Distributor Almo Professional A/V, in partnership with InfoComm producer AVIXA, has set the agenda for the four cities its E4 A/V Tour will visit this year, intent on stressing with attendees the importance of serving up integrated customer experiences, Melody Craigmyle, vice president of marketing, said.
The Tour visits Washington, D.C. on March 6, Dallas on April 24, Boston on Sept. 21 and Nashville on Oct. 26, with the October meeting expanded into a multi-day destination event that will be both family-oriented and will include certification training and a technology tour of a venue to be determined.
“We’re following the lead of AVIXA,” she said. “It’s not just about, any single category but rather, about creating environments that make that make better meetings. On the show floor, there will be more emphasis on solutions and products working together – and the power of A/V – as opposed to just products.” Some vendor partners will also feature what Craigmyle characterized as “solutions corners” with products working synergistically, in concert, including areas like Samsung’s Showcase, which will feature different content partners – all, with an eye to “presenting more holistic solutions.”
Each of the four events will be flavored with local regional touches, and each will have a motivational speaker. So far, speakers have been designated for two of the four venues. The D.C. event will feature broadcaster and former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann; in Dallas, the speaker is former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Randy White.
“The tour grows every year,” Craigmyle said, noting that each customarily attracts anywhere from 400 to 500 attendees.
Popular classes, such as one presented last year on LG OLED – there will be curved displays available at the tours for hands-on time – are being reprised. And there are classes planned on A/V over IP – a hot tech topic – and on IoT. “A/V integrators are just getting their arms around what it means for them. From the consumer standpoint, it’s about smart speakers operating with your Nest and your smart TV, and even your smart refrigerator, that are on the network. What does that mean for A/V equipment and security, in particular? That will be a theme. We also have a class for the future of digital signage and smart connected cities – a brand-new class, talking about intelligent communication for critical infrastructure, and how digital signage will be at the forefront for that.”
Each E4 attendee is always surveyed for what they’d like to see at the next year’s Tour, and the information is put before a curriculum committee to help design future courses.
Additional emphasis this year will be placed on education about audio solutions, Craigmyle said, and Almo has just hired Steve Alexander as its Business Development Manager; his expertise lies in live-event production. “For many integrators, audio is a personal choice, and we’re adding on more vendor partners to satisfy their preferences so they can source through Almo.”
Almo is also placing a focus on on managed services – “augmenting our integrators’ ability to offer more,” she explained. This partly entails enabling integrators to access third-party, thoroughly vetted installation labor services that could be helpful if they’re working a project in a region other than where they are located. It also entails the offering of content creation services for digital signage.
“We want to be our integrators’ ‘depth of bench,’ ” said Craigmyle.