Refreshed eyes on IBC

Posted By Wes Plate on September 12, 2010 11:05 am | Permalink
My name is Wes Plate, president and co-founder of Automatic Duck, Inc., a company that makes plug-ins for translating timelines between After Effects, Avid, Final Cut Pro and more. Though I have exhibited at IBC for several years this is the first time I am attending as a mere visitor, and so the good folks at Post Magazine invited me to share my thoughts and impressions of IBC from the vendor side.

Since we started Automatic Duck in 2001 we have exhibited at the industry's two largest trade shows: NAB in Las Vegas and IBC here in Amsterdam. Exhibiting is tremendously hard work and is not nearly as glamourous as you might think. In addition to all the planning and organizing and shipping and setting up and tearing down and shipping back, there is the main job of being accessible in your booth for many hours talking to a variety of people who range from exciting profit prospects through those who, well, aren't. While we all like to moan about how much trade shows suck, meeting customers is actually refreshing, energizing and rewarding. People come up to talk about how much they love your product, and even those who are experiencing a problem are respectful because in person it is much more difficult to be a jerk like email communication too often encourages. And I'm very nice in person.

If you've ever seen Automatic Duck at NAB or IBC you probably noticed we've been a part of a group of plug-in vendors called the Plug-in Pavilion. We team up to get a large space and then we share the various costs, it is quite a good idea and while it doesn't necessarily make exhibiting much cheaper it does allow us to get good space in the hall. I love the Plug-in Pavilion, and over the years us repeat offenders in the group have become good friends. However since our group started exhibiting at IBC fewer and fewer plug-in companies have participated. Last year when there were only two of us left sharing the space and the costs, we looked at each other and decided it was getting too expensive. But because I love IBC and I love Amsterdam, I still came out. After seven years of exhibiting at IBC this is the first year I'm just a visitor.

There is a lot to like about IBC. Amsterdam is a fantastic city full of beauty and kindness, with loads of fantastic restaurants and places to visit with friends. And for me this aspect of IBC is important. Many of us vendors get to know each other as we see our same exhausted faces year after year at NAB, IBC and other industry events. At IBC we seem to have more of an opportunity to get together in the evening, something that no one is able to do at NAB because of all the events, user meetings, parties and other working-while-drinking occasions. But here in Amsterdam I feel like we get to relax a little after the exhibits close for the day.

We can even relax and socialize at the show itself, if you can get away from your booth (or just forego the booth altogether). It turns out located on the grounds of the RAI exhibition center is the Strand Zuid City Beach, a lovely outdoor area with two restaurants, beer, sand, benches and chairs that all work together to nearly make you believe you're not on the clock.

Naturally there is work to be done at IBC, otherwise our bosses wouldn't be sending us, and IBC is fantastic place to do business. As you join the queue to enter the building you immediately sense that you're amongst professionals, just about everyone is wearing a suit. And not in a stuffy wearing-a-suit-at-NAB way, but in a cool European way that exudes power and style, with a dash of you can tell these dudes also know how to party. Many of the visitors to IBC are power players in large broadcasting companies, there to get questions answered and potentially make deals. In my experience visitors will stay at a stand a lot longer than they will at other shows, asking very thoughtful questions and won't leave until their understanding is crystal clear. But the slowness isn't a problem, there aren't crushing crowds here, rather a crop of high value prospects. No tire kickers.

This visit has so far been again quite positive. I've enjoyed successful meetings at the beach, memorable dinners with friends and business partners, plus loads of good and insightful chat all around IBC. I will leave Amsterdam reinvigorated and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.