DSE To Be Revived – Targeted For Spring 2022 Back In Las Vegas
June 23, 2021 by Dave Haynes
This week’s podcast, released overnight, has a lengthy, exclusive interview with Paul Miller, CEO of the company that acquired the assets to the defunct Digital Signage Expo and has designs on reviving the event.
The podcast summary goes into the basics, but it is worthwhile expanding on what he said.
The quick take on it is this:
Questex, the company that now owns the show brand and contact database, is planning to have a show next spring in Las Vegas, possibly associated in some fashion with the bar and nightclub trade show that runs annually in that city. Questex also owns and runs that show.
The bar show is legendary for the way drinks vendors ply attendees with free booze samples on the trade show floor, and in recent years it has run at the same time as DSE and sometimes in a nearby hall. Miller says he and his team had in the past took time out to also walk DSE to see what it was all about, particularly since digital signage technolog is widely used in bars, clubs and restaurants.
The revived DSE doesn’t have a formal name yet, but Miller says DSE may stick. I think that makes sense if the event is marketed more as DSE than Digital Signage Expo. It is likely some people would have to stop and think about what ISE actually stands for (Integrated Systems Europe). They just call it ISE.
The show’s character is still being sorted out, and Miller and his team have been interviewing industry people and recruiting people to an advisory board. I have spoken to Miller several times, as well as one of his executives. Brad Gleeson, a well-known industry management consultant who knows DSE from its earliest days, has also been contracted to develop insights and ideas from industry people.
“Obviously, when the show was canceled last year, some people were really quite upset about the lack of refunds and what went on there, and I fully understand that,” says Miller. “We had to cancel a lot of events last year, as well. It was a very tough scenario for everybody, but the industry, we felt as we got into it, had an opinion, and it was a strong opinion, and people wanted to talk. We had incoming people calling us saying, ‘I want to talk to you about what you’ve bought here, and let you know what you’ve got.’”
“I think the event has reached its limit, if you will, in terms of value,” he adds, “and people wanted to do something else going forward, without losing some of the great things about the event, which seems like it was a fantastic place for the industry to network and meet once a year. We don’t want to lose that. That’s a super reason for having an event.”
“So, it’s been a real experience. I mean, this is a very good acquisition from my experience, acquired through auction, having gone into Chapter 7 through the pandemic, and it has a set of stakeholders that really want to have a say. I mean, nobody said, ‘Sorry, I don’t want to talk about it, or, I don’t really have a comment.’ Everybody had something to say and I think that’s great. That shows some passion. It shows some engagement. It’s just that not all of the comments were positive, I have to be honest.”
So what’s the plan?
“Number one, we are going to relaunch the show,” says Miller. “Just to be clear from the top, we are going to relaunch the show. We do think that the show has to be repositioned somewhat to be a broader show to bring in those customers, as I mentioned. We’re looking at experiences around a broad-based agenda of life and business and mid the re-emergence of society and the global economy. So this is more about where does digital signage fit in the “roaring 20S”?”
“So we are looking to bring back the event. We’re looking at next spring and we are looking at Las Vegas,” Miller says. “I can’t go much further than that at this point in time, because we are obviously trying to secure venues and we’re trying to secure dates, and that by the way, is easier said than done in a post-pandemic environment and everybody wants dates.”
“But we do have our Nightclub & Bar show, rebranded as our Bar & Restaurant event, in Las Vegas next spring. There’s the possibility of bringing that together again, if you will. We will have an exhibit floor but also adding things like show floor experiences, very inclusive. You know, ‘Let’s demonstrate some applications, do some showcases, have some themed presentation stages.’
“So … a lot of buzz on the show floor, but at the same time, a really engaging conference program, lots of curated presentations, tracks based on innovative applications, ‘Why do this? What are the outcomes? What you should be looking for?'”
“And last, but not least, we are hoping to have multiple layers of networking at the event. That’s one thing that this community told us is, “Please don’t lose the networking!”
Miller was a great interview – open and honest about plans. It was the first interview he’s done that gets into what’s planned. We get into the timing versus the other big trade shows, as well as the character of the event and longer term plans.
I think this can work, for a few reasons:
- Questex is a much bigger, much more resourced company than the family operation that started and ran DSE for many years. The company does numerous shows, in numerous verticals, in numerous countries, year to year;
- The company builds its shows off content and uses that content to retain a conversation with the industry system through the year. DSE had an online publication but I think it is fair to say it was not a must-read for industry people;
- There is a recognition that the way DSE was being done, while it always looked good, wasn’t clicking with enough industry people, and that just spinning the same thing back up would be a mistake. Networking and a single focus that week (ISE and InfoComm pull 1,000s who could care less about displays and software – they do mikes or lighting or whatever);
- Throwing out the long-used recipe an crafting a new one that meets the times seems a wise approach.
You can hear the whole thing here, or if you are not a podcast person, the post has the transcript, as well.