by Brendan M. Lynch | August 01, 2004


Comdex once was
the hottest trade show
ticket in Las Vegas.

How the mighty have fallen: In late June, MediaLive International canceled the 2004 Comdex technology event, scheduled to open Nov. 14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Comdex was once touted as the best-attended trade show in the United States, drawing  an estimated 200,000 attendees as recently as 2000. 
    “We could have run the show profitably this year, but it wasn’t in the best interest of the industry or the brand without the broader support of technology vendors,” said Eric Faurot, general manager of Comdex.
    The past few years have seen a drastic falloff in both exhibitors and attendees at the event, due to factors such as the dot-com bust, the drop in post-9/11 international travel and the exhibition industry’s trend toward more specialized trade shows. 
    MediaLive International Inc., San Francisco-based owner of the 25-year-old show, plans to revive Comdex by narrowing its focus to business-to-business information technology while de-emphasizing consumer trade. In a display of confidence, the company has tentatively booked Comdex 2005 at the Las Vegas Convention Center for Nov. 13-17 next year. 
    “The $915 billion IT industry needs an annual gathering, which is why we’ve built an advisory board of vendors to really help shape what this event should look like,” added Faurot.
    Despite Comdex’s difficulties, this year’s cancellation  shocked industry leaders. “It’s surprising to a lot of people for the organizer of a major show to essentially take a time out and reconsider the basic mission and direction of the event,” said Steven Hacker, president of the International Association for Exhibition Management. “I give the managers credit for some unprecedented activity here. It takes courage to say, ‘This is not business as usual, and we’re going to take some extraordinary steps.’”
    The loss of Comdex this November will not significantly lessen Las Vegas’ overall trade show revenue. “November is still a strong month here,” said a spokesperson for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Plus, Comdex signed a lease for 2004, and they have a penalty clause. We are in negotiations over that issue right now.”