Buenos Aires, Argentina -- Inforexco Trade Shows
International, past organizers of Argentina's ATVC cable show, have launched an
independent effort to usurp the annual event's status as Latin America's premier
With a promise to better tailor the show to today's
business realities, Inforexco hopes to capitalize on growing industry dissatisfaction with
the event, widely known as Jornadas.
According to Inforexco marketing director Gustavo Fregotte,
the idea for the rival event, to be called Open Show, was born from industry frustration
surrounding the decline of Jornadas. Inforexco has co-organized that event with sector
groups since it started 10 years ago.
At the root of the frustration with Jornadas, Fregotte
said, is the market trend toward ownership consolidation, which resulted in dwindling
prospects for attracting customers to the event. Attendance at this year's event,
held in July, was visibly lower than that of previous shows.
Inforexco promises to provide companies with an intimate,
less flashy and less expensive environment in which to conduct business. In addition,
organizers intend to provide a second venue, equipped with state-of-the-art technology,
where exhibitors will be able to market their programming directly to the general public.
Promotional events taking place in individual mini-stadiums
that hold 150 people each are expected to draw 150,000 visitors during the week-long show,
Reaction from the Argentine Cable TV Association (ATVC) --
which is Jornadas' main backer and relies on the show as its primary source of
revenue -- has so far been standoffish. Plans for next year's Jornadas are already
underway, and the ATVC does not intend to partake in the alternative convention, though
Inforexco said it is welcome to do so.
"ATVC is the institution that brings together the
industry, and Inforexco is a business that organizes conferences for profit. Therefore, I
don't see how one can consider them competition," said ATVC spokeswoman Renée
Stuller de Lima. "I think the exhibitors are going to know which show best represents
Still, Stuller de Lima recognizes that consolidation in the
sector presents new challenges that must be adequately addressed in order for the show to
maintain its privileged status. Changes in the show's format are inevitable, she
said, but no decisions have been made.
On the contentious issue of the void left by
Inforexco's departure, ATVC was less forthcoming. In a recent press release, the
group said it was evaluating organizational alternatives for the show and would soon
disclose more details. No date for the next Jornadas has been set.
The first Open Show will be held at the recently renovated
La Rural exhibition center from Sept. 12 to Sept. 17, 2000.
As both sides acknowledge, the likely arbiters in this
emerging dispute will be the programmers, cable operators and equipment suppliers that are
the bread and butter of any successful show. Though most exhibitors are weary of an
unendorsed show, many privately welcome a radical change to Jornadas' format even if
they are still unaware of the specifics of the Inforexco proposal.
However, their principal concern is that future shows in
Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America are cost-effective
"Every show demands a lot from exhibitors, especially
if it is held outside of the U.S.," said Piero Falci, General Instrument Corp.'s
Latin American marketing director. "I'm in favor of trade shows, but they work
only when people come. In Argentina, the number of buyers is shrinking every year."
Falci says that for such established suppliers as GI, trade
shows offer diminishing financial returns because potential buyers are already well known.
Instead, successful networking takes place during VIP business trips, from affiliate
offices in local markets and at major U.S. events, such as the National Cable Television
Association's annual National Show.