DSE Reboot Expecting At Least 4,000 Attendees; In Line With Old Show

October 7, 2022 by Dave Haynes

I had a catch-up this morning with a couple of the key folks pulling together the DSE reboot – Marian Sandberg and David Drain of Questex. The headline statement is that that show next month is a go and the crowd actually looks to be pretty decent, in terms of headcount.

The show – now called Digital Signage Experience – is “pacing” to see some 4,000 registrants, and possibly 5,000 – which is in the same ballpark as the numbers the old Exponation DSE was seeing in 2019 and in previous years. This does not include the people who may come over from the LDI show, also run by Questex and also happening at the same time across a hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center. That show caters to the tech side of the live events community, which increasingly uses a lot of LED backdrops, sync’d lighting and software. I know some vendors who are at LDI, who might more normally be showing at DSE.

The vendor count is not as high for next month’s event. The last DSE, under the old operators, had maybe 190 exhibitors. This one appears, so far, to be about 80, so few people will turn up and be in a panic over not having enough time to see everything and everyone. The exhibitor number is also padded, a bit, by exhibit and seating areas that have been allocated to trade associations and media organizations. But every show does that.

Sony, Peerless-AV, Navori, Spectrio and Brightsign have the largest stands (20 by 30 footers) and eight of the exhibitors just have meeting rooms. Sandberg expects they will settle on 90-100 vendors, and she says that’s in line with first-year expectations. The show, she concedes, needs to win the trust and confidence of people again, after DSE went into bankruptcy protection.

This is the current floor map:

I think the registered attendee numbers being seen by this new DSE reflect how industry people want an event to see other industry people more than it does an event to see new stuff. If you want to see the latest display hardware, for example, there would be a lot more of it at CES, back in Vegas in early January, and in Barcelona at ISE a few weeks later. But neither of those events are focused solely on digital signage, nor is InfoComm each June.

One of the comments that has stuck in my head after the old DSE went under was from an industry person who said he really liked DSE because it was JUST digital signage people talking and asking about digital signage, versus broader events that address a bunch of industries. I know from experience that when I have chatted in hotel elevators with people at InfoComm, I’d see their badge and company name, and find out they were heavily into stuff that had little or no ties to digital signage or pro displays.

There is, I believe, a big hunger out in the digital signage community to get together after almost three years of pandemic restrictions and very limited networking and meetup opportunities. Regional events here and there help, as do things like the New York Digital Signage Week events next week in Guess Where. But a focused event like DSE offers the opportunity to see a whole bunch of people, including partners, in a handful of days, and with the relative ease of getting around Vegas (versus New York, which gets exhausting quickly). One return flight can result in a lot of customer and particularly partner touches.

I was not at all sure how many people would be at the annual Sixteen:Nine mixer, but it is looking like the crowd will be as big as in the past, and we might still sell out (just 50 or so spots left). So the desire to network is very much there.

Running trade shows is entirely foreign to me, but given how free DSE floor passes appear easy to come by, I’m thinking there’s limited money in attendee fees, and that sponsor and exhibitor fees are particularly important to Questex in terms of profit and loss. It probably helps that the company has another trade show and people on site at the same time, saving on some costs that way, but I doubt this will be a big money-maker for the events firm. Then again, this show is in year-one start-up mode, and Sandberg concedes as much in our chat.

There will be lotsa people who will look at the floor plan and question the viability of all this. I dunno, but the attendee count certainly backs up my theory that the industry wants an annual event to gather at, that is JUST about the industry. The big question is whether what feels more like a convention, with limited exhibitors, works for a company that is all about events. This is something Sandberg says will be nurtured and grown.

Drain also chats in the podcast about plans for the education component, and how experience taught him about quality content has to rule the day, not vendor and sponsor needs. One of things being done is managing the timing so people don’t necessarily have to choose between being on the exhibit hall floor or off the floor in an education session. As you can see in the hall map, the education sessions are either on the floor or very close by.

An interesting side note for the Nov. 2023 edition of the show: DSE is working on shifting dates away from the Formula One race that will take over the Strip and surrounding streets, and send hotel prices (probably) up or past peak CES levels. Yes it would be fun to see an F1 race, but it’s a nightmare in just about every other respect in terms of costs, getting there and getting around a city that has many of its key streets closed off.

My conversation with the Questex folks will be up as a podcast next week.

  1. Jeremy Gavin says:

    Really looking forward to both the familiarity of “DSE” and seeing customers and partners. This has always been the most valuable show for Screenfeed as we benefit as equally from talking to partners as we do end users. Also looking forward to how Questex manages the show – and the 16:9 Mixer!

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