Deceptive ASIS Attendance

By John Honovich, Published Oct 06, 2017, 09:35am EDT

ASIS is being deceptive with its conference reporting, effectively inflating the event's real actual attendance.

What they try, but struggle to do, is report 'registrants' but, as our examples below show, they clearly are misrepresenting it as actual attendees.

Registrants Vs Attendees

Actual attendance is historically ~17% less than registrants reported, thousands of attendees less, so the difference is material.

Here is the claim from their post-2017 event press release:

Whatever 'attracting' they claim, it was far less than 22,000 that were 'attracted' to Dallas during that week.

Registrants represent anyone who registers online, often for free, whereas attendees are only the people who actually physically showed up at the event, e.g., this year in Dallas. For the companies spending $10+ million on this event, what they care about is real physical attendees.

Deceptive Examples

Start with ASIS' CEO, who last week during the event, on camera, claimed that their conference 'pulls about 22,000 people every year':

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They clearly did not 'pull' 22,000 'people' to the event. Unfortunately, even ASIS CEO gets caught up in the deception between attendees and registrants.

He is not alone. Here is an ASIS board of director member saying explictly 22,000 attendees:

And here is from ASIS own event website that, yet again, says 22,000 professionals at the event.

This is unfortunately not new at ASIS, as we reported earlier in the year, examples including:

And:

Deviation From Standards and Their Own History

For whatever reason, ASIS has decided to deceive and retreat from both event standards and their own historical approach.

For example, for the 2015 show, ASIS reported actual physical attendance:

Registration for ASIS 2015 totaled more than 21,000. Verified preliminary attendance was 17,484 which was below expectations

And ASIS main competitor, ISC West, consistently reports actual attendees.

Do Better

ASIS is doing better on some fronts. Reaction was positive for having former President Bush, Mark Cuban and the reception at the Cowboy's AT&T stadium; even exhibitor satisfaction, though still not great, improved in 2017.

It is unfair and below the standards of security professionals to deceive about attendance. ASIS can certainly do better here.

2 reports cite this report:

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IPVM went to Chicago for ASIS GSX 2019, with many exhibitors disappointed...

Comments (20)

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I can't report the violations because I am no longer an ASIS member :)

ASIS CPP code of conduct... "Observe the precepts of truthfulness, honesty, and integrity."

ASIS Membership code of ethics... "A member shall observe the precepts of truthfulness, honesty, and integrity."

"A member who knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe, that another member has failed to conform to Code of Ethics of ASIS should inform the Ethical Standards Council in accordance with Article VIII of the Bylaws."

 

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I strongly agree that the true attendance should be stated. Do keep in mind that many of us attend the conference for the classes they offer, which are very relevant, so the amount of attendees on the Expo floor may be minimal. This is a very expensive event for dealers and manufacturers so maybe it is time to look at scaling back and making it a purely educational event in a smaller venue. Just a thought. 

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This is a very expensive event for dealers and manufacturers so maybe it is time to look at scaling back and making it a purely educational event in a smaller venue.

John, good feedback, interesting thought. I think a purely education event for ASIS would be more appropriate.

However, from a money perspective, the revenue ASIS generates from booth sales, advertising and sponsorships from manufacturers subsidizes most everything else ASIS does. If they lost a significant amount of that, ASIS would have to significantly change other parts of their operation.

For reference, here is ASIS 2015 financial report. ASIS revenue is just under $29 million of which nearly $16 million is from the seminar and ~$2.5 million from publishing, the large majority of that revenue comes from booths, sponsorships, advertising, etc.

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Yea, that would be tough to make up. I didn't realize this, it is their lifeblood. 

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I have been attending ASIS/GSX some 15 or so times in the last 20 years. During that time I have been increasingly disappointed with both the exhibit hall and the educational sessions. I decided not to attend based on last years experience in Vegas. I signed up for 7 educational sessions. For two of the sessions, the speakers didn't bother showing up. GSX staff eventually came in 15 to 20 minutes after the scheduled start times to inform everyone that the speakers could not be located. For the remaining 5 sessions, I found very little value. Seems like too much time is spent on speaker bios in an effort to justify someones credibility and too little time demonstrating actual credibility thru content. From an exhibition hall perspective, it seemed hard to go for any length of time without a hard sell from some vendor walking around hocking cell phone accessories. I guess for the money I spend on a membership, travel to the conference and the conference itself...I expect more. If GSX does not curate this show in some manner, than it is just a collection of poorly categorized stuff at best and dishonestly categorized stuff at its worst, interrupted from time to time by speakers that you hope show up, and then at times regret that they did. This is harsh, but I wanted to get the perspective of someone out there that is making a statement by discontinuing a tradition of attendance until they demand better of themselves.

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When I first went to ASIS in 2010, I went to at least one session per day, and I would say the majority were worth attending. I was an integrator at the time and deliberately chose mostly non-systems sessions to round out my knowledge. There was a really good Randy Atlas CPTED session, a good session on lighting design, and a couple on process/risk/policy that I got a lot out of.

When I look at the schedule now, it doesn't seem nearly as interesting, more like marketing pitches. Hearing that presenters don't show up is also a terrible sign.

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With so much out there and so many ways to get education , it is really tough to keep up the same venue and expect better returns. 

The wow effect keeps getting harder and harder to achieve. 

The expectation level of people in general has achieved an all time high for the amount of investment required. 

Time is the element 

Pleasure is the passion 

and persuit is the Dream

We keep getting the same levels of display , 

some getting more advanced , and some using the same old platforms to try to achieve a better outcome. 

I think its time to rethink the show s and restructure to meet the challenges of the industry , not show and tell time. 

Set higher goals for R&D , Less on purchasing old ways of thinking. 

and then its coordinating around current events and seasons for successful participation . 

 

 

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Interesting observation shared on LinkedIn:

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ASIS member unhappy with IPVM's coverage:

We are not attacking the 'organization', we are criticizing a specific action with numerous pieces of evidence to support our analysis. If anyone has counters to our evidence or analysis, feel free to share here or email us at info@ipvm.com We are quite confident in our analysis and evidence as we we have reviewed this issue with ASIS multiple times this year.

If ASIS is a strong organization, they will simply discontinue the 'registrant' tactic, report actual attendance and move on.

 

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If anyone has counters to our evidence... We are quite confident in our analysis and evidence as we we have reviewed this issue with ASIS multiple times this year.

I can only offer this as (somewhat feeble) counter:

Except for the statement where they say "online registrants", all the other examples, the ones claiming "attendees", are forward looking statements made in anticipation of the event and so are optimistic.

If you have a wedding and 100 guests say they're coming, you better have a meal for 100 people, even though typically only 80 will come.  And you wouldn't be criticized for saying you're having 100 guests, before the wedding, nor for saying you invited 100, after the wedding.

Like I said, somewhat feeble...

 

 

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If they wanted to make it forward looking, they could have qualified it as 'expected', ASIS remarks are declarative, e.g.:

Also, ASIS CEO comment about "pulls about 22,000 people every year" was made during the ASIS 2017 show. 

  • The ASIS 2015 show certainly did not pull 22,000 people.
  • The ASIS 2016 show certainly did not pull 22,000 people.
  • And it is hard to believe the CEO did not know during the event that the 2017 show did not 'pull' 22,000.
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Just as a counter, as a vendor, we didn't have a clue if there is 22,000 attendees or 15,000 attendees. What we saw was a lot more qualified people come by our booth and like what they saw.

That was the goal we were looking for to attend to the show and we walked away with good quality leads to follow up on. From that measurement, ASIS produced a good show.

Before the show we were hesitant to return because we anticipated there would be a light turnout, but because of the strong showing of the qualified prospects, we renewed and will be returning next year.

Just wanted to point that out as a different point of view.

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George, good feedback. Thanks.

I do agree that ultimately the number of leads obtained is more important than pure people.

However, the total number of people who attend is an important factor in lead generation. For example, manufacturers consistently say they get more leads from ISC West and part of that is the sheer greater number of people who attend that show.

Also, the fact that ASIS has taken such pains to report registrants as attendees implies that they too know the attendance number is an important point to market their show.

ASIS can certainly market / claim about the quality of its attendees without having to resort with inflating a clear quantitative metric.

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The Hikvision blog endorses the obviously deceptive 22,000 number:

Well played Hikvision!

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Its about time that ASIS stopped being a glorified book store, and started helping the industry it claims to represent. Surely ASIS efforts would be far greater to the industry (both interrogator's and end user's) if it worked to get a nationally recognized vocational school and/or apprenticeship program started.

Our industry biggest weakness is the lack of skilled technicians and service personnel. Both end user and integrator would be better off with more people coming into our industry at the entry level with some basics relevant to our industry.

It would stop the inflationary practice of poaching technicians, and give interrogators a talent pool to to hire from leaving more future members for ASIS to sell books to!!

 

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Its about time that ASIS stopped being a glorified book store, and started helping the industry it claims to represent... Our industry biggest weakness is the lack of skilled technicians and service personnel

I think ASIS views itself more as an organization for security directors, managers and guards vs security technical people, so I would not expect them to consider that.

SIA is working on this but not sure how successful they will be. There #1 step is to give SIA memberships to students...

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I think the choice of venues for next year may also kill them as many in the industry are already moaning about going to Las Vegas twice next year (ISC West in April and ASIS 2018 in September)!

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Update: ASIS continues its deception in their new 2018 brochure:

It is amazing that ASIS continues to refuse to report how many actually attended the event.

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I'm surprised nobody is talking about the CEO of Jacobs (Tuesday Keynote Speaker) spending 15-20 minutes talking about how great of company they are and their 50,000 employees all have a voice about how the company is ran. Typically ASIS will allow you to make a 1-2 minute intro on your company before you start talking about something constructive to the security market. There were quite a few people walking out before they were complete selling their company to the "22,000" attendees.

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Thanks for the feedback. We did not go to any of the keynotes as they generally are uninteresting, though what you are describing is even worse.

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