Where Were You?

An 800-pound gorilla is in the room, and it's time to ask why it's there. I may be figuratively burying myself for asking this, but why didn't you come to CMM? Exhibitors were there — all 160 of them. But where were the converters on June 2-4? Close to 2,000 converting professionals from more than 25 countries were counted among the attendees, according to show organizer PennWell Corp., so when spread out over the course of three days, it seemed awfully slow if you were walking the aisles.

PennWell Corp. had to be very disappointed for all the effort it poured into the event. Even Brendan O'Neill, editor-in-chief of CMM Online, suggested in his blog that maybe the show should move to another location far from the Chicago area. So far, the show is slated for a return engagement at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Ctr. in Rosemont, IL, come June 6-9, 2011, so a new venue isn't planned for any time soon. The good news is there are some strong believers in the show that have committed to exhibit at the next event, and they plan to put their full support into making the 2011 show a success.

One anonymous exhibitor bluntly asked me: “What is the assessment on the failure of the CMM Show?”

My response addressed “failure” in terms of lack of attendees. I may be completely wrong, but I offered some theories for why it was so poorly attended:

  • NPE was on June 22-26. Being a much larger show and one that follows a three-year cycle, perhaps people decided it was a better venue.
  • There is an over saturation of shows in the converting industry, and this year's CMM (since it had shrunk considerably in size in terms of exhibitors) was one attendees felt they could omit.
  • There were few running machines at the show, so prospective attendees may have felt they could get needed info by visiting websites or picking up the phone.
  • Travel budgets have been severely cut, and CMM didn't have the “must-see” value past shows once offered.
  • Cost for attending the conference program was too high.
  • Some exhibitors have said to me that when a show moves from McCormick Pl. to Rosemont, it's the “kiss of death.” Perhaps a new location really is in order.
  • The recession has created an “imperfect” storm in our industry. It's worse than a “perfect” storm. CMM was one of its many victims.

All things considered, a few attendees shared their insight with PFFC and felt the show was a great place to find information. No one was too busy to give their full attention to visitors and offer advice. And to be fair, some exhibitors can rationalize exhibiting at such a small show with lower attendance because even three qualified leads is worth the investment of exhibiting. The converters who came, said show management, came to buy. Where were you?

My friends call me…

Why did/didn't you attend CMM? Write to yolanda.simsonsis@penton.com.


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