Always a good idea to turn up to a trade show about 30 minutes after it opens. That way, you avoid being caught up in the crush of waiting people eager to catch a glimpse of the latest technology (er….) or – more likely – beat the queue to dump stuff in the cloakroom. This was the plan when I bumped into an old colleague on the way in to IP Expo last week.
I’d had my badge sent to me already, guaranteeing immediate access, but he hadn’t. Some junior at his office registered him the day before; giving him just a code for use on the day. How very 21st century?
So I hung back a minute so he could enter his code and print out a badge. The six touchscreen machines were letting through about 30 delegates per minute. Very efficient. So he punched in his and then… ACCESS DENIED. He tried it again: ACCESS DENIED. He got a hand on his shoulder as Vladimir the security guy stepped over to intervene. Uh-oh…
“Perhaps you are registered for a Premium Pass, sir?”
Aha, yes – suddenly it wasn’t so embarrassing. The junior colleague must have pulled a few strings, slapped a few extra quid on the company account for the boss. Vlad pointed him over to a different queue full of well-heeled looking folk with wheel-along suitcases. Jammy so-and-so; first class check-in, I thought, watching him strut over like Del-Boy past all the plebs.
He was in that queue for nigh-on twenty minutes!! I wandered off to the Arista stand after about two. They had a plum spot right next to the keynote theatre where Apple’s Steve Wozniak would be giving a standing-room-only address the following day. Whether that was the magic ingredient or not, Arista turned over some great leads during the event. The show was also good news for our other vendor partners Aerohive (who, along with reseller LAN3, had their own lounge where you could get free wireless access), Infoblox and Exinda. As with last year’s IP Expo, the show was very busy with good quality visitors. All the stands are more or less the same small footprint, meaning a level playing field for getting your message across concisely – not unlike Twitter I suppose…
As normal at trade shows nowadays, you couldn’t move an inch without someone zapping your badge with a barcode reader. Most exhibitors were serving up content via QR codes as well, enabling anyone with a camera on their phone (and a free app) to hoover up info for later, rather than carry bags full of paper around all day. Another example of mobile devices’ encroachment into the enterprise data environment – a value-added distributor somewhere needs to help resellers with security solutions to protect that!
I caught up with my mate from registration later on in the day and asked him what perks his Premium Pass got, other than a 20 minute wait (rather than a 12 second stroll through).
“I get to queue up again for some free cold coffee and fight over a plate of free sandwiches with all the people I waited outside with,” he moaned. “But I did get free wireless.”
In my book – if you have to pay for it, then it ain’t free. And if you have to wait for it, then it costs even more.