The Chester Group, which earlier this year successfully resuscitated the once lively but recently moribund New York Audio Show, has announced plans to improve and expand next year’s version. First and foremost is a change of venue. In my 2012 show report, I complained about the dreadful acoustics in the overly damped hallows of the Waldorf Astoria. Meanwhile, exhibitors voiced equal frustration with the Waldorf’s disastrous logistics. (It should be simple to get your gear from shipping to your room, no?) Clearly, the organizers needed to find new digs that addressed these concerns, yet maintained the luxe ambiance that is a Chester Group trademark.
They claim to have found such a venue in the posh New York Palace, which will host the 2013 show from April 12th to the 14th. Like the Waldorf, the Palace is a 5-star property with an absolutely perfect location. Yet the Palace’s style is more contemporarily elegant than the Waldorf’s. I am optimistic that trading the Waldorf’s heavy drapery and coffered ceilings for a lighter approach will do wonders for the sound.
But location is only the first change the Chester Group is making. Another is the creation of four “zones”, or shows within the show. These will be: HeadZones, the TurntableZone, the Computer AudioZone, and the New-TechZone. Further details about the content of each zone will be released later this year.
In 2012, the show’s organizers were still assessing the potential of the New York market, so their marketing spend was on the cautious side. Having met their targets, though, wallets are now opening wider. For 2013, Chester Group is budgeting advertising and PR at level designed to bring in at least 6,000 visitors, with an additional goal that 20% of them be new to audio shows in general. The organizers are also shooting for 25% of its exhibitors to be new to the Show, and that 10% of the exhibitors be British. (Chester Group is based in the U.K.)
One thing that will not change, the organizers promise, is their commitment to top entertainment. This year, the after-hours scene, including rowdy concerts and a DJ party—played through a Burmester Audio system, no less—was a Show highlight. Also mimicking this year, the 2013 show will feature hands-on clinics. (No word yet on whether Michael Fremer will repeat his uber-popular turntable setup gigs, which drew capacity crowds.)
Despite teething pains, attendees and exhibitors alike seemed to greatly enjoy and benefit from New York Audio Show ’12. Given that, plus the new venue and aggressive marketing plans, I expect the Chester Group will succeed with their goal of making next year’s version bigger and better.