Why Crestron Stopped Exhibiting at CEDIA – The Facts and My Opinion of the Impact on CEDIA

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Update: So, now there’s no more guessing as to why Crestron pulled out of CEDIA as I literally got the one (and only) interview with Crestron President and CEO Randy Klein, who spends 10 minutes outlining exactly how the decision was made and why. Watch the interview here.

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding Crestron’s announcement to pull out of exhibiting at CEDIA. Oh, I guess if you hadn’t heard that, yes, they have decided not to go to CEDIA any more.

Crestron’s been one of the largest exhibitors at CEDIA for over 10 years and has actually had one of the largest three booths at CEDIA for seven of those 10 years. In addition, they’ve held a giant party, a plethora of educational sessions and even a private suite where they’d launched new products. So, suffice it to say, they’ve been one of the companies that has spent the most money at the annual high-end residential AV show.

crestron-pinpoint-1115But, last week, via CEPro, Crestron made it public that they’ve decided to no longer exhibit at CEDIA.

So, why?

I reached out to them last week and here’s what they said: “As a market leader, we are [still] focused and committed to the luxury residential market, and are significantly increasing our investments in this key area of our business.”

Shows are expensive to do, as you can imagine.

So, why not support the show in another way? Here’s what they told me (word-for-word): “We’ve elected not to participate in the 2016 CEDIA Future Home Experience because our strategies are not the same as those exhibited by the association today. Instead, we are increasing the number of marketing and other events in North America.”

Crestron also sent me a statement that they feel that CEDIA, “caters to the entire residential market (from DIY and production homes all the way up to the luxury space). Over the past few years at CEDIA, we have observed a greater shift of exhibitors and messaging towards the entry level side. This year we have a laser beam focus on the luxury market and want to concentrate our efforts on activities that speak more discernibly to the high end. For example, we are presenting at the Luxury Portfolio International SUMMIT for leading real estate companies later this month in Miami and we are exhibiting at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in NYC from March 17-20th.”

That means they don’t seem to like the direction that CEDIA is headed.

Crestron did go out of their way to tell me that it’s still a CEDIA member and will continue to support the organization’s activities around industry education and certification. And, they even went as far as to say that “exhibiting at the association’s annual event may fit into our plans sometime in the future.”

So, there’s a possibility they will come back.

dcota-0216And, they’ve decided to spend their money on a new showroom plan. Here’s what they said about that: “We’re excited to announce the opening of our showroom in the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Florida. This multimillion-dollar facility is the ninth location of its kind to showcase the Crestron experience. We have appointed a residential executive team to include industry veteran, Ami Wright, as director of residential programs. Ami will be joined by a new VP of residential systems to be revealed soon.”

And, to reassure residential integrators, Crestron told me they invested in a new development lab at Crestron’s Rockleigh, NJ campus. They say it’s staffed with 10 full-time engineers dedicated to making new residential AV products.

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I’ve been to 22 straight CEDIA shows. I love them. I have both a personal and professional interest in CEDIA.

That said, I completely concur with Crestron’s observations — the show does have more DIY’ers than ever before. And, the show’s no longer exclusively a high-end show. It’s far from a CES, but it does have a lot of consumer-based technology there. And, Crestron wants to stay integrator-focused.

Despite what many may think, Crestron isn’t a brand that’s aiming to be a household name. Sure, everyone loves the marketing value of that — a name that rolls off everyone’s tongue. But, that doesn’t do you anything unless you’re selling to them — the consumers. And, in the high-end residential market, the consumer doesn’t drive the sale, nor should he (or she).

Integrators have the historical knowledge and expertise to design, specify and build high-end home systems. Yes, Apple builds a set-top box that you can talk to but, it can’t open the shades, it can’t adjust the lighting and it can’t monitor the security of your home. But, Crestron (and high-end integrators) can, and do.

CEDIA wants to grow. And the high-end residential market isn’t growing. it’s nowhere near what it was pre-2008 recession — far from it, in fact.

Walking around CEDIA 2015  I thought it was one of the best CEDIA’s ever — certainly the best in the last half-dozen years. Everyone was upbeat, there was more innovation than any other time this decade and the sho floor had the best attendance since. But, nearly every new exhibitor over the past five years has catered to the DIY’er. Sans Barco, Epson and Christie (with their new residential-focused offerings) the majority of new exhibitors have represented stuff like qpp-based control companies (with Apple and Android-based control), distributed audio system companies (with recessed can replacement LED lights with built-in speakers) and even home security companies are all DIY or more CES-focused than custom residential focused.

This represents a healthy reflection of an emerging market. And, truth is, most of these DIY’ers will absolutely move up — meaning they will start with app-based control and eventually want something more Savant-like, then even Control4-like and then hop on up, eventually, to a Crestron-based system. But, that said, look at what Savant launched in to the market at CEDIA — a DIY remote called the Savant Remote.

So, it totally makes sense why Crestron did this. Crestron isn’t at CEDIA to pick up more dealers — and you should be glad they aren’t. They’re there to support the dealer channel they already have — and, of course, to announce and demo new products.

And, as we all know, the web now launches products — or at least, you can pretty-much find a new product or details about a new product on the Internet. And, as for supporting their dealers, they said, specifically, they’ll do that via the aforementioned Design Center and the Architectural Digest Home Design Show AND they said they’d continue to support CEDIA’s educational initiatives.

So, if you put this all together, spending the kind of money one of the largest CEDIA exhibitors was spending, it makes sense they’d eventually consider pulling out. So, I guess this year was the year they happened to be evaluating the ROI of CEDIA and they came to the conclusion to the speed the money elsewhere.

However, they also left the door open that they’d consider returning. They didn’t set specific conditions for a return, but they pretty much made it clear that they aren’t interested in the DIY market, though.