Atlanta -- Last week's Eastern Show was an intimate
The regional trade show, run by the Southern Cable
Telecommunications Association, moved to the America's Mart facility in downtown
Atlanta after a one-year hiatus. In 1998, the SCTA held its convention in Orlando, Fla.
After the Orlando convention, the SCTA decided to slash the
size of the exhibit space, moving into the 45,000-square-foot hall at America's Mart.
The association also placed a bigger focus on the panel
sessions, hiring outside speakers such as former The Coca-Cola Co. marketing chief Peter
Sealey and The Weekly Standard editor and publisher Bill Kristol to give
presentations tied to its "Eastern Leadership 2000" theme.
The sessions, however, were sparsely attended. Liberty
Digital CEO Lee Masters was the biggest draw, with 150 to 200 people attending his
27-minute opening-general-session speech on industry trends.
About 50 people attended Kristol's presentation on
communications, while 13 attendees showed up for former Southwest Airlines Co. CEO Howard
Putnam's presentation on ethics and about 50 attended Sealey's marketing speech.
About 75 attendees hung around for the closing general
session, which featured Black Entertainment Television CEO Bob Johnson, Insight
Communications Co. Inc. CEO Michael Willner and Cox Communications Inc. president of
operations Margaret Bellville.
Although consolidation has had a negative impact on
regional and state shows, forcing some to cancel altogether, SCTA executive director Nancy
Horne said there will be a show next year, back in Atlanta.
Although Horne said she was pleased with the turnout at the
sessions, she added that the exhibit hall at next year's convention wouldn't be
open while the sessions are running. "We will tweak it some to make sure we're
not running the sessions concurrently, but basically, it will be the same," she said,
explaining that she expects the exhibitors to be able to attend the sessions if the
exhibit hall is closed.
It's still not clear how many people attended last
week's show. Last Wednesday, Horne said attendance was up 20 percent to 25 percent
from the Orlando convention, which, she said, drew 2,100 attendees.
But Thursday, Horne recanted the 1998 figure. While she
maintained that attendance was up 20 percent to 25 percent from 1998, she refused to
discuss how many people registered for both the 1998 and 2000 conventions. "I'm
not prepared to stand by those numbers," she added.
Claus Kroeger, secretary of the SCTA board and senior vice
president of operations at Cox Communications Inc., said he was disappointed with the
turnout at the sessions but pleased with the presentations overall.
"Obviously, you'd love to have the room packed
every time, and we obviously didn't have that," Kroeger said. "I thought
the quality of the presentations were quite good."
Exhibitors had mixed reaction to this year's Eastern
Show. "The volume of people isn't tremendous, but the quality of people coming
through here is good," Wavetek Waldel Goltermann account executive Dennis Luck said.
American Movie Classics marketing manager Cheryl Reno said
she met with at least 100 people from cable systems, ranging from installers to general
managers. "We got a couple of leads," she added, noting that she thought
attendance was down compared with the 1998 convention.