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Written by Mike Buetow   
Friday, 29 February 2008 19:00

A great technical conference and location are most important, readers say.

Trade show talk always dominates industry chatter, especially following the slew of events last fall. Are there too many? Too few? Is the ideal time the spring? The fall? Do engineers prefer a great location or proximity to home? Should Apex take place every year, or on an alternating schedule with Productronica?

In December we asked readers to weigh in. The survey was conducted Dec. 7-14, 2007. A total of 1,400 North American readers of Circuits Assembly and Printed Circuit Design & Fab were randomly selected and invited by email to participate. A total of 78 valid (completed) responses were received, a 5.6% response rate.

Of the respondents, about 33% were PWB design or layout personnel, while 32.1% were fabrication or assembly engineers (including test engineers) or managers. More than half – 53.8% – the respondents work for OEMs, with slightly more than 10% each employed by EMS firms, fabricators or design service bureaus. More than three-quarters said they’d attended at least one show in the past 12 months.

Of those who had attended shows, some 56.9% said their primary reason was the technical conference. Another 23.6% indicated their intent was to see new products, and 12.5% went to network.

Asked to rate the importance of several factors known to influence attendance, the technical program stood out, with 64.1% of respondents indicating it was very important or extremely important. Another 42.3% said location looms large in their decision-making, and 47.4% said cost is a huge factor. Time away from work is a factor, but probably not as paramount as some have speculated. The same can be said for the exhibitors. The show producer has only marginal sway.

In response to perhaps the most hotly debated question – Does North America need a major industry trade show to be held every year? – 76.9% responded in the affirmative.

Among assembly engineers, there were some differences from the broader population. For example, 75% said time away from work is an important to extremely important factor, and about 67% said the same about cost. Some 46% each chose “attend the technical conference” and “see new products” as primary reasons for attending. However, they agreed with the larger population that the exhibitors and the show location are important, while the show's producer is not. Two-thirds of assembly engineers responding agreed there should be a major North American show every year.

Of the factors that would make them more likely to attend a North American trade show, assembly engineers ranked location first (83.3%), followed by the technical conference (75%). Access to a pool of leading exhibitors (67%) outranked the presence of their own key suppliers (50%). Hospitality suites and the fear of missing “something special” are non-factors, the group indicated.

Because of a coding error, responses to a question on the distance attendees traveled to shows were discarded.

All in all, it’s clear that from our subscribers’ perspective, a show with a great technical program in, say, Las Vegas stands a better chance of succeeding than a vendor-only show in Las Cruces. And while their European counterparts appear to love the grandeur of Productronica, Americans place less emphasis on the pomp and more on the circumstance.

(Click here to see The Survey at a Glance.)

Mike Buetow
is editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2008 07:28
 

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