Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 13 2012

POST CON: Macworld: ‘The Vibe of a Festival’

Christopher Durso

MEETING: Macworld 2012, IDG World Expo’s show for Apple product users, held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Jan. 26–28. CHALLENGES: With the Apple company having backed out of Macworld after the 2009 show, it’s up to IDG to create its own audience. This year, that meant not necessarily growing attendance but diversifying it, General Manager Paul Kent told Convene in a Pre Con interview, available at http://bit.ly/Pre-Con- Macworld. “Really,” Kent said in a follow-up interview, “what we wanted was to get to new people who hadn’t been at the show before.”

They succeeded. While total attendance was about that same as last year, 40 percent of attendees were first-timers. “We did an increased amount of social-media marketing this year, which was very helpful for us,” Kent said. “But the key to it was in the programming.”

INITIATIVES: Indeed, Macworld changed up its “overall programming concept,” expanding its standard lineup of education courses and product demonstrations to include cultural and artistic events and performances - all created or produced on Apple products. “It very much had the vibe of a festival,” Kent said, “with people celebrating this common interest - in this case Apple technology.”

Macworld 2012 teamed with South Park Studios - “the largest Apple-animation studio in the world,” according to Kent - to present a gallery of art from the “South Park” TV show. There were music performances on the main stage, with one band, moe., playing an entire song on their iPads. And Macworld partnered with a local club called The Mezzanine to present live events each night of the show, which ran from 10 a.m. until midnight.

Educational programming was similarly shaken up. Alongside standard how-to sessions, there were “out-of-the-box presentations” on how different organizations use Apple technology, including Stanford University School of Medicine, which has developed an app to “do a fly-through of the human brain.” Kent said: “We were looking for this rounded experience. Not just tech talk, but, how is this stuff being used in the world?”

On the show floor, Macworld had found that exhibitors increasingly were coming from the accessories sector, while attendees wanted more software and app developers. To attract that segment, Macworld created an OS10 Zone for Apple Mac developers and a Mobile App Showcase for iPad and iPhone developers. “We changed,” Kent said. “This is a large cruise ship, and we changed its course of direction in a year, and really have done a remarkable job in opening the show up to a whole new audience.”



Macworld 2011 San Francisco

25,000 Attendees

250+ Exhibitors

2012 San Francisco

25,000 Attendees

300+ Exhibitors

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