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June 06, 2007

Missed Scuba Show 2007!

Scuba Show 2007 took place June 2nd and 3rd at the Long Beach Convention Center in the Los Angeles area. I really wanted to go. Even in this day and age of the web with its instant information delivery, trade shows are still special. You get to see and touch stuff, meet people, ask questions, collect brochures and just generally immerse yourself in the conference experience. It isn't always pretty. It costs a lot to get to a show, stay in some hotel, get to the show, find your way around, and then glean as much useful information as possible. Sometimes it's deadly. I used to attend 10 to 12 technology shows a year when I was still doing the print magazines. I have plenty of memories of getting stuck in airports, fighting with hotels who always seem to find an excuse to jack up rates because "we have several major shows in town this week." Always waiting for a cab, waiting to get in, waiting for lunch, and then waiting to get a cab or bus back to the hotel. That seems to take up much of the day. And yet, I mostly remember the good stuff. Those moments when I saw a brand-now, exciting product, met enlightened people, took copious notes and hundreds of pictures, attended (and sometimes presented at) seminars and, of course, made all the press parties. Yes, it was possible to spend an entire week in Las Vegas for, say, Comdex, and not spend a single cent on food or drink. That's what press rooms and press parties were for.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've attended a big show. These days the big 24-inch wide screen of my iMac is the show. It's Information Central where the news arrives from all over the world, in an instant; where I gather and compile data, blogs, specs and press releases; where I scan image libraries, weed out chaff, process pictures, write stories. I get as much, or more, relevant news and it's a lot cheaper this way. Traveling isn't fun anymore what with all the security check hassles at airports and all the lost luggage.

Still, I had missed DEMA in Orlando last Fall, and I really wanted to make Scuba Show 2007. Long Beach is just a six or seven hour car ride from my home in Sacramento. I knew I wouldn't have the time to go down there, leisurly attend the whole conference including seminars and parties (some day I will!), but at least drive down, take in as much of the exhibits as I could in six hours or so, then head on back, perhaps crash in a cheap roadside motel if I got tired.

I really wanted to go, but work got in the way. Several major projects needed to be finished and so it came down to the wire. I would have to leave very early in the morning Saturday to make the exhibits which were open from 10am to 6pm. Friday night came and work wasn't done, but I was close. Got up very early Saturday morning, checked email, then had to make the decision (yes, I make decisions the very last moment).

So I decided to look at the Scuba Show brochure and see who exhibited. 11 scuba gear manufacturers, but only two or three of the majors. Oceanic and Aeris were there, but not Scubapro. 19 exhibitors in underwater photo and imaging. That sounded interesting, especially since my friends at Olympus were there, and we often review their underwater gear. 14 local dive shops. 17 non-profits engaged in some sort of worthwhile diving related causes. 15 presented some sort of instruments or technical and special gear. Seven sold books, magazines or were scuba websites. Ten did apparel, from T-shirts to drysuits. Two sold dive insurance. Ten had various accessories. Another ten seemed unrelated to the industry. Now for the big one: almost 90 were travel related. That included trips, dive resorts, tourist chambers, live-aboards hotels, agents. Bottomline: Almost half of the exhibitors at Scuba Show 2007 were dive tours, hotels, or resorts. Add the local shops, and it was more than half.

A great mix, for sure, but in the end one that tipped the scale towards not going. I love dive trips and plan on going on many. I support local shops. And I most definitely love gadgets and accessories and all. But with just a very few of the actual Scuba gear manufacturers being there and showing their new stuff, I could not justify it. I know it would have been fun. I'd probably have spent most of my time at just a few booths, taken lots of pictures, picked up lots of catalogs and brochures. I'd have been awfully tempted to go on a trip and perhaps someone would have talked me into signing up for one. Or three. I probably would have spent money on some gear, bought a new mask or fins or maybe an underwater camera housing. I would have cursed myself for not allocating more time and resolved then and there to do it right next time. I'd arrive the day before. Attend seminars. Mingle, learn. See all exhibits. Attend the parties. Stay for the entire event.

So I didn't go and missed out on an adventure. Driving 12 or 14 hours to and from and seeing a show is an adventure. Our ScubaDiverInfo.com and its rapidly growing number of site visitors would have benefitted as I would have put up a major Scuba Show 2007 report. As is, there is essentially no press coverage. Four days after the show, Google News shows nothing on "Scuba Show 2007." My bad. I should have gone. It's what I do. Scoop out cool new stuff, learn about it, use it, write about it, tell others in my magazines (in the past) and on my websites.

Next time for sure. I WILL go to DEMA this year, and Scuba Show next year!

Posted by conradb212 at June 6, 2007 11:13 PM