Improving Clients’ Electronic Lifestyles

Once again, improving the relationship between builder, architect, designer and electronic systems contractor will be the focus of the second annual Electronic Lifestyles Expo in Las Vegas April 18-21. With the surging popularity of whole-home A/V systems, home networking and home theaters, no other event brings the four most critical elements of a successful custom home project together in one place.

Feedback from custom builders and architects was overwhelmingly positive about the first event last year, yet many improvements were made to the 2007 edition. The objective of creating elated clients and successful projects that earn acclaim and profit has not changed.

“The feedback from architects and interior designers and builders was that the event is so beneficial, and that they were unaware of the capabilities and integral role of the electrical systems contractor,” says Don Gilpin, executive director of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, the sponsoring group. “They thanked us for pulling everyone together at the EL Expo to clear up so much misinformation in the field.”

Growth of the event has been cultivated partly on its own, and partly by targeted efforts to make this 2007 event a bigger success. “We have a lot of loyalty with our alumni from last year’s event that we’re building upon. But we also have someone on CEDIA staff that’s visiting the local chapters of NAHB, AIA and ASID in the Western U.S. to invite chapters to get word out to grow on a grass-roots level,” Gilpin says.

Trade Show Added

Much of the feedback reflected a desire to see and touch the technology CEDIA installers can offer to homeowners. As a result, a product trade show has been added to the Electronic Lifestyles event list.

“This is not just another trade show. It’s not another show manufacturers have to find budget for. It was added on a needs assessment basis, created organically from the target market,” Gilpin explains. “This creates a benefit for the manufacturers, most of whom are talking directly to builders and designers anyway. We’ve created a unique event where the manufacturer and attendee can come to one place at one time and get and receive messages to multiple target markets. We’re pulling these interesting and interdependent industries together at one time.”

The trade show will be a small event with an environment where exhibitor neighbors will not feel compelled to outdo their neighbor’s display. CEDIA has kept the size of available booths to small, standard sizes: 10 ft. by 10 ft., 10 ft. by 20 ft., 20 ft. by 20 ft., 20 ft. by 30 ft. “We’re being sensitive to the fact that exhibitors have budgets. We’re looking conservatively for 75 to 100 exhibitors.”

The Main Events

The Electronic Lifestyles Expo consists of four main parts: The EL Forum that provides education and networking for the four target audiences; CEDIA University Education; Gateway Education for those new to the industry; and the product trade show.

Highlights of the EL Expo include the new trade show, as well as returning features like the industry expert panel for which CEDIA picks well-known experts in their industries to answer questions and address issues.

“I’m looking forward to seeing that expert panel again,” Gilpin says. “We also have an informal wine reception, where it was great to see networking taking place. I was seeing a great mixture of conversations going on through the different communities represented by attendees.”

Networking is not the only benefit of attending the EL Expo, Gilpin notes. The education offered formally and informally is big. “These groups work upfront on a home project. Before a home is built, we envision the custom home builder sitting around a table and planning an attack for that residence with designers and electronic systems contractors. This will happen more and more. It’s so important for custom builders and architects to learn from us, and be out in the forefront of the electronics market. If they can be educated on how to work together, it will differentiate them and create a marketing advantage.”