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.