How Orlando Delivers Record-Breaking Attendance

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

More than 44,000 attendees, exhibitors, dealers, and distributors from all over the globe came to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center from June 14–16 for InfoComm 2017, North America’s largest audiovisual trade show. That number shattered previous attendance records and was 14 percent higher than InfoComm 2016 in Las Vegas. Featuring 950 exhibitors from all different sectors of the AV industry, this year’s event was InfoComm’s largest to date.

It was what Jason McGraw, senior vice president of expositions at AVIXA, formerly InfoComm International, called “a watershed year” for the event. “The technology on display was amazing again, and we’re thrilled with the tremendous response, but we’re especially excited that guest after guest told us this InfoComm offered new and different experiences for our growing, innovative audience.”

Stepping into the exhibit hall at InfoComm 2017, creative professionals were met with floor-to-ceiling TV screens, smoke machines, and hands-on demo areas for trying out the latest in audiovisual technology. Rows of spotlights from above followed attendees as they wound their way around booths, some wearing virtual-reality goggles or 3D glasses. Others relaxed in the show’s indoor park, sampling from the local food trucks that lined the beer garden.

“If you want to know what’s the latest technology,” said Susan Alvarez Vitale, CEO of Newtech Solutions Multimedia and InfoComm 2017 attendee, “you’re going to see it here.” Wilson Tang, FreemanXP’s vice president of digital experience, said: “A lot of other shows, they concentrate on certain technologies. InfoComm is different in that it’s all about integrating it all together in meaningful business ways. Almost every gamut in the technology space is available to you.”

McGraw attributed much of the event’s success to its host destination. “We continue to have record attendance in Orlando from business visitors coming from all over the world,” McGraw said. “It’s the best of both worlds. For us, business gets done, but there’s also quality dining and entertainment after the show.”

Why They Come

Orlando is the country’s most-visited destination, welcoming more than 68 million visitors annually. That popularity extends to attendees as well — Orlando is No.1 on Cvent’s list of the top meetings destinations in the country. And the city has become a magnet for more than tourists and delegates. It’s quickly grown into a tech hub, with a vibrant medical community and a thriving entrepreneurial scene. Worth magazine recently recognized Orlando as one of the “Most Dynamic Cities in America,” owing to its thriving business culture and tech scene.

The city plays host to 40 percent of the top 50 largest medical meetings in the country. A big draw for these events is the 650-acre Lake Nona Medical City, a complex in southeast Orlando that is a collaborative hub for technology and life sciences. More than 100 companies headquartered in Orlando, including Lockheed Martin, provide simulation, training, and augmented-reality research for military and commercial projects, making the city the simulation capital of the world.

Orlando is also home to BRIDG (Bridging the Innovation Development Gap), formerly known as the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research. Considered “the world’s first industry-led smart sensor consortium,” according to its website, BRIDG is set to lead the market in the development of smart devices.

Entrepreneurs thrive in Orlando. Investors and entrepreneurs are coming to the city in record numbers, making the city 13th for startup density for all metros in the United States, according to Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. Canvs, a nonprofit complex, has set up shop downtown, housing more than 100 tech-related startups in one shared space. And these developments have not escaped Forbes magazine’s notice, which named Orlando the second-fastest growing city in the U.S.

Event organizers for companies like InfoComm, SAP, Microsoft, as well as some of the largest health-care shows like HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Annual Conference & Exhibition, and American Nurses Association Quality and Innovation Conference, keep coming back to Orlando. With its vibrant business and tech climate, its capabilities — offering the country’s second-largest convention center and 150-plus meeting hotels — and all the many other amenities and activities that have made this destination famous, it’s no surprise that Orlando rises to the top of so many lists, including those of business-event organizers.

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