Sunday, March 29, 2015

Twin trade shows fill Philadelphia's Convention Center

The biggest trade shows that the Convention Center will host in 2009 attracted more than 20,000 people to Philadelphia.

Twin trade shows fill Philadelphia's Convention Center

The Convention Center generally holds two kinds of big events: Public shows and trade shows.

Public shows, like the flower show and auto show, welcome the masses to ooooh and aaaah over the exhibits.

Trade shows are inwardly focused on a certain industry sector, and their attendees are business customers. Short of not being able to get a decent hotel room, the public often isn’t aware that there’s a big show in town.

Yesterday, the biggest trade show Philadelphia will see this year wound down. Actually, it was two shows simultaneously - the On Demand Conference & Expo and the AIIM International Exposition & Conference.

That’s a mouthful for events devoted to digital printing and document management. Walking around the exhibit halls, I saw hardware companies - Xerox and Canon - side-by-side in the On Demand section. Logos of software makers Microsoft and Oracle anchored AIIM’s area.

It’s a technology-fest, but without the bloated scale of a Consumer Electronics Show or the fun quotient of the video-game industry’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.

After all, the more than 375 exhibitors are all about documents - managing, storing and delivering them efficiently and inexpensively.

Many vendors carry West Coast addresses, but there were a few local firms with booths, such as King of Prussia paper distributor Lindenmeyr Munroe and West Philadelphia’s The Neat Co., makers of document-scanners.

Questex Media Group Inc., which produces the annual events, estimates more than 20,000 people attended over three days. Group conference director Tom Bliss was happy that, in the teeth of a recession, the shows drew so well.

It’s good for Philadelphia that it did too, since we’re doubling down on our Convention Center investment. The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the economic impact from these shows to be $17.1 million.

The shows first came to Philadelphia in 2005 and 2006 at a time when the Convention Center needed a “win” after some lean years without major trade shows.

After spending 2007 and 2008 at Boston’s new convention center, Questex brought On Demand/AIIM back to Philadelphia for 2009 and 2010. Where it goes next hasn’t been decided.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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