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NAB 2014: A first-timer’s leap into the unknown

Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:00 AM

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NAB 2014 was WTS Sales Account Manager, James Fraser's first experience of the broadcast industry's largest trade show. Here he shares his impressions from a first-timer's viewpoint, and tells us about what he gained from a week spent in Las Vegas.

My first NAB has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Here’s what I remember!

Arriving in Las Vegas on the Friday afternoon, with my body clock all over the shop from the long flight, and the weekend ahead of us, the best thing I could have done would have been to get some rest and prepare myself for the forthcoming show. So naturally at 7am the following morning, I found myself strapped to another man about to jump out of an aeroplane circling 15,000 feet above the Nevada Desert. Thanks must go to both the WTS management team and Paul Froom from Sentinel Broadcast for organising/bullying me into that!

On Monday morning, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer size of what I later found out was only the south hall. I had yet to discover both the central and north halls, both of which were just as large as the one in front of me.

My first aim was to get round the hall and get hands-on with the equipment. I’ve worked in the broadcast industry for close to four years now and during that time have attended a handful of trade shows. Yet unbelievably I have not really previously had the opportunity to test drive all the new kit and actually speak to manufacturers. Most of my previous expo experience has taken the form of manning our own stands, so this time round I wanted to make the most of my punter status.

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I spent the first day listening, learning and digesting information. Spending that time with product specialists undoubtedly helped me get a better understanding of the kit and how it actually works, which will in turn allow me to offer a better knowledge of the equipment to our current and potential clients.

I was also on the lookout for products that I hadn’t heard of and that potentially WTS could find a gap in the market for. Uncovering hidden gems is no easy feat but I feel we found a few products that can expand our range and that we can definitely use and offer to clients.

Tuesday’s brief was a little different. I took the chance to show around Mike and Danny from Alias Hire, a good client of mine. We pre-planned to see specific manufacturers and their products and mapped out a route through the various halls – although inevitably it didn’t all go to plan as boys and their toys get distracted by new gadgets on other stands!

It was a really useful approach to the second day, as it allowed me to get closer to Mike and Danny and to develop a better understanding of their business and their clients’ needs. In return, I was able to help them see the equipment they were interested in by pre-arranging stand meetings and tours with manufacturers. The tours especially went very well and Alias will be placing orders for several new bits of equipment in the coming weeks, most notably the impressive new Canon Cine Servo Zoom lens (see below).

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Wednesday crept up on me like a nasty surprise post- the AJA party, but I was determined to make the most of the last day there and continue to learn about products and catch up with some familiar faces. I managed to get around the rest of the north hall, which I hadn’t seen and had some good discussions with some shared storage manufacturers as well as seeing some of the live production competitors of NewTek. I thought it was important to learn a bit more about some of the rival live production solutions out there, given NewTek are a manufacturer we work closely with, and whose products I sell a lot of.

My overall opinion of my first NAB was overall, positive. I loved the fact the stands were large, allowing you to size up the kit on show without having others breathing down your neck, despite the 98,000 strong crowd. I also found that the vast size of the halls meant I could walk around with a freedom unlike other shows and could get more ground covered, instead of stopping every two yards to say hello to familiar faces.

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There was a definite buzz about being there when all the new kit releases were announced – and being a dealer, we were among the first to find out! Being in that inner circle allowed me to then relay important information about new and upcoming products to my clients, which they really appreciated. It puts me in good stead with them and keeps me at the forefront of their mind when it comes to making their next purchases – something I think will prove invaluable.

I’m looking forward to next year already!

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