HTSA Gets ‘Creative’ in Texas
“Creative Collaboration” was the theme of the spring 2013 meeting of Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), and the event certainly lived up to that title, as it featured a variety of activities conceived to spurn the group’s member dealers and associated vendors to work together in new, inventive ways.
Held April 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, the meeting began with opening comments from managing director Bob Hana, who gave attendees a preview of what was going to be occurring during the meeting, as well as “State of the Union” presentation on the current status of HTSA.
HTSA director of marketing Kathleen Marini took the stage to update the buying group’s member dealers on the progress of its marketing efforts, including:
• A marketing communications program that will offer PR, communications, social media and event planning services to members
• A database building program, which offers an app that enables members to build their own database lists, expedite emails, and build their social media presence
• A monthly HTSA newsletter to inform members of current activities and news
• A national HTSA consumer database available to member dealers that now includes more than 1,500,000 email and print addresses
• The Home Technology Guide publication, 22,500 copies of which were distributed to HTSA members to educate consumers on the services they provide and how their technology works
• CE Demo Days, a CEA-driven national campaign designed to bring consumers into HTSA dealerships for extensive product demos during June
• HTSA’s consumer-focused hdliving.com website, which the organization announced has experienced a 23 percent increase in visits since October 2012
To further its efforts in this area, Marini announced that HTSA will hold a marketing conference July 9–11 in Chicago. It will be aimed at dealers’ marketing specialists, not salespeople.
Return to the Cloud
Continuing a topic of focus from the last HTSA meeting, held October 2012 in Chicago: cloud technology. Stressing the cloud’s present and future impact on today’s businesses, “Cloud Part II” featured a panel of vendor Mike Maniscalco, ihiji; along with HTSA dealers Leon Shaw, Audio Advice; and Franklin Karp, Audio Video Systems.
The discussion covered the potential advantages of cloud tech for CE dealers, including:
• Appeal to customers with lower upfront costs
• Streamlined project management
• Fewer networking challenges
• Fewer truck rolls
The potential cons of the cloud discussed included:
• What happens if the Internet goes down?
• What if the server goes down?
• What if the provider goes kaput?
• Recurring fees
“How do we reap the big rewards (of the cloud)?” asked Maniscalo, who suggested dealers “focus less on selling boxes” and focus instead on selling services related to cloud tech. He advised that dealers get set up with the proper gear needed to run this tech, saying “Your equipment needs to handle all of that traffic. … Don’t get left out of this.”
Karp suggested the following uses for cloud tech that have been successful for his dealership:
• weather systems
• touch panel control
• push notifications
Mixing it Up
The morning session on April 4 was devoted to “Tech Mix” open technology forums, in which dealers visited with vendors set up at tables for informal, non-sales-oriented chats about the technologies they worked in.
Topics covered in these meetings included soundbars, Smart TV (including touchscreen technology), power racks and cables.
As with previous HTSA meetings, the spring event provided ample opportunities for attendees, both dealer and vendor, to socialize while enjoying the local setting. The afternoon of April 4 saw the group breaking out for a variety of fun activities, including a walking tour of the San Antonio Riverwalk, horseback riding, a cooking class at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, spa and pool time, and of course, the old CE standby: golf.
The socializing and fun was capped off with an authentic Texas barbeque at the Rio Cibolo Ranch. Situated on the outskirts of downtown San Antonio, the ranch offered hayrides, a country band, and a mechanical bull that felled even the most persistent brave souls who hopped on.
Friday’s closing day activities kicked off with an outdoor breakfast at the Q restaurant, just across the street from the Hyatt Regency, during which attendees could look out over the beautiful San Antonio skyline as they recounted adventures from the past day.
Back at the Hyatt, the Spring Meeting concluded with member dealers sharing success stories that have occurred in their businesses over the past year.