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LEDucation 2024: The Exhibition Grows

LEDucation 2024: The Exhibition Grows

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

There are levels to problems you can have. If you host a trade show and not a lot of people show up, that’s a bad problem. If you host a trade show and too many people show up, that’s a good problem.

Welcome to LEDucation 2024.

Thousands of people were in New York City this week for the event. Despite the crowd size, it would be hard to find many who left disappointed. Billed as the largest lighting trade show in the United States this year, attendees met with hundreds of exhibitors on Tuesday. (*Note: I did not attend the event on Wednesday, so these are only Tuesday observations.)

The crowd arrived early. Show hours were 10 am-8 pm. While exhibitors were putting the finishing touches on their booths just before 10 am, hundreds of attendees were gathering by 8:30 am in the New York Hilton lobby.

The crowd stayed late. At 6 pm, the exhibit halls were still filled with thousands of people.

When attendees arrived and picked up their badges, the general traffic flow was to walk into the main ballroom, which was on the same floor. One attendee said, “We have been in this first room for two hours.” There were countless vibrant conversations at just about every booth throughout the morning, which led to a massive backup in the exhibit aisles. Add in dozens of tables to set up lunch and space was at a premium. There were aisles that I looked down, and when I was unsure of an exit route, I just skipped it altogether.

Every exhibitor had the same size booth. I didn’t bring a measuring tape, but they looked like they were all 8 by 10. Some exhibitors had multiple booths, but it didn’t matter if you were a major manufacturer or a manufacturer who only makes lights for flag poles – everyone had the same size booth. And because space was limited, exhibitors needed to bring only their best or newest products. Keystone Technologies had one product that they just released on the day of the event and another that was released less than a week ago. Attendees were seeing the best and newest that exhibitors had to offer.

People working in booths were extremely patient and not overwhelming. It’s tough to have a conversation while you are in an extremely crowded aisle, constantly trying to stay out of the way of people walking by, and dealing with an incredible amount of noise. But I stood to the side for a while to try and get an average length of conversations between attendees and exhibitors, without making it look like I had my phone out while timing anyone. Of the four Tuesday morning conversations I observed, each was more than 5 minutes but less than 15.

The education sessions were incredibly well attended. I took a minute to get away from the crowd when one session ended. I lost count, but easily more than 100 people walked out of a room. Obviously, there was a lot of interest in what LEDucation had to offer in its 48 sessions this week.

But don’t take my word for it on the LEDucation 2024 experience. Andrea Barrall, Marketing Director for Swift Electric Supply, attended LEDucation as well. We talked briefly, and instead of making her try to give me a wrap-up of her experience while we were inside one of the crowded exhibit halls, she provided this wrap-up after leaving for the day:

  • What a show! I cannot believe how many suppliers, rep agencies, and services were represented.
  • We visited all areas: Rhinelander, Grand Ballroom, Americas Hall 1, Americas Hall 2, as well as various tables in the lobby/hallway areas.
  • Being that so many manufacturers were represented, we reviewed the show guide and planned which booths to visit in each area.
  • In attending from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, we interacted with approximately 25 suppliers/rep agencies/service providers; most had extended, meaningful conversations.
  • We’ve planned several lunch-and-learns, counter events, and follow-up meetings.
  • Seeing the latest products and technologies in person and being provided with demonstrations was very educational and left us thinking of customers who may benefit from these.
  • The bags provided by Core Lighting to collect literature and business cards were very much appreciated.
  • The crowd was overwhelming. We were forced to move more slowly through the venue than expected. Having the show guide was very helpful. (Publisher’s note to attendees: When you are walking through an exhibit hall that is overcrowded, put your phone away. Looking at your phone while “walking” and literally hundreds of people are behind you trying to get somewhere is only slowing down the process.)
  • It was quite hot in most areas. More cold beverages or ventilation (fans) would have made a more comfortable experience.
  • Standing in a long food line took time away from visiting more booths. I’m not sure how that could have been handled differently, unless there was an area on each floor with food and chairs and tables to eat that could have been set up away from the booths so we could hear each other more clearly. It was difficult to find a place to eat. We ended up sitting in one of the educational areas.
  • Overall, it was a wonderful networking experience. We felt the suppliers/rep agencies appreciated us taking the time to visit and talk about what they were presenting. We were also happy to see so many industry partners and friends in one place. Had we been able to arrive earlier or stay later, we definitely would have visited many more booths.
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