Attending your first Digital Signage Expo (DSE) is a lot like planning your first digital signage network. Good planning up front yields positive results in the end.
I have attended every Digital Signage Expo since it began as the Digital Retailing Expo in San Francisco in 2003. The first show was much smaller than it is today. There were many new providers entering the market with promises of a “turnkey” solution to communication problems. Some of those companies didn’t last until the next Expo. Now, the industry is far more mature, and most of the service providers you will meet at DSE will be there to support you for the long haul.
Start with a plan. What are your objectives for attending the show? Are you looking for content management software? Outdoor enclosures for certain weather conditions? Or are you just beginning to explore whether digital signage is right for your organization? You’ll find answers to all of your questions at DSE. Take a look at the exhibitor list on the DSE website, and read a little bit about some of the exhibitors you think you may want to visit. Write down the company names and booth numbers.
When you get to the convention center, open the guide to the two-page map of the show floor. Circle the booth numbers of the exhibitors you have on your list (You can also do this with the DSE 2017 Mobile App. See video tutorials here). My approach is usually to start with a quick walk up and down every aisle, just getting a feel for what’s there. You may want to break that into a couple of visits to the show floor since you’ll likely be attending seminars and industry roundtables too. You may see a few more exhibitors that weren’t on your original list that you want to add. Then go back to the map with the exhibitors you circled, add any new ones and plan a route that takes you to each booth.
It may seem obvious, but the heavy hitters are in the front of the hall, and the smaller booths are in the back. Don’t be overwhelmed by the bright and shiny things you’ll find in the largest booths. There will be a lot of very cool technology, but keep in mind that some of it may be way beyond the scope of your project. It’s fun to look, but always keep your project goals in mind.
If possible, be prepared with a concise description of what you’re looking for and when you intend to buy it. For example: “We’re planning to deploy a network in 15 sites, and I’m looking for wall-mounted touchscreen displays.” But, it also could be vague at this point: “My boss saw some digital signs at a competitor’s store and asked me to come learn more so we can talk further about putting something similar in our stores.”
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Unless an exhibitor’s booth is totally jammed with potential customers, company reps are usually happy to spend time with you. If they are really busy, ask about setting a specific time to come back and talk further.
Enjoy your first DSE! Please let any Advisory Board member or Exponation staff member know if there is something that you think would improve the experience in the future.