Friends know that I attend “some kind of convention in Las Vegas” every spring, but they have no real idea what it's about or why I go. I've tried explaining all the work, hassle and effort required. It doesn't help. All they hear is, “Convention means party!” This led me to ask: Why attend NAB?
While there are many reasons to attend any a convention, these first came to my mind.
SWAG! Come on, you know conventions are all about SWAG. Candy (maybe touched by hundreds of other fingers), buttons with flashing lights, luggage tags, maybe even a cap or tote bag. Sitting through a presentation will likely get you the better stuff. What's the best SWAG you've received?
Bright lights and pretty people. Come on, gals and guys, you know the NAB camera sets and reception desks are staffed with both good-looking hunks and babes. Attractive people attract crowds. It's marketing 101.
Party! Conventions are an excuse to let loose, have fun and trash your diet. Forget Michelle O's food mandates; it's time to eat, drink and have some (responsible) fun. Here's a tip that can save a few bucks (Boy, am I going to receive heat for this tip!):
If you would like to partake of free beer and some hors d'oeuvres, vendors are ready to accommodate. Be on the lookout for late-afternoon exhibitor receptions. Most of them begin at 6 p.m., when the exhibition floor closes. Your tip-off of an upcoming party will be convention hall staff converging on a vendor's booth with carts of food and beverages around 5:30 p.m. Keep your eyes open for your favorite vendor to hold a party, and then invite yourself.
Hands-on experiences. This is the key reason professionals attend conventions. They attend to get some one-on-one time with gear, even with gear they'll never be able to afford. That's okay. Go on, put your mitts on that shiny new $150,000 camera and zoom in on that model. You'll never get to do that at home. Or, pretend you're the TD behind that 500-button production switcher. Wow, feels cool doesn't it?
How does one divide his or her limited time between seminars and exhibits? Although it's great to attend seminars, most are available in printed and recorded form. You can always read the proceedings back at home.
What can't be put in a book or whitepaper is the first-person experience of handling equipment and technology. Nothing replaces the hands-on examination of equipment and one-on-one dialog with vendors.
The show encourages visitors to see, touch and try out thousands of pieces of new equipment and technology. Don't pass up this important opportunity. You'll later hate yourself if you spent two hours in an esoteric seminar titled “DeBayer filtering and demosaicing algorithms” instead of checking out the Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit products.
Vendors spend millions of dollars bringing their products to the show floor. They want to meet you and allow you to see and touch their shiny new solutions. Don't disappoint them.
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