Networking and face-to-face meetings are the lifeblood of the channel. Meetings are done, deals are signed and drinking, chatting and golf are all part and parcel of everyday business.
But for many resellers there is always the conundrum and Catch-22 situation of wanting to get out to do meetings, sign deals and get new business into the company, with staying in the office to actually run the business and sell. Not only that, but in reality, how many smaller VARs actually get time in front of their key vendors to discuss their relationship, ask for support and generally have the opportuntity to leave feedback?
It is for these reasons that CRN is the leading supporter of Channel Expo – the UK’s only channel exhibition. Run by CRN’s publisher, VNU Business Publications, Channel Expo combines the Computer Trade Show, Comms Channel Expo, Technology Retailer Show and Office Technology Expo to provide channel players with the perfect environment to do business, network and find out the latest developments.
This year is the 10th in which the show has been running, not bad when you consider what has happened to its US counterpart, Comdex.
However, this year it is a show with a difference. It has been fully revamped and restructured to ensure that attendees and exhibitors get the best from the time they spend there.
The dates – previously the show was usually held in May – have been bought forward to coincide with the end of CeBit, which runs in Germany from 15 to 21 March. This is to ensure that firms travelling over from the Far East or the US can fully utilise their time in Europe and attend both shows.
Karin Jones, sales and marketing director at distributor VIP, said: “The Channel Expo – formerly known as the CTS – has a long history of being the UK’s number one channel event and a major focus point in the industry’s calendar.
“Trade shows such as this provide a vital platform for companies to launch products and services, but also for people to come together to discuss new business opportunities and build on relationships. While the large European trade shows typically attract much larger visitor numbers, the value of CTS has always been its tight focus on the UK channel, which would suffer if it were to lose the event.”
Jon Atherton, group vice-president – commercial at distributor Enta Technologies, said: “We have found Channel Expo as the ideal meeting place to discuss new products, highlight our portfolio and engage with our customers because this is now the only true component/reseller focused event of the year.
“The business opportunities available to anyone who exhibits can be enormous. I recommend that anyone who is thinking about exhibiting at the show discuss their requirements, wants and needs as we have done.”
However, the show will not simply be about vendors and distributors showcasing their wares. It will also feature the CRN Networking Forum, which will host key executives from the major channel vendors. VARs will have the opportunity to sit down with the executives in breakout rooms, and smaller round table sessions. The aim is that VARs who may not normally get the ear of the channel head at their major vendor will now be able to chat in small groups to give and receive feedback from them. It is an opportunity to share ideas, suggestions and any business plans with the vendor.
Marieke Visser, associate publisher, channel at VNU, said the aim was to provide a platform where resellers would have quality time with vendors and help to bring the channel community closer together.
“The breakout sessions will be similar to small round tables,” she said. “We want to give smaller resellers a chance to catch up with their vendors, and also provide a platform where vendors can speak to resellers they would not normally be able to reach.”
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