DSE Reboot Pushed Back To November; Q4 Time Window Going Forward

January 26, 2022 by Dave Haynes

The industry-specific trade show re-booted as Digital Signage Experience has been pushed back to November 2022 – another event affected by the pandemic that keeps on going.

The show was supposed to run in late March in Las Vegas as a new take on the Digital Signage Expo show and conference that ran for some 15 years, before going under in 2020. The assets were acquired in auction by the New York-based events company Questex, and DSE was then revived with a slightly tweaked name.

The show will be now run Nov. 17-19 and operate in tandem with a pair of Questex-managed business events, LDI (Live Design International) and XLIVE. DSE will be in LVCC Central Halls 1 and 3 and LDI and XLIVE will take place next door in North Halls 1-4. 

Both of those are aimed at the live events and entertainment industries, and while they may seem like very different businesses from digital signage, there is substantial crossover on the display and infrastructure aspects of live shows and large format digital signage. InfoComm veteran attendees will recall sections of the exhibit hall at that AV trade show that are tuned to live events, like stage and lighting.

Questex says DSE, in future years, will also run in November and continue to be tied to LDI.

Obviously, there were will be no Sixteen:Nine DSE Mixer in March now, because there is no show. I am losing track of how many mixers I have had to arrange and cancel in the last two years. Maybe November now???

Importantly, Questex says it is committed to providing a full refund to all attendees, exhibitors and sponsors who were previously signed up to participate in the now-postponed March show. That noted, Questex says it will happily just shift existing bookings to November. If hotels for March were booked through DSE’s booking partner, those will be cancelled without any need for exhibitors or attendees to make calls or find the right web page.

The press release today very carefully avoids any reference to the pandemic, which I assume is for contractual reasons with the convention center venue. But the pandemic’s chilling effect on travel and trade show marketing is undoubtedly a main business driver behind the postponement. It’s not a health safety thing, as the bar and restaurant trade show also run by Questex, set for the same week at the same Las Vegas Convention Center, is still going ahead and, I am told, is tracking ahead of 2019 pre-pandemic numbers.

Part of the postponement story is that the new DSE did not appear to be coming together as quickly as hoped, in terms of exhibitors and, likely, with registered attendees. The old DSE event, for many years, attracted 200+ exhibitors, but in pre-pandemic 2019 it had about 150, and DSE has been sliding both in popularity and relevance.

For the Questex reboot, there was a push on to enlist exhibitors, but as of last week, there were less than 30, if the stands of some trade associations and media were not included in the exhibitor count. The floor plan had been dramatically reduced in its overall footprint to better reflect the smaller exhibitor lineup.

This is the original floor plan …

This was the revised one, from Tuesday …

That reduced footprint will owe a lot to COVID transmission worries and the delayed/cancelled nightmare that is air travel lately. But it would also have to do with the DSE reboot being new and untested. I sense that while a lot of industry people were happy to see this dedicated industry show being revived, many were not going to be doing more than sending people for this first one, to see what it looked like and how it worked. That’s easy, and comes at a fraction of the cost of a physical exhibit.

It did not help, as well, that event marketing had a very late start, with the push only ramping up in Nov. 2021, after what was thought to be the last major wave and before Omicron turned up.

It’s all such a shame, as the folks behind the DSE reboot did what they could to generate industry interest, bringing on help from experienced and well-connected industry people and recruiting an advisory board of very credible people.

Questex is positioning the changed plans as a “new strategy to engage with the global digital signage community, providing a series of touch points throughout the year to connect buyers and sellers.”

“In discussions with our advisory board and industry stakeholders, it became clear that there were several strong reasons to move the event – the DSE community signaled that it wants to get together later in the year, allowing us to align the show better with year-end planning cycles,” says Marian Sandberg, VP & Market Leader, Questex, in today’s announcement. “In addition, as public spaces and digital worlds continue to evolve, the digital screen becomes an increasingly essential portal to future experiences and bringing together these three technology and experience focused events makes a great deal of sense.”

DSE is now being positioned as having a year-round engagement strategy:
• There will be a digital signage pavilion, content tracks and networking at the Bar & Restaurant Expo that’s still on in March;
• The show will do a series of webinars and virtual events aimed at digital signage end user markets;
• A regular interview series with digital signage thought leaders and association partners to discuss and understand the shifting landscape of digital signage needs. I don’t know what that means, but guessing a podcast???

“We support DSE’s strategic shift to later in the year,” says Rich Ventura, VP B2B for Sony Electronics’ Professional Solutions Americas and a  DSE Advisory Board member. “We have heard a great deal of excitement around the relaunch of DSE from our digital signage colleagues and I know the anticipation will only build. Moving the show to November, and especially alongside another technology show, creates a beneficial opportunity for attendees. We look forward to sponsoring the revival of this iconic industry event in the fall.”

“We’ve spent the last two days conferring with major exhibitors, along with the advisory board, industry associations, other exhibitors and key industry figures, and got 100% positive response,” says industry vet Brad Gleeson, who was engaged by Questex to build out the revived show and brand. “We’ll be meeting with all of them to develop and drive partnership initiatives throughout the year. We are excited to have this extra time to create the digital content we think will solidify the brand and the event.”

I don’t know the trade show business beyond going to a hell of a lot of shows through the years, so I can’t say if running this kind of thing in Q4 is business-wise or business-deadly. Creating some separation between ISE in February and InfoComm in June (assuming normal dates come back post-COVID) is, I suspect, a good thing.

I also don’t know about things like product launch timing in Q4, but really don’t think DSE is, or was, an event that manufacturers and software firms keyed big product announcements to. My impression is that much of the appeal of DSE is around a few days in one place that are JUST about digital signage, and allow for a lot of networking, client entertainment and customer/partner touches.

The big shows like ISE and InfoComm serve a whole bunch of varied technologies, and digital signage is just one of many reasons why people go and companies show. I remember reading a comment after the old DSE went down, from someone, who said he or she really liked DSE because they knew once arriving in Vegas, it was all and only digital signage things and people that week.

HOPEFULLY, this is the last time I’m writing one of these event-postponed things. It’s getting old and annoying.


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