Weak ASIS 2015 Show Upsets Manufacturers

By John Honovich, Published Oct 02, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Though ASIS is supposed to be dedicated to security professionals, their main customer base and revenue source ($10+ million) is manufacturers.

Manufacturers each pay tens to hundreds of thousands for booths plus around a million to sponsor various aspects of the show, e.g., $50,000 for their signs in the aisle, $3,500 to put their logo on a golf ball, $6,000 to sponsor notepads (pens not included), etc.

However, manufacturers overall feel strongly that they are not getting their money's worth.

In this note, we share survey results from 50+ manufacturers, detailed commentary on the problem and our analysis on what this means for the future of ASIS.

Even Trade Mags Criticize

Trade magazines generally steer clear of any negativity but this was so obvious they were compelled to acknowledge it.

SecuritySales pulled no punches:

"most electronic security-oriented booths were sparsely populated by attendees and vendors almost universally expressed their disappointment to Security Sales & Integration, which estimates the expo attendance at 15,000-18,000."

SourceSecurity was more diplomatic about the problem:

"Foot traffic improved a little on the second day of ASIS International in Anaheim, California. Furthermore, the high quality of meetings at the big industry show tended to overshadow complaints about attendance"

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And Security Today found an upside to the decline [link no longer available]:

"Today's tradeshow seems a lot smaller than those in the past. This bodes well for me because I can talk to just about anyone, at any time. The exhibitors run hot and cold for booth visitors."

Manufacturer Stats

In IPVM's overnight survey of 50+ manufacturers, the results were overwhelmingly negative. Answering the question "In general, what did you think of ASIS 2015?":

Indeed, this was much worse than the survey results from ASIS 2014, which were negative but not as overwhelmingly negative as for 2015.

Criticisms from Manufacturers

Over and over, manufacturers complained about the show's performance:

  • "Not satisfied at all. Very little traffic in the exhibition area. Smallest lead count ever."
  • "Seemed very down over prior year"
  • "Traffic on the show floor was very light."
  • "Overall the attendee drops quite a bit. Most of them are local or they did not visit ISC west show, so they drop by."
  • "I know what the ASIS attendance stats indicate but the consensus in talking to our neighbors as well all of us who have been exhibiting at this show for many years is the attendance has been diminishing year over year and the "usefulness" is little." [Note: ASIS no longer offers audited attendance numbers as they did in year's past]
  • "The attendance was very light. Day 1 and 2 felt like the 3rd day at ISC.... Also, make Tuesday DAY ONE. People don't like to travel on Sunday. Why do I need to explain this stuff???"
  • "Very few integrators, consultants and end users from the Northeast. Most exhibitors we talked to thought traffic was light."
  • "This show was marginal. Our booth traffic was higher than most, but still disappointing given the cost and investment of this show. If it were not for preset meetings (which we set up that were awesome), there would be discussion about cutting things back for this show."
  • "We were satisfied with the number of quality meetings with new and prospective partners that were scheduled prior to the show. We were dissatisfied with the traffic on the show floor an anticipate maintaining a small booth strategy at ASIS moving forward."
  • "The management experience for us was the worst I've had in my 9 years of being a manufacturer. I expect to have things go wrong during a show, but at this show everything went wrong. The traffic overall seemed light, but the saving grace for us was that there was a lot of interest in what we are doing so our booth traffic was higher than most."
  • "Other than the appearance of a reunion for vendors, it's not clear why vendors continue to participate."
  • "Unsatisfied. Foot traffic was beyond stagnant as far as attendees was concerned."

Down Future

The ASIS conference / exhibits are in the midst of a clear downward trend compared to ISC West which has managed to remain relatively steady attendance. ASIS, by contrast, is notably below the attendance levels of a decade ago, despite the industry being far larger now.

One aspect is the recent rate of poor new product releases, and for that, manufacturers only have themselves to blame.

However, the more fundamental shift is that, with the rise of the Internet (including manufacturers providing immense information on their own products online), going to trade shows to learn about new things (which is generally cited as the #1 reason to attend) is much less neccessary and far costlier. Certainly, there remains an important role for trade shows to conducting business, especially larger partnerships and larger customers but the amount of shows and the amount spent of a previous era gets harder and harder to justify.

ASIS Impact

The ASIS organization is built upon the millions from manufacturers (and their legion of unpaid volunteer security managers). For background, see ASIS Financials Investigated.

Now, ASIS is in the midst of selecting a new CEO, their first in over 20 years. This is a critical junction for an organization who is seeing their main revenue source decline.

UPDATE - Preliminary Numbers Shared

ASIS says attendance was 17,484, down ~10% from last year's 19,000+ attendance. Note, both numbers are unaudited so keep that in mind. Also, those numbers include ~7,000 manufacturer exhibitors, making the true end user / integrator number far lower.

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