your existence.

How is T.H.E. Show, Las Vegas doing this year? Any changes?

As T.H.E. Show or THE Home Entertainment Show enters its 10th year, we anticipate many milestones being reached and surpassed within the next 2 years. As you know, CES moved out of its long-time home for high-end audio, Alexis Park Resort last year and relocated to various locations within The Venetian Hotel and Casino, the Sands Convention and the Las Vegas Convention Center. The reaction, from what I have heard and read has been "mixed" at best. The individual rooms "up in the tower" were a hit, for some, but still there remained complaints about long elevator waits, limited hours and extra fees. As everyone knows, the rooms in the Sands Convention Center connecting to The Venetian had many complaints including enormous sound leakage problems between rooms.

We at T.H.E. Show, upon hearing and observing all of these difficulties decided to expand our convention, signing a long-term agreement with Alexis Park, in addition to retaining our on-going contract with the St Tropez Hotel. We can now offer individual exhibit rooms, convention space, large Board Rooms, as well as reasonably priced accommodations, all within a short walking distance. We also made the decision to keep the majority of exhibits all on Ground Level.offering a "flow-of-traffic" plan that makes "getting around the exhibits" much easier than in the past and certainly much easier than roaming the meandering and splintered lay-out that they have to live with at The Venetian.

Didn't you, at T.H.E. Show, used to criticize various rooms at Alexis as "acoustically inferior" to those you had at the St Tropez?

Yes, but we're not being inconsistent because we have taken all of those problematic rooms off of our Exhibit room inventory. Or, in some cases, we have solved a room's problems by offering a nearby second room at no additional cost.

We don't hear much from Mike Maloney, the CEO of T.H.E. Show: Is he still involved?

Mike is still the CEO of T.H.E. Show and although his role is mainly that of an advisor at this time, his 30 year knowledge of high-end audio and high-end conventions is invaluable. As a manufacturer, Mike did well, but became increasingly frustrated with the bureaucratic nature and hassle of "exhibiting" at the large conventions. This was the reason he founded T.H.E. Show ten years ago and we continue to attempt to be more "user-friendly, service-oriented and reasonably priced", which are the parameters set by Mike a decade ago. What few people know, however, is that Mike is also a monetary historian and respected advisor in the field of commodities: specializing in Gold and Silver. For the last two years Mike has been making appearances at seminars and wealth expos, were he has spoken to more than 100,000 expo attendees all over the country, and he is currently writing a book on the subject of Gold and Silver, which should be published early next year. He also is a "high-end" (what else) Dealer in the field. To keep up with Mike's endeavor, one only needs to visit him at www.goldsilver.com.

How has T.H.E. Show, Denver been received by the industry?

Traditionally, T.H.E. Show Las Vegas has been known as a two-channel, analog type of show. In the recent past however, you'll notice we have made increasing mention of "home theater" in our promotional materials. This was basically at the request of our exhibitors. T.H.E. Show still spotlights the finest and most innovative products in high-end audio, but just like many of our exhibitors, we are now "thinking beyond the box", so to speak. That was also our thinking in opening T.H.E. Show Denver during CEDIA. By most observations, CEDIA concentrates primarily on the U.S. market offering the high-end home theater audience a dizzying selection of screens, sound equipment, room appointments and accessories. Once again, just as we do in Las Vegas, we offer to exhibitors, reviewers and attendees a more professional and relaxed atmosphere in which to execute Live Demos than was ever possible on a large convention floor. Our first T.H.E. Show Denver in 2006 was mildly successful considering it was our first year there, but this year we did see a rise in attendance. I suppose that is to be expected, as we become more recognized as "the place next door to the convention center with superior Live Demo capabilities." We also received a "bump" in attendance due to two large receptions we arranged at the Denver Athletic Club for Bay Audio and Polk Audio. People are beginning to realize we have some of the best facilities available for private meetings, large receptions, parties and corporate gatherings. Besides a large ballroom and rooftop Sundeck, we even have a 6 lane bowling alley available. All of our exhibitors and associates seemed pleased with the results this year and we do have room for additional Demos next year.

T.H.E. Show began at the St Tropez Hotel as the low-priced show next to CES high-end exhibits at Alex is Park: what changes have evolved in the last 10 years and how has that affected T.H.E. Show?

There seems to be a more clear distinction between T.H.E. Show and its competitors. The entire CEA seems to be evolving into a giant conglomerate, trying to satisfy the needs of many, many different factions and products within the entire burgeoning world of electronics. The wide scope of CES, CEDIA and everything falling under the CEA umbrella gained even more momentum when COMDEX disappeared. While this makes those organizations and conventions among the most influential and powerful voices within the industry, as with most large conglomerates, there is a tendency sometimes to sacrifice individual needs in the course of its otherwise hugely successful growth. Meanwhile, as T.H.E. Show becomes larger and encompasses the home theater aspect of high-end, it will remain loyal to its customer base and continue supplying better service, better exhibitor options and better pricing. At the large conventions, very large corporations with unlimited financial resources spend tens of thousands, just to be noticed. At T.H.E. Show, small to medium sized manufacturers and distributors can still afford to be noticed and the larger, more secure corporations know they can easily attain a "spotlight" position. Sometimes forgotten is the fact that companies like Sony, Phillips and Microsoft have all displayed at T.H.E. Show when introducing new innovations.

CES / CEDIA and CEA have grown and changed a lot in the last ten years: Has T.H.E. Show changed?

Definitely. We are constantly trying to improve our "image" and our first class services. We don't think exhibiting at a Trade Show should be a burden but, rather, more an opportunity to highlight one's product while, at the same time, network with industry professional from across the globe. Not surprisingly, many of our new exhibitors in 2008 will come from all over Asia and Europe. Many of these companies have just begun marketing in the U.S. during these mega-conventions and word has filtered through that T.H.E. Show is the place to be. We have an Asian T.H.E. Show Representative in Japan who is doing a great job of disseminating information about our show and arranges not just exhibiting possibilities but supplies the clients with travel and accommodations advice. We have expanded our "International Building" concept this year, giving special attention to those newly-arrived clients from overseas. And, we supply an interpreter.

Further: users will find our website extremely easy to navigate. Thanks to our top-notch web designer and Administration Manager, Chuck Cavanaugh and his partners at UPD Media, exhibitors can go to www.theshowlasvegas.com, view the overview map of the 2 hotels, rooms along with dimensions, electrical outlets, furniture removal options, etc AND book the Exhibit rooms right there on-line and set-up a payment plan that suits their situation. Our site also is streamlined to help attendees find their way around, retain sleeping accommodations without trading in their first-born and find everything at T.H.E. Show without difficulty. Also, going up on our website main page, even as we speak are two items we have never tried before. One, due to the fact that we acquired Alexis Park as a partner rather late in the day (April, to be precise), many exhibitors were already committed for Exhibit space in January, 2008. We anticipate that many of those, unhappy at other locales may join us in 2009. For that reason we are activating a "Non-Obligation" Waiting List for exhibitors who may not be able to participate in T.H.E. Show 2008 but want to in 2009. Naturally, our returning exhibitors will be offered "first choice" and then we'll go to the 2009 Prospective Exhibitors on the list. Secondly, our expert in web technology and design, Chuck, just can't help improving our website. He has now designed T.H.E. Show Blog. It can be found on our web page and it will be an extremely useful tool for industry observers, insiders and manufacturers. Looking for a certain part for your product? Try using the blog. Looking for a certain manufacturer or product you've seen at T.H.E. Show (and you've lost your T.H.E. Show Source Book), try asking on the Blog. Just want to "vent" (and goodness knows, audiophiles love to "vent"), try T.H.E, Show Blog. It is now there for networking, business needs, complaining and just plain news worth sharing with the rest of the Audiophile and high-end Audio and Home Theater community.

On a different front, we're pleased that this year, we can offer companies and industry related institutions banquet space and reception areas. With the acquisition of Alexis Park we now can host large and small social events and meeting facilities: everything from the Giant roof-top outdoor Reception area with the beautiful Las Vegas skyline as a back-drop, to sit-down dining experiences to small meeting spaces. Those interested need only to contact us, at T.H.E. Show to make arrangements with the hotel.

How about the industry ... how has that changed in the last 5 or 10 years?

T.H.E. Show, as well as many shows throughout the worldwide community began as simply high-end, 2-channel analog "sound" shows. No one does that better, by the way, in my opinion than the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, a "public" show that attracts thousands every fall. In fact, Rocky Mountain officials, with whom we associate ourselves and share both industry news and clientele, readily admit that their show was based loosely around the same concepts as T.H.E. Show. While we are separately owned and operated, we both share our philosophies of highlighting the finest in high-end audio while supplying the best in services, ease of exhibiting and accessibility to our customers and attendees. Over the years, however, many of our exhibitors, out of necessity to address the growing audience of distinctive tastes seeking high-end audio AND home theater, have changed and adapted to a new audience of TOTAL high-end sound configurations. While we will continue to cater to our base, we are attempting to grow and change along with our clients' products. Having acquired Alexis Park in Las Vegas, we are now able to grow five-fold so don't be surprised to see more and more home theater exhibits mixed in with global innovations in audio. A first this year: magazine ads, not just in Stereophile, Absolute Sound and other industry related publications but also in Wide Screen Review. Unless someone can convince us otherwise, however, don't look for the latest I-Pods or Musical Skate Boards. That's not what we are about and everyone knows it.

As a convention specialist and someone involved in the high-end industry for some time now, what are you observations for the future?

Almost everything has changed in the last ten years and the high-end audio and home theater industry is no different. Although Big Box stores serve a definite purpose and will always be around, people are tired of being "herded," particularly the high-end crowd. Many in today's "leveraged and all-encompassing" corporate world are beginning to realize that if one wants "specialized and custom" items and services, one has to look beyond the giant, unyielding outlets (in this case, beyond the "zoo" and its miles and miles of sometimes unrelated product offerings). Even Wal-Mart has begun a new concept of building separate stores within its giant outlets, each specializing in a particular product line. Soon, consumers won't have to weed through the never-ending miles of varying departments all squished together to locate whatever it is they came to purchase. The same will hold true when it comes to conventions. Right now, there are just too many conventions. The ones that will remain will offer the finest in services, notoriety and distinctiveness. Exhibitors and attendees know that these venues have history, tradition and long-time reputation of being home to the latest innovations in the industry. And, in the case of both T.H.E. Show and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, industry reviewers attend in increasing numbers, confident that they'll be "hearing and/or seeing" Live Demonstrations of the best that the industry has to offer with minimal distractions. In short: it's high-end audio and home theater presented as it was meant to be enjoyed and savored. Personally, I foresee a down-turn in most aspects of the US economy for the next several years which will, of course, affect and alter our industry. Only those willing to change and accept the fact that "it's a new world" will survive.

Do you have any key advice to new companies getting ready for their first show?

Although giant advertising campaigns are great, if you are without unlimited financial backing, do it "smart," not splashy. I have seen many, many companies come in with a big Bang and leave the scene quickly. Grow into it. Utilize all the industry news outlets such as Home Toys, Internet Blogs, etc. to get the "Buzz" going about your product. Utilize every e-mail mailing list you can lay your hands on to make attendees aware of your existence. Place small, but unique advertisements in industry magazines. And, court the reviewers. They can make or break your company. This is a very small community. That helps as well as hinders. If you have confidence in your product then let 'it' do the talking for you. Just make sure that you're in the right place to be noticed. The best marketing plans I've seen seem to be the ones that include a presence on the main convention floors, and then having a respectable, stand-out live demonstration at a facility such as those provided by T.H.E. Show. Reviewers don't like to be distracted by outside noise, congestion and other attendees trying to talk above the demo. This kind of displaying isn't respectful of your product, nor of those trying to enjoy. The big conglomerate companies have the resources to build a huge, double-decker display "house" with dancing girls and 1001 flashing banners drawing people in. You probably don't. Don't even try to compete on that level. You'll lose. Quickly. And, try not to just "display and brag". Everyone does it. Everyone is the best. Just ask them if you don't believe it. Make your "convention" experience truly worthwhile by doing the appropriate networking. Make sure you bring enough people to tend to your display, while you concentrate on making the "right" connections. Connect with reputable, knowledgeable and experience distributors. Once again, give special attention to the reviewers. Invite them to a "late night" or "closed" demonstration. Walk around and find other product manufacturers who you think your product may "marry well." The next thing you know, you'll have more connections, more press and more attention, ultimately resulting in more sales. If I can pat "our" own back, by the way, "networking" is a large part of what T.H.E. Show is all about: Audiophiles and high-end home theater leaders sharing their music, their likes, their dislikes and everything from their designs right through to their marketing plans and new ideas. One of the reasons I took an interest in T.H.E. Show originally was because it seemed extremely "club-like." Everyone knew each other and they were happy to share their experiences, both good and bad. Our popular Free Lunch allows industry people to sit quietly and network while enjoying a diverse and great buffet, sitting in a calm, tropical setting. Because people aren't "shoved" from crowded exhibit to crowded exhibit, they are afforded the time to be truly introspective, friendly and thoughtful. We also allow exhibitors to demonstrate during evening and "off" hours. And, this year, we are adding 100's of sleeping accommodations at the Alexis Park, and also Live Jazz bands nightly in the lounge: yet another venue for some valuable networking. This is time "well-spent" rather than being herded around the Poker Room, Wheel of Fortune Slot Bank and searching "endlessly" for a quiet place to hold a meaningful conversation.

How about some advice for those of us who attend shows and need to make the most out of our time?

CEDIA is easy. Prior to getting on the airplane, study the CEDIA website and T.H.E. Show websites to see which companies are displaying that are "must-sees". Spend the first full day at the main convention center and pick up all the dailies on the convention floor (you can weed through these later back in your hotel room). This schedule can be altered, by the way, depending on your mood. One really should be in a patient and relaxed mood before beginning the nerve-jangling trip across the convention floor. Then, dedicate at least one half day at T.H.E. Show next door, enjoying the solitude and true live demo experience we all know, love and appreciate. Then, you have one and a half days to go back and target those interests you have noted during the first two days.

CES is entirely different. You really MUST do your homework. Give yourself a lot, and I mean "a lot" of time to get through the CES website. If you are setting your goals on only visiting high-end audio and home theater exhibits, narrow your sites on The Tower (these are the best), floors 2, 3 & 4 within the Sands Mezzanine (unless they have wisely chosen to move those sound-challenged exhibits elsewhere) and somewhere in the South Hall of the LV convention center. I believe the high-end exhibits have now been dubbed "High-Performance" but there does seem to be some confusion whether this refers to high-end audio and home theater or tires. Oh, and try not to spend too much time "being distracted by shiny objects" along the way. Try to spend one full day at T.H.E. Show. You will not only find the experience "mood altering" but will see the finest in global innovations, as well as unique exhibits "setting the benchmarks" for the industry in years to come. (The folks at the big conventions can't afford to take many chances. For the money they're spending, they want to display what they believe will sell. And sell big.) Worried about the expense of traveling and just surviving the convention? T.H.E. Show offers many accommodations alternatives, some as low as $79 nightly (if you're just looking for somewhere to sleep). Rooms at Alexis Park and the nearby newly-remodeled Embassy Suites are also reasonable. Las Vegas, of which I have been a resident since 1989, takes serious "advantage" of this convention, jacking up prices on everything from hotel rooms to food to popular shows. Try to plan ahead and spend wisely. Of course, if you have access to that "bottomless" corporate credit card, the Wynn, Bellagio and Mandalay Bay are all lovely and a new (and pricey) dining experience is around every corner with each dish prepared especially for you by the hands of a world-renown master chef who was brought to Vegas at great expense. "Just for you". As a "local", some of my best dining recommendations occur "off the Strip". Fellini's on Charleston, for example (Italian). Or, Pamplemousse just one block off the Strip east on Sahara Avenue (Traditional French cuisine for over 30 years). Hugo's downtown in the cellar at 4 Queens is still an exceptional dining experience, as is The Steakhouse at Circus, Circus if you can fight your way through the baby carriages. Business lunch suggestions: Cili's in the clubhouse just south of Mandalay Bay and the Top of the Stratosphere which is much less expensive for lunch and still extends its glorious, panoramic views (just without the lights).

For years, CES seemed "less than receptive" to T.H.E. Show: has that "apparent animosity" changed???

I'm not sure how to answer that. In the begin, we all know CES at Alexis resented our taking over the hotel right next door and offering good services at lower pricing. But, now that they have moved into The Venetian and Main Convention area, I think we are just an after-thought. Although I'm sure they would like us to go out of business so they could raise their prices, they have much bigger fish to fry at this point. One reviewer said of their move and interest in our community as "the least important segment of CES". I agree, but, at the same time, one has to admire their growth. Let's face it, without these huge, monolithic organizations and conventions, there would be no T.H.E. Show. We will always appreciate that fact. But, throughout the last decade, as they grow larger and larger, they grow less responsive to the needs of this product line within the wide world of electronics to which they also must cater. Simply put: we can do the job better, for less. It's not that they don't "care." It is just "the nature of the beast." Mike and I once approached officials within CEA to see if there was a way we could work together to better serve the Audiophile community at large and, at the same time, share increased profits by consolidating our efforts. It wasn't that they weren't interested: it was that they didn't know "who" in the giant conglomerate to approach first. We decided simply to continue doing what we've always done. We never heard from them again. Besides, I think the competition, such as it is, is good for any industry. To draw a bad analogy, when McDonald's starting cropping up all over the country, did it hurt much when Wendy's, Burger King and Taco Bell started building next door? Hardly. It then became a larger "destination." T.H.E. Show is a "destination," just as is CES or CEDIA and bringing more people to town for the event; no matter their loyalties, interests or tastes can't be a bad thing for all concerned.

Is T.H.E. Show involved with any charitable organizations?

Over the past few years we have tried to raise funds and awareness for several individual members of our community: firstly for a member of the Misty River Band who entertained at T.H.E. Show and, shortly afterwards, contracted a treatable form of leukemia (who is doing fine now, by the way) and the family of Terry Cain, a devoted and innovative speaker manufacturer who died suddenly just a year or two ago. Recently, one of our exhibitors was involved in the Colorado AIDS Walk during T.H.E. Show Denver and we supported his efforts with a small donation. But the project I am truly excited about is the ELF Foundation. ELF was brought to my attention during T.H.E. Show Denver by one of the people at Stereophile magazine. They attempt, strictly by donations of equipment and funding to supply hospitals and medical treatment facilities with large home theaters for teenagers going through life-threatening conditions and treatments. It offers a venue for these young adults to "escape" their everyday trials and burdens for a few hours and enjoy themselves, at least temporarily. We at T.H.E. Show believe in this concept deeply and would love to see it extended to other age groups and many more medical facilities. We haven't nailed down the exact details of "how" we can help, but we will be supporting their magnanimous efforts in some small way.

Richard Beers

Native:  Detroit, Mich

Henry Ford College
US Army: 1969-1971
1971 - 1980 NBC affiliate in Detroit - WDIV-TV and CNN contributor:  Started as editor/producer/writer; last four years Reporter/Anchor
1980 - 1986 Food & Beverage positions in S. California & related Public Relations & Promotions
1986 - 1996 Research Systems Corporation, Evansville, Ind.  Field & Seminar Supervisor - Marketing Research for proposed television series/commercials.  Set up and supervised over 100 markets in US, Canada, Europe and Mexico
1996 - 2002 Public Relations and Supervisor - Las Vegas, NV Food & Beverage companies including Strip properties; Destination Management Company
Member: NV Food & Beverage Directors Association (Non-Profit - Raising funds for scholarships and community "help" organizations such as Opportunity Village (mentally challenged community members); DARE; Habitat for Humanity, etc.
2002 - present: T.H.E. Show, The Home Entertainment Show; 2yrs as Las Vegas Director of Operations, then President

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