Vendors Table TelecomNext Turmoil
What started as a united front of equipment vendors pushing for the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to put aside their differences and run a single industry trade show has become the story of a letter never sent.
On July 19, Light Reading reported that several large equipment vendors were ready to send USTelecom a letter threatening to pull booth space if the organization refused to merge its TelecomNext show with TIA's Globalcom, according to a draft copy of the letter addressed to Walter McCormick, president of USTelecom. (See Gearheads: The Shows Must Not Go On.)
"We will not be contracting to exhibit our equipment/services on the TelecomNext show floor," the draft letter stated. And the companies listed in the document included Nortel Networks Ltd. , Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), and several others that generally spend big at industry shows.
After Light Reading's story, and several rounds of discussions amongst the vendors involved, sources close to the situation say a single letter expressing one united view was never sent. Instead, each company was left to work out its differences with each association individually.
But even without a united front, that doesn't change the fact that several vendors aren't thrilled about seeing two shows compete for their marketing dollars in the wake of Supercomm's demise. (See Dueling Tradeshows.) "As far as ADC is concerned, we sincerely hope both organizations can negotiate in good faith to find a single show solution," says Steve Grady, VP of global marketing for ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT).
Grady's views were similar to several other vendors contacted by Light Reading for this story that declined to go on the record. Vendors say having more trade shows doesn't make much sense when their main concern is cutting down their "cost per qualified lead," meaning they want to spend fewer dollars to find potential customers.
"We're still reviewing what ADC's going to do with all the shows next year," Grady says. "In general, we're shifting our marketing spend to other vehicles that have a higher return than trade shows."
As for the show organizers, TIA president Matt Flanigan says he is ready to talk his former partner (TIA and USTelecom partnered on the Supercomm show before going their separate ways in 2006). "We're always interested in talking and doing what our members feel we should do," he says. "The manufacturers and suppliers are our members and they're they ones who pay for these shows." (See TIA's Flanigan: Globalcomm's Bigger.)
A USTelecom spokeswoman says the organization never received a letter from the vendors and said the organization isn't going to comment on "speculation" of the vendors' concerns about its show.
Meanwhile, both the TIA and USTelecom are pressing ahead with building buzz for their respective events. Last week, USTelecom released a list of speakers it has lined up for its 2007 show, which included Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) president Tom Freston and NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright. Yesterday, the TIA announced updated attendance figures for Globalcomm 2006 and said that more than 200 companies have already reserved more than 145,000 net square feet of exhibit space for its next show.
Flanigan didn't hide from the fact that carrier attendees were "light in certain areas," but he said the TIA will "spend the marketing dollars necessary to convince carriers – domestic and international – that Globalcomm is the place to see the latest technology and the newest ways that equipment vendors and suppliers can help carriers make money."
USTelecom will hold its TelecomNext show March 18-21, 2007, in Las Vegas, at the Sands Expo and the Venetian. TIA will return its Globalcomm show to Chicago's McCormick Place June 18-21, 2007.
Disclosure: Light Reading and its parent, CMP, have a business relationship with TIA and Globalcomm. (See TIA, CMP Team on Globalcomm.)
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading