September 12-13 sees the first staging of Channel Live, a free trade-only exhibition for the ICT community. Technology Reseller talks to Miles Bossom, CEO of Swink Events, about the rationale for the new event and how it differs from the Convergence Summits that it is superseding.
Technology Reseller (TR): Why are you replacing the Convergence Summit events with Channel Live?
Miles Bossom (MB): The Convergence Summits ran for a very successful 15-year period. The market is very different now from when they started in 2002. It’s clear from the research we have conducted that the Channel wants something new; a wider reaching event that goes beyond convergence and explores trends such as digital transformation.
TR: Why do you think it is important to have an annual channel event?
MB: Having an annual event enables vendors and resellers to network with each other face to face over a two-day period. This is more efficient than spending weeks on the road and in meetings. Vendors see the event as the perfect time to launch new products and services, meet new resellers and network with existing ones. Resellers use the event to discover upcoming trends and evaluate their partnerships. The seminars we provide are also a great source of education and insight for attendees and cover a variety of relevant topics that are impacting the Channel.
TR: Why is the show being located in the Midlands?
MB: After surveying both vendors and resellers, the overwhelming demand was for one all-encompassing event in the Midlands instead of two smaller events in Surrey and Harrogate. The NEC has excellent transport links to other parts of the UK and is reachable by car in under 3 hours by 75% of the population, making it an accessible and obvious choice for a large event like Channel Live.
TR: Will there be more exhibition space than at Convergence Summit events?
MB: Sandown Park was the larger of the two Convergence Summits. We have over 60% more floor space being sold at the NEC for Channel Live this year. With just under six months to go and 74% of floor space already sold, we have another hall on hold in case we need to expand further.
TR: Are you targeting a different or broader audience with the new exhibition? And if so how does it differ from the Convergence Summit audience?
MB: The Convergence Summits were always known for being more voice-led. We are taking a huge step away from this stigma and Channel Live will have exhibitors and visitors from the IT, data, security, mobile and comms sectors. The audience will be broader, bigger and represent the whole ICT Channel in equal measure.
TR: How many exhibitors and how many visitors are you expecting?
MB: We are expecting approximately 3,000 attendees across the two days. TR: Will Channel Live’s content be different from Convergence Summit and, if so, in what ways?
MB: Whilst there will be some crossover in content, there will also be lots of new things for visitors to come and see. Channel Live will appeal to a wide audience from across the IT, comms, data and mobile sectors and the content of the show will reflect this. We will be announcing our seminar schedule in due course which will be a big draw for visitors.
TR: Will it be more expensive to exhibit?
MB: Moving to a national venue such as the NEC is always going to increase costs, both to us and to exhibitors. We believe that whilst Channel Live is more expensive to exhibit at than the Convergence Summits, it’s a whole different beast and the size of the delegate audience will warrant the increase in price. Around 50% of exhibitors used to exhibit at two Convergence Summits each year, so for them, costs will remain largely the same.
TR: Has industry reaction to the new show been positive – what is some of the feedback you have had?
MB: Industry reaction so far has been wholly positive. Although our last Convergence Summit was the most successful ever, it was time for a change for us as a business; we recognised the market is moving on and we needed to evolve our offering. Our vendors who have been exhibiting at our events for years, and the resellers that have been attending them, agree with us. We based our decision on their feedback. It’s been made quite clear that this is what the market wants from a trade event.
TR: How does Channel Live differ to other channel events in the UK?
MB: Channel Live prides itself on being a trade-only event for the entire ICT Channel. Whilst there are other big events out there, such as IPEXPO, they primarily serve an end user audience, while Channel Live is solely trade-focused. There are plenty of small roadshows and conferences popping up at the moment, aiming to draw reseller crowds, but only Channel Live will cover all the current industry trends, hold cutting edge seminars and provide a platform for many vendors across the spectrum of the ICT Channel to launch transformational products.