The changing face of Gitex

This year's Gitex 2002 promises to see some changes from previous years, and maybe even gives an indicator as to the long-term shape of the show.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 6, 2002

This year's Gitex 2002 promises to see some changes from previous years, and maybe even gives an indicator as to the long-term shape of the show.

While last year was hit by events of September 11th, the exhibition this year is showing signs that the ongoing economic depression is impacting on the show, but it is not necessarily all bad.

The most noticeable difference is in the number of vendors that have opted out of a direct presence. Marconi, Sun Microsystems, Symbol and 3Com are all among vendors that have exhibited in previous years, but have decided against having their own stands this year.

The reasons cited are roughly the same-tight international marketing budgets have caused companies to look at the most cost effective method of having a presence at the show, and of the best way to turn marketing budget into sales.

The good news for partners is that all of the vendors named have decided to go for an increased presence with their local distributors. Obviously this gives partners a better showcase, access to more visiting VIPs and expert staff, and a hand in footing the bill for a stand at Gitex, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sharing a stand at the show can only help to reinforce partnerships and put the message across to customers that the channel is the preferred route.

What is not such good news is that many of the vendors that are not showing are looking not just at how to have a cost effective presence at Gitex, but whether trade shows are capable of providing a cost effective sales route at all.

Vendors report that the cost of generating a sales lead through an event like Gitex is simply not efficient when compared to doing more direct marketing to their key segments. This trend is visible in the US and Europe, where many trade shows are seeing a decline in exhibitor numbers.

Whether the stay-away vendors are right or not remains to be seen-given a better economic climate, they may well be back in a couple of years time-after all Intel has chosen this year to have its own stand, for the first time.

But in the mean time, exhibition organisers have to look hard at the value they offer companies. The WTC has expanded the scope of Gitex, both through the separate Computer Shopper exhibition, and through an enhanced seminar programme, but while these elements add value for exhibition visitors (and allow some costs to be recouped via direct sales, in the case of Computer Shopper) the costs to exhibitors still remain the same, and it is this that is proving to be the hard part of the trade show sell.

Greater co-operation between vendors and their local partners seems to me to be the way forward in providing companies with the most cost effective presence, and the best way to help build the local channel.

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