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Beyond the Apple Booth: Low-Rent Exhibitors Pleased

TMO at MWSF - Beyond the Apple Booth: Low-Rent Exhibitors Pleased

by , 1:20 PM EST, January 13th, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Those who have attended a Macworld Expo likely recall that pile of little booths way in the back with an odd assortment of exhibitors. These are the Special Interest Pavillions, and they make up the low-rent district of the Macworld show floor. We took some time out to speak with some of these exhibitors and gague how MWSF looks from the cheap seats.

The Special Interest Pavillions

Among exhibitors, there was widespread satisfaction with the arrangement. Space in the special interest area includes a kiosk, so exhibitors need show with only their materials and an internet connection. This simplicity appeals to the speaker-system exhibitor Fujitsu Ten Ltd., which has its operations based in Japan. "We wanted an easy setup," said representative Mikey Tachibana.

Fujitsu Ten's Mikey Tachibana

The cost of a kiosk is US$3,000. This price is far lower than the conventional show floor real estate: Morgan Simpson of Marratech AB, which is showcasing a communication product it calls "iChat on steroids," predicted the company would have had to spend about US$12,000-US$15,000 for a 10 foot by 10 foot booth. (The space itself costs about US$6,000, but those exhibitors are required to build and maintain their own booth space.) But in spite of the comparatively low price, Mr. Simpson was pleased with the quality of the show so far. "Yesterday exceeded expectations both in traffic and the number of qualified leads." As a result, he said he believes "the ROI [return on investment] on this is pretty good."

Kiosk staff for Marratech AB

Greg Scown of desktop publishing shareware firm Smile on My Mac also sees great value in the low rent district -- enough that the company opted to purchase two kiosks instead of booth space elsewhere on the floor. "I like this area," he explained. "It's where people come to see what's interesting." Mr. Scown argues that visitors to his kiosk get jostled around less than they do on the show floor, so he feels he can better connect with those he meets.

Greg Scown, founder of Smile on My Mac

The biggest caveat to exhibiting in the area appears to be a lack of control over kiosk placement. The Marratech booth was on the extreme corner of the section, near two other popular booths on the floor. IT development software maker Digital Strata, however, was stuck way in the back. "We're going to do better on that next year," said representative Janice Fischler. "Considering that we tacked on [registered] late, we're doing pretty well." Ms. Fischler also explained that the Digital Strata had initially planned to purchase full booth real estate on the show floor, but that other, more experienced exhibitors had suggested they might do better in the special interest area. She expressed satisfaction with that decision.

Janice Fischler of Digital Strata

All in all, the special interest exhibitors seemed quite satisfied. Even the registration process sounded relatively straightforward: Marratech's Joe Bishop said even the staffers that got them their kiosk space were extremely easy to work with. For the money, the special interest section seems to appeal.

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