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 ***** **** *********

***** ********* ********* ***** clear ** *** ********** but **** *** ** obvious **** **** ********* to *********** **.

******************* ** *******:

"**** ********** ********-******** ****** weresparsely ********* by attendees and vendors almost universally expressed their ************************ ***** & ***********, ***** ********* *** expo ********** ** **,***-**,***."

************** *** **** *************** *** *******:

"**** ******* ******** * little ** *** ****** day ** **** ************* in *******, **********. ***********, the **** ******* ** meetings ** *** *** industry **** ****** ** overshadowcomplaints ***** **********"

*** ******** ***** ***** an ****** ** *** decline [**** ** ****** available]:

"*****'* ********* ***** *lot ******* 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 *****

** ****'* ********* ****** of **+ *************, *** results **** ************** ********. Answering *** ******** "** *******, **** *** you ***** ** **** 2015?":

******, **** *** **** worse **** ********* ******* **** **** 2014, ***** **** ******** but *** ** ************** negative ** *** ****.

Criticisms **** *************

**** *** ****, ************* ********** about *** ****'* ***********:

  • "*** ********* ** ***. Very ****** ******* ** the ********** ****. ******** lead ***** ****."
  • "****** **** **** **** prior ****"
  • "******* ** *** **** floor *** **** *****."
  • "******* *** ******** ***** quite * ***. **** of **** *** ***** or **** *** *** visit *** **** ****, so **** **** **."
  • "* **** **** *** ASIS ********** ***** ******** but *** ********* ** talking ** *** ********* as **** *** ** us *** **** **** exhibiting ** **** **** for **** ***** ** the ********** *** **** diminishing **** **** **** and *** "**********" ** little." [****: **** ** longer ****** ******* ********** numbers ** **** *** in ****'* ****]
  • "*** ********** *** **** light. *** * *** 2 **** **** *** 3rd *** ** ***.... ****, make ******* *** ***. People ***'* **** ** travel ** ******. *** do * **** ** explain **** *****???"
  • "**** *** ***********, *********** and *** ***** **** the *********. **** ********** we ****** ** ******* traffic *** *****."
  • "**** **** *** ********. Our ***** ******* *** higher **** ****, *** still ************* ***** *** cost *** ********** ** this ****. ** ** were *** *** ****** meetings (***** ** *** up **** **** *******), there ***** ** ********** about ******* ****** **** for **** ****."
  • "** **** ********* **** the ****** ** ******* meetings **** *** *** prospective ******** **** **** scheduled ***** ** *** show. ** **** ************ with *** ******* ** the **** ***** ** anticipate *********** * ***** booth ******** ** **** moving *******."
  • "*** ********** ********** *** us *** *** ***** I've *** ** ** 9 ***** ** ***** a ************. * ****** to **** ****** ** wrong ****** * ****, but ** **** **** everything **** *****. *** traffic ******* ****** *****, but *** ****** ***** for ** *** **** there *** * *** of ******** ** **** we *** ***** ** our ***** ******* *** higher **** ****."
  • "***** **** *** ********** of * ******* *** vendors, **'* *** ***** why ******* ******** ** participate."
  • "***********. **** ******* *** beyond ******** ** *** as ********* *** *********."

Down ******

*** **** ********** / exhibits *** ** *** midst ** * ***** downward ***** ******** ** ISC **** ***** *** managed ** ****** ********** steady **********. ****, ** contrast, ** ******* ***** *** attendance ****** ** * decade ***, ******* *** industry ***** *** ****** now.

*** ****** ** *** recent **** ** **** *** product ********, *** *** that, ************* **** **** themselves ** *****.

*******, *** **** *********** shift is ****, **** *** rise ** *** ******** (including ************* ********* ******* information ** ***** *** products ******), ***** ** trade ***** ** ***** about *** ****** (***** is ********* ***** ** the #* ****** ** attend) ** **** **** neccessary *** *** ********. Certainly, ***** ******* ** important **** *** ***** shows ** ********** ********, especially ****** ************ *** larger ********* *** *** amount ** ***** *** the ****** ***** ** a ******** *** **** harder *** ****** ** justify.

ASIS ******

*** **** ************ ** built **** *** ******** from ************* (*** ***** legion ** ****** ********* security ********). *** **********, see **** ********** ************.

***, **** ** ** the ***** *********** * *** ***, ***** ***** ** over ** *****. **** is * ******** ******** for ** ************ *** ** seeing ***** **** ******* source *******.

UPDATE - *********** ******* ******

******** ********** *** **,***, **** ~**% **** last ****'* **,***+ **********. Note, **** ******* *** unaudited ** **** **** in ****. ****, ***** numbers ******* ~*,*** ************ exhibitors, ****** *** **** end **** / ********** number *** *****.

Comments (41)

We might have gone if it wasn't way out in California. Yes, that'd be obvious for a company based in Florida like us, but even some people I talked to as far as Texas felt the same; they had no interest in going to California. Maybe a poll of integrators and end users who didn't go, but say they would have gone if it were a little less Westward (say Las Vegas or Colorado), more central (maybe Texas, Kansas, Missouri) or East (maybe Florida, Georgia or the Carolina's).

You know how happy all the Californians I know were? :)

Location is definitely one factor, and for sure, this hurt East Coasters and Europeans who had a much farther trip. On the other hand, lots of East Coasters go to Vegas for ISC West, right?

That's something people debate, i.e., stop moving ASIS, put it in one central destination (e.g., Las Vegas). Maybe they will try that, I don't know. I doubt it will stop the underlying factors though.

Oh no, you're righ in that definitely other factors such as Internet information and teleconferencing has made the show less important for many people.

Ironically, though, I think a lot of manufacturers still have very poor presentation material on their products, either for integrators or for end users. The days of a brochure saying how great you are are long gone. Show me how it looks when you run it. What does the interface actually look like? Demonstrate this in a real world scenario.

Maybe someone at the manufacturers side really needs to sit down and think, "would our money be better spent to improve our literature A/V material?"

Agreed. Of course, the level of sophistication varies, but many manufacturers could do far better online.

One area that the manufacturers really care about when it comes to shows is lead generation. Almost every manufacturer is terrible at doing online lead generation, despite the fact that they could generate high quality leads online at a fraction of what the cost is at doing it at a trade show booth. One element they could take immediate advantage (and almost none do is LinkedIn). See: LinkedIn's Emergence as a Video Surveillance Marketing Power

I have to agree that attendance seemed low. We had steady traffic at our booth the whole time, but day 3 seemed like the whole show was employees and that you had to really look for attendees.

I am questioning the value of trade shows moving forward. It seems like it gets harder to achieve ROI every single year.

Also, to what extent is poor performance attributable to poor location? Anaheim and Philly I think were poor choices this year and 2 years ago.

They should target New York, Dallas, San Fran, LA, etc. The major metro markets and not second tourist cities like Anaheim. My 2 cents. Even with Disney Land there as an excuse to "bring the family" attendance still dropped precipitously.

"Also, to what extent is poor performance attributable to poor location? Anaheim and Philly I think were poor choices this year and 2 years ago."

I think they hurt at the margins but Atlanta and Chicago were not huge successes, either.

I wonder why ASIS does not do NY, maybe cost? Maybe can't handle the competition of ISC East!

I think it's the ADI expos that they fear!

The ASIS NYC chapter does a show at Javits every year which seems to be predominantly 10x10 booths and not a lot going on. Here's the 2016 floorplan.

Javits is relatively small, though, and I'm not sure it would properly handle ASIS even at reduced levels. It also doesn't strike me as particularly convenient in terms of lodging. Where else is there in the area?

For a security industry show, I would think that Washington, DC might be a good location. Government and military are right there in town and it's close to several large northeastern cities that are hubs of large industries like banking, (i.e. NYC and Wilmington, DE)

I also think someplace more central like Denver might be good. However, once you have to get on a plane, does it matter much if you're going halfway across the country or all the way across?

Trade shows have really become about networking with industry peers and attending all the parties which I don't mind. Sometimes attending does strenghen the relationship between us (intergator) and the manufacturer. However it's hard to trust a manufacturer on a product they are showing which won't be released for months down the road. This is the case with both ISC West and ASIS. Personally as much I enjoy Vegas, I'm little tired of going there. Being an explorer I don't mind moving around but the show location has to be central or a fun destination. Anaheim was not a good location or even worth the money. It much cheaper and easier on your feet checking lines and products out online. We picked up two lines last year by me sitting in my office and sending out 2 emails.

ASIS 2016 will be in Orlando so I'm thinking it would be worth my time to visit next year. I thought the 2011 show there was pretty good.

Wait a sec.

Manufacturers are mad because there was no foot traffic.

There was no foot traffic because people didn't think the Manufacturers had anything new to show.

Manufacturers had little new to show.


I don't want to be that guy who undermines your Aristotelian logic but...

"There was no foot traffic because people didn't think the Manufacturers had anything new to show."

There was obviously more than 'no foot traffic', it was just poor.

As for the cause being lack of new things to show, ISC West the past 2 years did much better, and it was not as if the last few years has been so tremendous. Indeed, even though ISC West 2015 was widely regarded as the best attended NA trade show in years, it still did not beat the pre-recession peak levels set more than 8 years ago. This indicates that it is a bigger issue than what is new recently.

I do agree that individually having new things is important to maximize individual traffic. For example, when we publish new things that have broad appeal, our traffic not surprisingly increases. But, traffic levels are still bound by total audience size, and with ASIS audience size continuing to decline, manufacturers are stuck in a bad situation.

...There was obviously more than 'no foot traffic', it was just poor.

Really now, what was the #2 complaint exactly? Clearly number one by a large margin was:

  • Very little traffic in the exhibition area.
  • Seemed very down over prior year.
  • Traffic on the show floor was very light
  • Overall the attendee drops quite a bit.
  • The attendance was very light
  • We were dissatisfied with the traffic on the show floor
  • Foot traffic was beyond stagnant

And we can only blame the manufacturers for what they are in control of, namely the exhibition floor content...

Had they delivered the goods, then they would be in a stronger position to argue that the show was "weak". ("The leads are weak?")

Remember, the number one reason given by IPVM for not attending was

Few significant new products are being released and what is new, we cover in-depth anyway.

So if the manufacturers don't provide a reason for people to come, like you, what do they expect? Training seminar people?

I attend a show like this to sell something or to learn something. The "good ol' boy" networking is good if your looking for a job or just to catch up.

I think the US economy is flat lining and that's reflected by the attendance. Go to CPSE to see what the world is coming to.

"Go to CPSE to see what the world is coming to."

Speaking of which, Ethan Is Going To China For 2 Weeks And To CPSE

Consider another perspective. The show is seminars and exhibits. Could it be that the attendees are more focused than ever on the seminar side and less on the exhibits?

A couple items that may point in this direction include the increasing number of ASIS members becoming certified in one of the three offered "board certifications."

So, a member who does the "full seminar/exhibit" attendance receives 32 CPE points toward recertification. When you consider you only need 60 CPE credits every three years to maintain your certification, going to the show is the simplest way to attain a boatload of them (as opposed to 1CPE for a 1 hour webinar, lecture, etc....)

In other words, what drives ASIS members to the show is maybe increasingly having less to do with exhibits and new products, and more with education, collegiality, having one's employer foot the bill, and certification credits.

Sure, it could be that. The last ASIS audited numbers are from 2012 but they show that trend somewhat:

Also note, even back then the ~20,000 was still roughly 40% manufacturer exhibitors!

It may be that attendees are spending more time in the conference but, even so, it still is a problem for manufacturers and for ASIS itself, who depends on the manufacturers for most of the revenue and probably all of the profits that goes back to fund ASIS internally.

I have never really cared, but that is an interesting chart. I have always read the number....whatever it is ...XXXXX attendees. I just assumed that did not include manufacturers. Again, none of my business how they report, and I don't have a dog on the fight, but that is misleading. Frankly I struggle to find a good comparison in 30 seconds. If you hosted a customer centric party and had 100 of your own employees there, you can hardly claim victory when you announce 200 were present.

or better yet, dozens went to the funeral, but that included the funeral home staff, the grave diggers, the lawn care staff and the family.

Mark, all, here is the same breakdown for ISC West, latest available:

Notice that very few pay to go to their conference as attendees are primarily there to visit the boothes.

The value is just not there. I get 30 emails a day from manufacturers on the latest/greatest and the cost of the trip doubles over normal travel to exactly the same place (that's not ASIS's fault, that is the local economy trying to over-profit). I don't care about booth babes, private dinners, games, cruises etc. When my kids were young enough to enjoy Disney, they were in school in October. Even is they were not, when I go, I am working, not playing.

Let's not forget this either; the cost of the classes, if you are an ASIS member have gotten out of reach and are starting to lack in relevance to what we have to do for our customers. Manufacturer technical knowledge, respectfully ladies and gentlemen, is for the most part absent at the show. I need to know how it works!

Lastly and again, with all due respect, 2/3 of the US population still lives east of the Mississippi river. This is easy math. I go to Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, and San Antonio (really enjoy the city). I am actually not allowed to go back to Vegas (or the country of Mexico).

Opinions from a consultant:

1. Since I have an ASIS certification, attending is a way to get a bunch of credits.

2. Manufacturers tell me about new product releases on their visits to my office.

3. My employer pays for me to go to 1 BICSI conference every 3 years because BICSI makes that a requirement for recertification. Even though 1 out of 3 years is not required for an ASIS recert, my company will pay for it. The one I choose is almost exclusively selected on location. I had no interest in Anaheim, I will prob go to Orlando.

4. The primary benefit, besides credits, it attending the seminars. Exhibit hall does not do a lot for me.

5. They could cut costs by eliminating the sit down lunches, keynote speakers... Unless they are being completely sponsored, but that is just another thing that manufacturers pay for where they are not getting a return.

4, good feedback!

"They could cut costs by eliminating the sit down lunches, keynote speakers... Unless they are being completely sponsored"

I don't think the keynote costs are completely covered by sponsors. There are definitely sponsorships but having well known speakers is very expensive. Speaker fees are easily $50,000 even for people who are not even that well known. For example, Colin Powell, 2014 ASIS keynote and clearly famous person has a reported fee of $100,000 to $150,000.

Maybe that draws people in a sufficient number of people to justify, I don't know.

Your reference to the classes "starting to lack in relevance" I agree with 100%. I do not have an ASIS certification, but in the past I did pay to go to the training/seminars/classes (depending on what year it was and what buzz word was popular). I have found most of the classes/seminars worthless. I stopped paying and just attended meetings that were all set up before I even stepped out on the floor. Much better experience that way.

Now if I did have an ASIS certification I am sure I would grit my teeth and sit through the seminars to get my credits.

Though, from what I can tell, the ASIS classes skew more to CPP 'type' material than security technology coverage. Perhaps those that want more general security management training, find it useful. Here's the session list.

However, on the technology side, their classes are brutal, as if technology people want to pay to hear Axis and Genetec sales people teach them how to migrate to IP video.

I attended this year's show and found the classes to be a little dissappointing. In previous years, there always seemed to be at least two or three interesting classes in each time slot, and the problem was picking the one you liked best. This year, there were many time slots where I had a hard time finding anything at all of interest.

ASIS partnered up with (ISC)2 Security Congress, so many of the classes had an IT security slant. During the one luncheon that I attended, many of the people at the table were IT security folks rather than physical security folks. They seemed fascinated by the physical security products on the floor, but probably weren't the actual buyers of these products for their employers.

With regards to the exhibits, I found them to be very quiet on all three days, at least when compared to previous shows. Good news for me; I was able to quickly get attention when I visited a booth, but probably bad news for the exhibitors.

I really like the Anaheim Convention Center as a venue. It flows well, there are plenty of restrooms and refreshment stands, and even chairs where you can sit down and rest or make a phone call. I stayed at the Hilton right next door which also made coming and going very convenient.

Overall, I would give this year's ASIS show a grade of "C". It's getting harder to justify the time and expense that is required to attend.

I am an end user and go almost every year to at least one ASIS. My impression is that there is really nothing new to see. Even the seminars are getting boring where they have 3 or 4 panelists who simply state the obvious and try to slip in the odd sales pitch.

Yes I take advantage of the CPEs gained in one big clump. I spent almost all 3 days in meetings with specific vendors to review architecture and roadmaps. Day 3 is only half day since most manufacturers are trying to pack what they can and cant wait to get out of there.

I noticed a lot of blank spaces as well. ASIS for a non profit organization seems to be making a lot of money on organizing meeting areas for manufacturers and integratotors. You cannot book a meeting room without going thru ASIS. As an example I know one integrator who simply asked their customers to meet them at a local pub becuase ASIS wanted 2K$ just for a room for 1 hour.

I think ASIS is shooting themselves in the foot. So for once I am all for the manufacturers. Just think of better ways to show off your products, do more case studies that people can see the value. Dont simply say, my product is better, faster cheaper.

Vasiles, good feedback!

"Even the seminars are getting boring where they have 3 or 4 panelists who simply state the obvious and try to slip in the odd sales pitch."

One of their challenges is that the people who lead the seminars are not paid so it draws more companies who want to pitch something. The technology ones are packed with that.

"You cannot book a meeting room without going thru ASIS. As an example I know one integrator who simply asked their customers to meet them at a local pub becuase ASIS wanted 2K$ just for a room for 1 hour."

That's pretty typical with conferences. I have not dealt with ASIS, but my experience at ISC West is that they want you to rent for at least a day even if you only need a room for an hour or two. And the prices are typically thousand dollar plus and you can't bring in any outside food or beverages. At ISC West, a few years ago, they charged us $5 for each mini bottle of water :)

I fly over from Ireland every year to visit ASIS. I questioned coming again after this year's show. It's totally formulaic and repetitive. I always came for the conference but ended up spending more time at the isc2 talks as the ASIS ones were basically very stagnant with little new ideas. The reality is that real industry innovation has stagnated and a host of me too products are the now smaller entrants at the show. The "Integrator Track" was a complete misnomer with some panels seeming surprised that there were actual integrators in the audience. The credentialling talks all had basically the same people repeating the same slides. In fairness they had some interesting stuff but it didn't need repetition! Pretty poor show overall in my personal opinion.
I noticed that the upper floor workshops were very heavily attended. One thought is that ASIS did too good of a job putting together the content and did not provide enough gaps for heading downstairs. Did anyone else have a similar observation?

5, some manufacturers observed that attendance went up during breaks in the conference. How much this impacted the exhibitors this years vs past years, I don't know.

Maybe the workshops were better this year, maybe attendance was simply less overall, or maybe the conference attendees viewed the manufacturer's offering as less interesting this year? :) I don't know.

I'll make a (longer term) prediction. Whenever the next recession comes, ASIS attendance will go down under 15,000 and stay there.

The basis of this is that a similar sharp downturn happened with the last recession. Also, many manufacturers are reluctant to not show or shrink significantly unless they can use the economy as a justification.

Here is the floorplan for ASIS 2016 Orlando. Since the show is nearly a year away, obviously lots of unbooked booths:

Right now, there is only 1 lounge and no coffee spots, though this will surely grow. This year (2015), they would up with 11 lounges and 4 coffee spots, which appears to be their way of filling up unsold booths.

I did not go to ASIS and since my boss wont pay for anyone other than him to go. I did go back when ASIS was in San Antonio. I also had the pleasure of gonig to ISC West this year.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague when he asked of I was going. I mentioned no howeer my boss was. He stated and I quote "He used to go however he no longer goes because the seminars have nothing for him and I. They are geared towards the security professional with less than 5 years in the industry. Not someone who has been in the industry for over 20 years".

I would have to say I agreed with his statement. I attend a lot of local seminars, watch wwebinars and I keep hearing the same things over and over again. I find it disappointing to say the least.

I would also echo the calls for quit moving it around. Choose a city or choose 3 - 5 cities and rotate between those. Moving it around is certainly one reason they are loosing attendance.

Another reason for loosing attendance most certainly has to be the thoughts of my colleague, "seminars are not geared to the folks with several years inthe industry.

As far as exihibits, I can say this from ISC West, there were so many seminars that I wanted to attend I had to pick and choose which ones to attend and because there were so many I had a tough time walking the exhibit floor and going to talk to each manufacture that I wanted too. I also found it disappointing that at the end of each day when there were no more seminars to attend and I actually had time to walk the exhibit floor most of the manufactures were already closed for the day.

Cost is certainly an issue. I have been a member of ASIS for years and I can say they charge a premium for their stuff. It is very expensive.

IPVM has for year complained about the cost of ASIS, what the CEO makes and the fact that a lot of the organization is unpaid volunteers runnig it. This is so true. I have been involved at chapter level in years past as local chapter vice president and president. It is a lot of work for very little reward.

Here is a thought. Like I said I did attend ISC West this year. I enjoyed it. However I can not compare to previous ISC West shows.

Anyway, here is my thought or suggestion to both ISC West and ASIS.

We all know in years past ISC West was geared towards primary audiance of the integrator.

We also know that the primary audiance for ASIS in the past was the end user - security director or manager. The lines have certainly crossed overr theyears.

Combine the two shows. This would bring in the audiences from both shows, cut manufactures expenses. Cut attendee expenses.

7, good thoughts!

"Combine the two shows. This would bring in the audiences from both shows, cut manufactures expenses. Cut attendee expenses."

Sure, cut attendee expenses but it will also cut ASIS and SIA / ISC revenue :) I do think one combined show has merit, I am just not sure if they will agree. Maybe if ASIS continues to go down, at some point, they will accept it, but it will not be easy. Both ASIS and SIA are overwhelmingly funded by the profits from their annual big shows.

"They are geared towards the security professional with less than 5 years in the industry. Not someone who has been in the industry for over 20 years."

I think that is a product of the presenters being unpaid. A lot more people can produce reusable intro content much more quickly than cutting edge research presentations.

heard the same stuff from vendors there. where are the customers? nice to have the time to talk to other vendors but...

FYI some seminars are definitely aimed at seasoned professionals. I'm on the IT Security Council, believe it or not some people are geninunely trying to develop and deliver seminar content that's worth it.

There is much to see in the exhibit hall, but not much new to see. Still, if you walk away with 2 or 3 golden nuggets of information that can cut cost and improve the performance of your system, as i did, it's worth the time and cost. Of course the block of recert credits ensures I will continue going in perpetuity. I do enjoy the seminars, but many class descriptions are not representative of the content, and some are simply a one-hour infomercial. So, ASIS needs to be more active in ensuring they are meeting attendees' expectation on education.

More negative comments from SSI:

"Traffic on the show floor ranged from barren (Days 1 and 3) to moderate (Day 2), and the 600 or so booths were about a 40% decline from what this event presented at its zenith. This made it easy most of the time for show-goers (including SSI’s ever-roaming editors) to get around and into booths as well as gain face time with vendor staff, but left the majority of exhibitors (particularly those focused on the dealer/integrator channel) dismayed."

Update: 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.

Maybe they should have invited Donald Trump to be the Keynote Speaker!

  • No Charge for his appearance #1
  • He is drawing crowds of 25,000 Plus!

And, as a developer, surely he has some insight in how to secure large buildings. Or at least employs someone who does.

Read this IPVM report for free.

This article is part of IPVM's 6,807 reports, 913 tests and is only available to members. To get a one-time preview of our work, enter your work email to access the full article.

Already a member? Login here | Join now
Loading Related Reports