ISA to move to knowledge-based event
After another year of declining attendance and exhibitors, the International Society of Automation announced Wednesday it would end its ISA Expo and would instead conduct a week-long series of knowledge-based programs and events.
The first ISA Automation Week will be Oct. 4-7 at the Westin Galleria in downtown Houston. That’s a major change from the past few years, where the Expo was held at Houston’s Reliant Center exhibition hall. In going away from an event centered on trade show booths and floor traffic, ISA officials said Wednesday they wanted to get back to more of the core principles of ISA.
"It’s all about knowledge ," said ISA president Jerry Cockrell. "ISA is a knowledge society. We have 30,000 members and we train, we educate, we run seminars and symposia, we have standards, books, educational programs — everything we disseminate is based on knowledge. We’re excited about what ISA Automation Week can offer."
This year, those education programs drew just 200 registrants, while about 8,000 attended the Expo. Both figures were down significantly from 2008, and overall ISA attendance fell in the last decade. There were also noticeably fewer exhibitor booths on the Reliant Center floor. While the cost and logistics of holding such an event in a convention center were factors, ISA officials focused their announcement around being able to call more attention to the work of ISA technical committees and the ability to deliver better knowledge more effectively.
What it will mean for vendors was also clear. While suppliers will be able to exhibit at Automation Week, they will be limited to 10-by-10 spaces, and no vendor will be able to have more than two spaces. With just 100 booth spaces available for the 2010 show in Houston, the emphasis will go away from product displays. In fact the display floor will be closed during technical sessions at Automation Week to move attendees toward those sessions.
ISA officials said they will continue to alter the Automation Week format between now and the 2010 event, and left open that the 2011 event could be moved out of Houston and expanded in the size of exhibitor booths available.
"The show used to be the place where companies announced product releases. Now there are many other ways to get products out into the market," said ISA executive director Pat Gouhin. "The whole dynamics have changed; we have to change, too."
– Bob Vavra, Reed Business Information, also writes the Plant Engineering blog, Five Fast Things .