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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 01:59 PM   #1
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NAB pointers

This year, I'm finally making the trip to the NAB show in Vegas. Thankfully I get to wander around the show for 3 full days, which should allow some time to take part in some of the attractions. I still have about a month to check out maps and stuff like that, but know nothing about what goes on or how to maximize my time. That's where I'm hoping you repeat NAB goers can help me out. Are there any good ways to get myself organized? Or maybe some tips like "always go from right to left" or something like that?

I do know this place is huge-mongous, but have a feeling that I'll still be blown away once I actually step inside. Any pointers you might have will be super appreciated.
Nicholi Brossia
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 07:55 PM   #2
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Get a list of all of the exhibitors from the NAB site. Go through the list and find those you REALLY must see. Find out where those booths are in relation to one another... for example this year discreet, apple, and avid are right next to each other. Finding booth numbers is vital here.
On your first day visit those must see booths. If you plan on sitting through multiple demos - most companies will have different demos throughout the day (repeated of course). My experience is if you want to sit through all the demos (for example FCP, Express, SoundTrack, LiveType, XServe, etc from Apple) it will probably take you about an hour or more. If you don't want to sit through all of the demos, make note of what time the "shows" start. There should be a sign that says when these begin and end.

The second and third days can be spent picking up those must sees you missed, those second on the list, and then wandering.

As a press reporter, I spend the first 2.75 days making my one on one appointments and then spend the third day literally wandering up and down the aisles looking for those "wow" items that don't get much press or are debuting at the show.

Interestingly NAB is very much like oh so many theme parks - those attractions up front (like Apple, discreet, Avid). A key to getting on the rides at the theme parks is to get as far away from the entrance as possible when the park opens and work your way back to the front. I've found the same idea applies to NAB. Go to the back of the convention hall and then work your way to the front doors, by the time you get to the front those first booths won't be AS crowded.
Also, unless you have alot to see, getting there as soon as the show floor opens on the first day is a mistake as EVERYBODY is there and it can be difficult to get in.

Even if you have to dress business professional, there is nothing wrong with wearing sneakers or comfortable shoes. You will be walking miles and mile and miles at the show. My favorite combo is nylon dress socks and sneakers... my feet are wonderful all day.

At night try to catch some of the special events like those from ProMax of IMUG (some cost money). There are all sorts of after show "parties" that go on. Some companies will hand out passes at the booths, other are on a know only basis. If you have friends that work, represent, or sell for those companies, check with them and see what is going on.

Finally, try to enjoy some Vegas. If you have never been there are all sorts of things to do. If you HAVE the freetime, I might suggest seeing Blue Man Group if you haven't seen them before, checking out the many all you can eat buffet's like:

Sahara - for $7 it is surprisingly good
Aladdin - if you like sushi, you'll love Todai for $24
Bellagio - Nothing beats this all you can monster

Of course you will also want to check out the bellagio fountains - they never fail to amaze me.
There are many many more... Hope that helps! Cheers
Stephen Schleicher
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 08:32 PM   #3
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Nicholi, Stephen, and everyone else attending NAB,

If you plan on attending NAB, make sure you stop by the Canon booth and say hello, ok? Chris Hurd will be in the booth as well.

Definitely come over and introduce yourself! Will definitely be into getting together for drinks one night... A good time is guaranteed for all.

- don
DONALD BERUBE - noisybrain. Productions, LLC
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips. I can certainly relate to the whole "theme park" approach to browsing the show. That will prove to be very helpful. One thing that caught my eye is where you mentioned dressing business professional. Is this required in any way or maybe just a good idea to be seen as credible? Unfortunately, I don't own a single piece of "business professional" clothing, so depending on your answer, I may have to go buy some.

I'm also glad you mentioned the other Vegas attractions, especially the buffets. Even though this is a huge event, it sounds like a good idea to break it up a little.

I'll definately drop by the booth and see what you guys are up to.

Sounds like this is going to be a blast. I'm certainly looking forward to browsing the show and maybe meeting a few dvinfonetters.
Nicholi Brossia
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Old March 24th, 2004, 07:10 AM   #5
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Not everyone dresses business professional. You will see alot of people in jeans and t-shirts or button down shirts. Some companies expect their employees to look professional at the event, so you will see alot of people wearing slacks and button down shirts and an occasional tie.

Me, I'll be wearing dockers and our company button down shirts with the DMN logo on it, and a good pair of casual but comfortable shoes.

You certainly won't be turned away for wearing jeans and a polo shirt....

If you have never been to Vegas do spend some time checking out some of the other sites after the show floor closes each day. Don't spend all your money gambling though - although the wife and I did spend a great afternoon playing the quarter slots at the bellagio during our honeymoon.

I've got a one on one meeting with Canon Monday at 3:00, so hopefully I'll see you there... just look for the geeky guy... ;)

Stephen Schleicher
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Old March 24th, 2004, 10:39 AM   #6
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Stephen, from my point of view as one who has attended or exhibited at NAB for seven years, I think your tips and suggestions are dead-on accurate and consititue some really sound advice. Thanks!

I'm not so sure I'm working a booth this year -- I haven't yet been asked -- and frankly I think I'd rather just attend this time around. Lots of great stuff going on this year. So much to see!

Some other tips: Large booths at major shows such as NAB and CES are manned with a big staff. There's a hierarchy. Keep this in mind when you visit and have questions to ask. Here's a staff breakdown:

At the lowest level are the Booth Monkeys. These are the tech reps who are there to answer specific product-related questions and to show you the latest gear and whatnot, and explain how it works. This is my own function at a trade show; as the guy behind the product counter. If you have a killer idea that you want to share or sell to the company, or you think this company should fund your independant film because you're going to use their camera to shoot it, or if you want to complain about the company's poor products and/or customer service, then the Booth Monkey can listen but really won't be able to help you out with any of those issues. You'll need a Suit for that, described below. The Booth Monkeys are there just to show you what's new and explain how to use it and tell you how much it costs. It's easy to identify the Booth Monkeys because they all wear the same Monkey Shirt, clearly embroidered with the company brand.

Then there are the Booth Babes. Typically they are hired local talent and they're there in a capacity as presenters reading from a scripted monologue or as static displays in a shooting gallery. I do not mean this term as a sexist remark, because many Booth Babes are male models or at least they're guys who look like they can fill the role. The title simply applies from either gender's point of view. Like the Booth Monkeys, Booth Babes really can't help you with whatever issues you may have and usually don't really know anything about the product line at all. But they're Beautiful People so therefore they outrank the Booth Monkeys.

Sometimes an educated Booth Monkey will give the presentation, especially if it's a demo for some kind of software. Usually they've written their own script or are knowledgeable enough to make it up on the fly. This kind of Booth Monkey is usually a better resource than the counter help, but he or she is often too busy preparing for the next presentation and spends any available down-time in the break room.

In charge of the Monkeys and the Babes is the Booth Fuhrer. This person is usually a lower-level Suit (see below) or a senior-level tech rep. Their primary function is booth management and on-site customer service, which doesn't really concern you as an attendee unless a Monkey becomes rude to you when you're griping to them about how much their company stinks. Although the Booth Fuhrer is a well-spring of company and product information, he or she may be hard to pick out and identify. You don't want to walk up and say, "who's the Booth Fuhrer?" because you'll get a funny look, or worse. These designations are most definitely NOT universal, obviously, nor are they officially recognized, nor should any attendee actually use this jargon on the show floor. I'm simply sharing the insider trade-show geek speak with you.

On-site executive types are Suits. Usually a Suit is a Vice President of something or a Product Manager or maybe a national or regional Sales Manager. Sales will speak to you only if you're there to buy in quantity whereas a V.P. can deal with company issues and a P.M. can deal with product issues. But Product Managers will sometimes masquerade as Booth Monkeys by wearing a Monkey Shirt instead of a suit. Also, on-site Suits are often difficult to distinguish from each other or from visiting Suits, and it's a mistake to just walk up to one who is already engaged in conversation. If a Suit is talking to another Suit, or to a civillian (a normal attendee in Dockers and a polo shirt), you might linger nearby a short while and maybe get a talking turn -- but then the Suit you waited so long to talk to may not be the one you really need. Especially if it's a salesperson. How many units did you want to buy today?

If this sounds confusing, that's because it is. So how do you figure out who you should talk to? How do you find the person that you think needs to hear what you have to say. Alas, there is an easy answer. The final equation in the trade show booth staff, and the ones who really make things happen and are there to insure the success of the trade show experience for attendees as well as exhibitors, are the Booth Mothers, or Booth Moms. More appropriately known as Receptionists, the Booth Moms run the Reception / Information counter and are there to help you find exactly who or what you're looking for. If you're looking for somebody by name, the Booth Mom will tell you which counter he or she is at, or whether they're away for lunch or in a meeting and will take a message from you or schedule an appointment for you. If you have a killer idea you want to share or sell to the company, tell the Booth Mom that you need to speak to someone about that but don't waste your time explaining the idea in detail to the Booth Mom. Reception's job is to get you where you need to go, not to hear your life story. The Booth Mom will locate a V.P. or Product Manager for you or schedule a meeting for you if the agenda isn't already full, and if you need specific product info, the Booth Mom will point you to the appropriate Booth Monkey. Remember, that's what the Reception / Information counter is for, to get you where you need to be and in front of who you need to talk to. There's only a small price for this service -- you should let the Receptionist scan your badge or swipe your card, if asked. If they don't ask, you don't have to volunteer; but it's a little rude to turn down their request to scan your badge when they're trying to help you out with your issues. If you don't want the hard-copy product lit, you don't have to take it. But if you don't want your badge data swiped, just enter some bogus info for the badge and let them scan away. And again, the role of Booth Mom is often filled by male staff members so please don't think of a sexist implication by the title. Some of the best Booth Mothers can be guys. It all depends.

A brief re-cap of the booth staff and who you need:

Tell me what's new / how much / what does it do / how do I turn this on:
You need a Shirt (Booth Monkey; a.k.a. Tech Rep or Technical Representative).

Your company stinks / Fund my project / I have a killer idea / Buy my product:
You need a Suit (Vice President or Senior Manager).

Your product stinks / Give me product / I have a killer idea / Why don't you make or do this:
You need a Suit (Product Manager, might be wearing a Shirt).

I'm ready to buy x-number of units today:
You need a Suit (Sales Manager, preferably covering your area).

I love your products and/or company:
Tell any Booth Monkey, but a Booth Babe will do, or if you're in a hurry, the Booth Mom at the Information counter

I hate your products and/or company:
Any Suit will do. Don't give the Monkeys are hard time; they can't do anything about it anyway.

Somebody here was rude to me:
You need the Booth Fuhrer, see the Receptionist

When is the next presentation / Who can I complain to / Who can I explain my killer idea to / Where do I go for this / I want product literature / Where is this specific person / Can you tell me where the nearest something is:
You need a Receptionist (Booth Mother), find the Information counter, this should be your first stop!

Hope this helps!

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Old March 24th, 2004, 01:03 PM   #7
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Hey Chris,

Amy Jo and I will be out of the country during NAB so I won't catch you this time around, we're both disappointed about missing the Vegas trip this year--no chocolate Lemo connectors or sideways glances at Booth Babes (guess who will miss what)...have a fun show.
Charles Papert
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