The American Academy of Audiology held their annual convention last week in Nashville, and your humble Editor hung out in the Expo Hall to report on the latest from the hearing care industry. The last time we attended was #AN14 in San Antonio; but this year’s hall had far fewer exhibitors, despite the improved economy.
Conspicuous by their absence were GN Store Nord (ReSound & Beltone), Etymotic Research, Amplifon USA, Starkey, ON Semiconductor, Sensear, HearingTracker, Neuro Kinetics, Turtle Beach, Mimosa Acoustics, and under new ownership about to rise from the ashes (more on this later!), Frye, to name just a few, as many exhibitors have found value delivered just isn’t there, as the cost of $25/ft² with a minimum of $2500 acts to “freeze out” smaller exhibitors.
For example, at computer industry conventions, inexpensive kiosks are available for small app developers, where all they need is a shelf, and power for their laptop or tablet. There are many app developers who have hearing related products, where spending $500 for a kiosk in “App Alley” would be a good value, but $2500 is just too much to spend.
Navigating the Expo hall was a chore, as this year there were no paper maps or directories in the hall itself: We had to schlep the catalog around, constantly referencing it to find vendors we wanted to visit.
Another problem is that the Expo Hall closes the day before the convention ends. Students of local audiology and related programs who cannot attend during the week due to classes are frozen out. Other industries’ conventions, such as automotive, photographic, cosmetic, and audio engineering, to name just four, rely on Saturdays as their busiest day with the most floor traffic — This provides value to the exhibitors.
Previously, we also suggested to AAA management that their convention team walk through the Expo halls of both related (SLP/CD, otology, etc…), sound-related (audio engineering, acoustics, consumer electronics, music merchants (same venue as AAA!)), and totally unrelated industries, and talk to their trade association convention planners, to get fresh ideas to improve the 2019 convention in Columbus.
We have discussed these issues with AAA management after AN15 in San Antonio; but as one recently retired 40 year industry veteran noted to me, the convention hall has been shrinking every year for several years now. We surely hope Academy management will use these suggestions for a better convention next year in Columbus.