Dec. 14, 2022 - When a global pandemic forced the technology tradeshow circuit to pivot to videoconferencing in early 2020, no one was quite sure when shows such as ISE, the InfoComm® tradeshow, and CEDIA® Expo would return to "normal."
The answer now appears to be 2022. The past year saw a big Crestron presence at shows large and small — and the company even produced its own traveling versions.
The Crestron Next Road Trips in the U.S.
One of the defining aspects of the past year for Crestron actually began late in 2021. Last November saw the first Crestron NEXT Road Trip open in Boston, a traveling "mini trade show" featuring residential and commercial solutions. That first show was followed by stops in 11 cities over the next ten months:
The events, which included stops from Boston to Birmingham and San Jose to Chicago, were designed to provide "hands-on, one-on-one demos of all our key technology platforms, demos from our guest technology partners, training, and answers from our experts," according to the organizers.
One of those organizers, Crestron's Executive Director of Customer Experience Rosanne Lang, explained why the company took up a tour that tallied well over 11,000 miles: "NEXT was created because there were no live events and people were hesitant to travel due to the pandemic, so we brought the show to them."
Crestron's Michael Short, senior director of residential and hospitality marketing, loved the concept:
"With NEXT, we had a captive audience. We could run our own training. Post-training, dealers could hang around and have conversations and not need to rush off for meetings elsewhere in a show," he adds. That extra time allowed for more technical conversations between dealers and Crestron staff.
[Crestron Director of Product Marketing] Lauren Simmen's take in this regard is similar to Short's, but she did notice something else: "It was fascinating to see the regional differences. In Chicago, there was a real blend of interest in both residential and commercial solutions — but some cities were vastly more interested in hearing about residential products than commercial, and vice-versa."
The Crestron NEXT Road Trip Europe: A Truck Full of Commercial Solutions
Crestron's EMEA team had its own concept that addressed the uncertainty of a continuing global pandemic: the Crestron NEXT Road Trip Europe.
It started as an idea hatched a couple of years ago by Senior Director of Marketing for Crestron Europe Philip Sempels and his team: a "trade show stand on wheels," a rolling Crestron display in an expandable truck that would travel across Europe and the UK. As Sempels explained right before the tour began, "It would act as a temporary showroom, and dealers could make an event out of it with their end-users." That idea came to fruition this year, and the inaugural Crestron NEXT Road Trip Europe began in March.
That display truck logged 38 stops in 19 countries, and Crestron's regional sales directors couldn't have been happier with the results:
Serge Philippo (Eastern Europe): Simply put, it was a great idea and concept, and customers definitely would like to see the truck with the latest Crestron technology again.
Stein Ramsli (Nordics): It was a great way to interact with partners and end-users at a more controlled pace. It was easier to answer deeper questions in that setting compared to, say, ISE. We got better quality time to explain and sell the concepts behind the technology.
Alain Solomon (Southwest Europe): In a nutshell, it was great to connect with those who couldn't make it to ISE due to COVID or any other issues.
Crestron Lands at ISE
The Crestron NEXT Road Trip Europe did not, however, prevent an appearance at ISE. Although the show was postponed by four months in 2022, Crestron rolled with the scheduling issues:
After a 15-month pandemic-driven delay, having a moving booth traveling Europe and a fixed booth in Barcelona at the same time felt like a luxury, and Crestron was once again one of the major exhibitors at Integrated Systems Europe. While expectations for attendance were somewhat muted going in, ISE saw excellent numbers and a crowded show floor.
The combination of approaches — a rolling exhibit along with Crestron's traditional appearance on the ISE floor — ensured that a broader range of dealers and end customers could interact with the company's people and products, no matter their travel challenges and comfort level with COVID.
The Crestron booth was massive — and the available floor space offered a unique opportunity for ISE:
All that space allowed the addition of residential products to the display. The press outlets that are primarily focused on home technology have taken notice, and the Crestron Home® platform and its attendant products picked up several awards. For example: CE Pro honored Crestron with no less than five trophies in the magazine's 2022 TNT (Top New Technology) Awards. On the commercial side, the line of Crestron AirMedia® wireless presentation and conferencing systems picked up ISE's Best in Show honors, and Inavate added another trophy to the company's case.
Crestron's Sightline Solution Rolls Out at InfoComm
Of all the offerings on display in the Crestron booth at this year's InfoComm, the technology that drives the new Sightline solution — technology Crestron acquired by bringing on the team from 1 Beyond — had the biggest impact:
The "buzziest" news generated by the expansive footprint of the Crestron display was twofold, namely: the concept of "meeting equity" demonstrated by the Sightline solution and the evolution of 8K displays.
Crestron's Mike DiBella, who was primarily handling the esports presentations, noted that Sightline was clearly a hit. "The Sightline experience was absolutely dominating the chatter that I was hearing," he says.
AV Nation's Rich Fregosa managed to effectively explain the concept — and execution — of the Sightline solution:
The overarching message of the show overall was different than in some years past, according to Crestron's Lauren Simmen: "There was a different kind of buzz this year as I think the show was less about new product introductions and more about thinking differently with existing solutions to solve new design challenges." Sightline's a prime example of that notion.
Solutions on Display at CEDIA Expo
The notion of a "solutions first" booth was the driving concept behind Crestron's return to CEDIA Expo after a seven-year hiatus. John Clancy, Crestron's residential MVP, explained just after the show wrapped:
Clancy's vision for the CEDIA booth — a massive, 6,000-square-foot stunner —was solutions-oriented, not product-oriented. Clancy and his team wanted to stay away from the traditional "wall full of black boxes" approach common to shows such as CEDIA Expo.
"I really wanted a conscious effort around a new style, a new look, and then secondarily, a new way to present it," he explains. "I wanted to display solutions and show how our products are threaded into those solutions."