Friday, April 18, 2014

NAB 2014: What They Don't Tell You

Due to some lucky connections, I was presented the chance to attend the 2014 National Association of Broadcaster's trade-show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I worked as a videographer for Avere Systems, a distinguished company known for it's breakthrough work in NAS (Network Attached Storage) Optimization. For those of you unfamiliar with the annual NAB conferences, one-hundred thousand (ish) technology savvy individuals gather together in the enormous Las Vegas Convention Center to promote their own products and/or peruse the newest technology in Entertainment today. It's a big deal. If you want to learn more about the atmosphere and/or companies that present at NAB, check out an older blog of mine that discusses it all here The following material presented in this blog reflect my own personal observations of the 2014 Las Vegas NAB Show, not a re-cap of the most popular new technology. You've been warned.

The 2014 NAB Las Vegas Show-- Central Hall.
When it came to packing for the show, I got the same advice from no less than 5 different female sources: "Don't bring your cute heels. Find some memory foam sandals or un-assuming tennis shoes instead." I ignored the advice the first three times, it was the fourth and fifth plea that finally had me switching out my hot 5 inch heels for the pair of comfortable black "old lady shoes" I usually reserved for funerals. This proved sound advice. Any negative feelings I had towards the kooshy sandals melted away quickly as I walked miles upon miles through the thousands of exhibitor booths. The women's bathroom buzzed with complaints about blisters and pleas for extra bandages. More and more men too, I noticed, began substituting their narrow dress shoes for those of the athletic variety as the show progressed.  

On the first day of the conference, I grabbed lunch around 2 from an Indian-to-go restaurant. There were some tables scattered around the show floor, so I plopped down next to a couple of pretty women and an asian couple. I only had to exchange a few words with the asian couple before I realized that they didn't speak a word of English. I had better luck with the women. Olivia and Brittany were both tall, lean, and gorgeous. These two were classic examples of what most people referred to as "booth babes." Brittany and Olivia both make their living off of conventions and trade-shows. Booths hire beautiful ladies to lure men in close enough to swipe their information badges-- a great way to get the emails of potential customers. While I realize NAB is held in Vegas, I thought that such a large concentration of intelligence would know better than to promote such low-brow business techniques. One booth, run by a big-name brand whom I won't mention, had a girl up onstage presenting raffle prizes dressed only in paint. Really NAB? I expect a higher level of class from such a respected convention. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, media and technology is still a male-dominated field. Until we see more competent women in suits and polos, the hot painted babes are here to stay.

This is me in a polo.
Business cards are still used in most professional industries as a simple method of exchanging information inter-personally. However, due to the magnitude of the event, NAB has adopted a scanning system that allows exhibitors to collect and organize prospective customers’ information more efficiently. Every exhibitor, convention employee, and exhibitioner is required to wear a badge with a bar code. Each bar code holds the contact/employment info of the individual. This means, instead of trying to organize a forest’s worth of business cards, each booth receives a comprehensive digital copy of all of the customers that were scanned that day. Many booths also keep record of who they scan on a chart somewhat reminiscent of a filmmaker’s shot list. They may, for instance, note the scanned individual’s name, company, area of interest concerning our product, and how valuable that individual would be as a customer. The more interested a company, the higher number they receive on the “scan-log.” Especially at first, I found the whole scanning process very strange. Perfect strangers would shake hands and then present their badges to be scanned. Many companies send mass emails to those who get scanned, so unless genuinely interested in a product, I would suggest steering clear from trigger-happy booth babes.

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