Kerry Moyer, the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) executive director of both the Professional Audio-Video Retailers Association (PARA) and TechHome, talks about what will appeal most to those in the custom and specialty business at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
A number of custom and specialty retailers and installers say they don’t want to attend CES because it’s “too big,” “too expensive,” “too PC-oriented,” “too unfocused,” “CEDIA is a better show for us.” How does CEA respond to these criticisms? Why should custom and specialty dealers attend CES?
Coincidentally, I just had this conversation with a PARA board member. He was refuting others who have raised these objections to him and, in doing so, described to me what his company’s plans were for the upcoming CES. Quite simply, he was not booking his usual number of appointments with vendors this year; [he was not] spending all his time in meetings, rather than on the show floor. Instead, his plan was to walk the show floor to look for new products, entirely new product categories—new business opportunities! He wants to be out in front, a leader—the first to take advantage of new opportunities.
I agree, and that is what, for me, International CES has become all about—new technology, new categories of products, leading to new business opportunities. Now more than ever, in this fast-paced, converging market, astute dealers and installers need to be looking ahead, looking for new products, new opportunities that help them differentiate their offerings from those of their competition. Can you think of a better place to find all these new opportunities gathered under one roof?
Take the time to walk the show. Look around. When was the last time you did it? Go to MyCES on www.CESweb.org and create a profile—find the new products, the new opportunities you are most interested in. Make the connections in advance of the show and you can navigate the show with direction and purpose.
On the other hand, CES traditionally has been the place where dealers can meet with their vendors. In fact, CES may be the only opportunity all year for smaller dealers to interact with the highest-level executives at the larger CE companies. Having been a dealer, I can tell you that these meetings were extremely important to my company.
What at this year’s show is specifically geared for the custom/specialty dealer audience?
Seems to me the “convergence” we have been talking about for years has been happening and has started to pick up the pace. Just look at the proliferation of Media Center-based platforms now available. I was amazed at what I saw [at EHX Fall]. Expect to see more at CES, especially with the new Windows Vista coming to market.
Just take a look at the applications available to the consumer on any Media Center-based home page. If you’re not able to fulfill any of these applications—either product- or service-wise—then you cannot offer your customer a complete solution. Many dealers and installers already offer solutions for audio and video distribution throughout the house, but what about lighting control? Now there’s an application, home lighting control, that I think many should explore. It’s a natural extension springing out of lighting applications used in the home theater setting.
Another group of products catching my attention is the single-zone media server system that would appear to replace a home theater system as we know it today. One system offers a terabyte of media storage, multiple channels of amplification and is packaged like a home theater receiver—a complete system including speakers is offered. Pricing is affordable, being a single-zone solution with minimal installation required, and these provide an entry-level solution. Loading customers’ media onto servers is a service that presents a new business opportunity worth exploring. Providing backup for such data is another opportunity.
What’s new at CES this year for the custom/specialty audience?
A lot of people think “CES” and “new products,” but we also offer an assortment of educational programming and conference tracks and, of course, our keynotes. This is a chance to hear it from the experts!
For integrators and technology installers, we’ll be offering our latest TechHome Basic Training. So if you missed it at EHX Fall, here’s your chance to take the only training we presently offer focused on residential infrastructure, home networking and home automation and its integration. Or check-out Connections: The Digital Home Conference and its Business Models for Managing the Digital Home. For more information and to register, simply go to www.CESweb.org.
Then there’s our Great Audio Experience promotion, featuring live performances by the popular rock band 3 Doors Down. The message is simple: Want a great entertainment experience? Get great audio components! Portable digital audio devices have had a huge impact on the market, but with a high-quality home audio system, your music can really rock!
Then there’s everything CEA has been doing this past year to promote audio as part of the HDTV experience; increasing the attachment rate of 5.1 audio systems to TV purchases. I think we moved the meter.
Hey, speaking of live performances, let’s talk about parties. For the first time, PARA is having its CEA Cocktail Party in conjunction with that of High Performance Audio (HPA). Both will be in our new venue, the Venetian, on Monday night, January 8, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. PARA will be in Marco Polo Ballroom; while HPA will be right next door. HPA will feature live acoustic performances by Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, guitar players for the legendary rock band Little Feat. TechHome will host its CES reception on the same date and time, only in South Hall Room S226 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Can you talk yet about any plans for even more new initiatives for this audience at the 2008 CES?
Maybe we should take this one year at a time. As I said, we’re in a fast-paced, ever-changing industry. Without a crystal ball, I would be hard pressed to tell you what I think might be the next big thing in 2008. I’ve got plenty of things to talk about for 2007, and we’re not even there yet.
First and top of mind for me, it’s the annual PARA Management Conference. This should be of interest to not only PARA dealers, but also custom installers and integrators. Why? Because, for the first time ever, we’re co-locating the conference within EHX Spring in Orlando, March 7 to 10, at The Peabody Hotel—just across the street from the Orange County Convention Center and the EHX show floor. You get the best of both worlds—the opportunity to attend the great business management sessions we have planned for PARA, but also, if you come early, you can attend the training and sessions offered at EHX. In addition to trying to get our arms around showroom-based and the new hybrid retail models, we’ll be focusing on the nuts and bolts, the blocking and tackling, if you will, of retail business management. So whether you’ve been around for 30 years or more or you’re a new dealer looking to grow your business, the day-long session presented by the Retail Owners Institute will provide some good takeaways that you can put to use come Monday morning.
In 2007, we’re looking to grow PARA—for PARA to become the business management resource for dealers and installers. PARA has always been about education and information-sharing among dealers. Now we want to reach out to installers and to re-establish the networking and exchange that took place with vendors.
To realize this, we have to do something unique. Our plan is to make education and training available on demand, 24/7—when dealers and installers want to access it. We are looking at the potential for delivery and access afforded by all kinds of new, rich media, in addition to online. The programming and material we preview at the 2007 conference [will be] just a springboard. We’re looking to build out a business management program based on best practices and how specialty dealers and installers come to market.
Dealers and installers looking to grow their businesses would do well to give membership in PARA a second look. CR