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PC Expo Chief Christina Condos

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Christina Condos is the show director for CMP Media, the Manhassett, New York-based company that produces PC Expo, the East Coast's largest and, after 20 years, longest-running technology trade show. Condos joined CMP in 1988, and has held her current title since 1999. This year's expo runs from June 25 to 27.

What does it take to get PC Expo off the ground?

We have a staff of 20 people, and we outsource things like registration and printing. We use close to 30 vendors for computer rentals, audiovisual, floral, decorating, utilities, registration, banner and signage creation you name it. Last year we had 450 exhibitors and 47,000 attendees.

How is this year's event different from last year's?

You'll see much more emphasis on education and training. Before the Internet, people went to shows to collect simple product info. But the Internet has made it much easier for people to find what they need, so people come to shows to have face-to-face conversations. The function has changed, and that's true for most events these days. People are so much busier, they go to a trade show with a set agenda.

So what amenities and services are attendees looking for at these events now?

Because they're so busy, they?re looking for it to be easy to find what they need. One thing we do is, when they register and indicate that there's a certain product they?re interested in, we email them information before the show that applies to that. So they know where they should go to see what they?re looking for.

What are exhibitors looking for?

Anything that helps them get a return on investment. They want opportunities that make it easier for them to make money on the event, like press opportunities. We get more than 2,000 members of the press, and we help exhibitors make those appointments. We create speaking opportunities, sponsorship opportunities, and do anything we can to make it easier for attendees to find them.

Is online registration more important?

Absolutely. Our registration is 99.9 percent online. Very few people don't register online.

Are exhibitors getting more or less over-the-top in their floor presentations?

Shows are less over-the-top and more serious now. Exhibitors have learned that having something that gets people to your booth doesn't necessarily get the right people to your booth. And with budget cuts, everyone's trying to do more with less money. The big marketing extravaganzas have gone the way of its not that you don't see that, but not as much as you used to. The noise level has gone down.

Is it more challenging to get people to travel to events now?

Yes, if you're a business event and you're not in a business city. In our case, we're in the business capital of the world. But people are thinking more about travel, so I think you're getting more qualified people, because the people who feel the event is important still come. Being in New York is crucial to our audience. If we were in any other city it would be hard for us to have the same high-quality audience.

What's the biggest challenge of planning this event this year?

We're an IT event, and the IT industry has obviously been impacted by the economy. So we're trying to make the event as cost effective as it can be for exhibitors. We're being more flexible and creative. If people are having a year where their budget has come down, we're trying to work with them, and recognize that it's a long-term opportunity for everybody.

Is it easier to negotiate better prices from vendors now?

Yeah, it is, because they're all cognizant of the fact that it's been a difficult year for people. Not that you beat up your vendors, but they want to see the show continue, and they're working with us closely.

Posted 06.18.02
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