Chicago Could Barely Contain the Excitement of the HTSA Fall Conference
If you were to ask me to pick one word that could capture the pure essence of what HTSA’s Fall Conference was all about, I’d have to settle with excited. The members in attendance, which accounted for about 90 percent of the entire HTSA membership, were excited to be not only in Chicago, but at the hotel where the organization got started 20 years ago—The Westin on Michigan Avenue. The vendors on hand were excited to get face time during their various one-on-ones with members. And, heck, even the press there were excited to have the opportunity to speak on a panel in front of the entire audience.
There’s just a sense of excitement around everything that’s going on at HTSA, and it was apparent from Executive Director Jon Robbins’ opening State of the Union address, through the final minutes of the Vendor Fest, hosted on the closing day of the show.
During his address, Robbins hit on several points that have really defined his first year at the helm of the organization he once was a member of. For starters, he reaffirmed his commitment to making everything that the organization does about education. The Masterclass series that got underway this year, with multiday workshops on audio and technical skills, is just one example of that commitment. Robbins hinted at future classes that would be offered through partnerships with vendors and other members in the industry.
The education theme trickled down to the content presented at this year’s Fall Conference. In Chicago, HTSA invited members of the media (myself included) the sit on a panel about the impact Voice Control technology has had and will continue to have on the CI channel. The conversation picked up where Amazon and CEDIA left off, but the group of us agreed, for the most part, that the technology will serve as another tool for consumers (and installers) in their continued quest to make life simpler through technology. Alexa and other similar tech won’t be the be-all-end-all for consumers, so integrators shouldn’t look at it that way. But they do need to consider how they can work the technology into their installation packages, and understand that this is something consumers are going to start (and already) asking for.
HTSA also welcomed Alicia Rainwater, a certified speaker from the Center for Generation Kinetics, to address members and vendors on the strategies for generational marketing. Specifically, Rainwater used her expertise in millennials, and experience as a millennial, to offer some tips to the group. The presentation might’ve been a little familiar to anyone who was in the room to hear Jason Dorsey, CGK’s founder and CEO, speak at Nationwide in Nashville earlier this year.
Other sessions during the Conference included presentations by Video and Audio Center’s Tom Campbell who spoke on Hollywood’s interest in the home entertainment market, Steve Bryant from Nationwide Prime Media who pitched members on the possibilities available through the HTSA-HTSN partnership, and Tim McLain from Netsertive who explained how members can leverage social media in their marketing efforts.
The real meat of HTSA meetings, from what I’ve experienced in the two that I’ve now been to, comes from the one-on-one meetings that the group sets up for members, vendors, and media. It has a speed-dating sort of feel to it, but the access and opportunity to get face to face with members is a tremendous value from a business and informational standpoint.
HTSA members, from what I gathered during those meetings, are beyond thrilled with the direction the organization is heading. They credit that to the man at the helm, despite his less-than-a-year in office. With so much momentum heading into the home stretch of 2016, it’ll be fun to watch as Robbins and HTSA get set for year two.
Expectations? They’re through the roof.