We can’t vouch for the company offering operators all-expenses-paid trips to San Diego to attend a Digital Signage Expo fall event. But we admit that any RH Extra reader contemplating new signs for their operation might find this opportunity attractive. In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “trust, but verify.”
Backers of the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) understand that restaurant operators will be skeptical of their offer. They spell it out this way: “Restaurant operators whose pending digital signage projects qualify may apply to attend for FREE (their emphasis). DSE will reimburse airfare, pay for hotel and all onsite education expenses, plus the educational conference. No purchase guarantees. No strings attached. Really.”
Ok, it’s free. But might this DSE trip resemble the dismal experience of being lured to a timeshare resort for a no-cost vacation that turns into virtual entrapment in a high-pressure sales environment when you get there? The DSE folks say no. Operators will be expected to participate in the event’s Industry Forum, which will take up two mornings during this four-day event. The rest of the time will be devoted to golf, “free time,” “networking” and dining events.
Here’s how it works:
“DSE’s Industry Forum Program gives restaurant operators the opportunity to meet with top-of-the-line vendors to fully vet their respective project challenges and, in most cases, come away with a variety of potential solutions and plans to enhance their projects with the latest technologies,” say the organizers.
You have to be a potential digital-sign-buying customer to participate. The online application process to prove that you are starts at http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/IndustryForums/Fall2011.aspx . The questionnaire there asks who you are, what your company’s plans for digital signage deployment in the next 12 months are and how big your budget might be.
DSE hopes to have 32 restaurant sign-buyers sign up for this event. If you’ve already issued an RFP for your signage project or committed to a vendor for it, you’re not eligible for the free trip. But if you’re ready to make a deal, the vendors at this event will accommodate you in a hurry.
“Restaurant operators who attend DSE are able to address their professional educational needs and acquire a vast portfolio of industry knowledge from the largest number of vendors of gathered in one place,” says Chris Gibbs, president of Exponation, LLC, producer of these Industry Forum events. There should be 15 vendors in all. “The Forum environment gives those who have a committed project and are ready to buy the opportunity to get the personalized one-on-one attention they need in order to make an immediate purchase decision or recommendation.”
“End-users who have attended claim their participation has minimized the time it takes to plan, analyze, research and conduct thorough due diligence,” Gibbs adds. “ It’s a savings they claim represents a minimum of four months and an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 in man-hours before expenses.”
Should you go? This event could be a big time-saver if you’re in the market for digital signs. But it could be a long four days—the fall Industry Forum runs Sept. 18-21—if you’re not. There’s no cost to apply; DSE says it will announce the host hotel in San Diego later this summer.