ZD Events to rethink Comdex conference options

Networld+Interop and Comdex organisers Ziff-Davis Events may consider consolidating the show's separate conferences into one event next year.

Disappointing attendee numbers for the Comdex conference raised concerns with organisers, presenters and exhibitors.

"Next year we will look very hard at consolidation," said Rob Irving, ZD Events' director of marketing.

The Comdex conference was relaunched in Australia this week alongside N+I and the Comdex exhibition. N+I and Comdex is an "all-in-one" trade show with two separate conference arms.

There was a lot of confusion surrounding the conferences, Irving said.

"It would make sense to [consolidate]," he said.

Irving said 14,052 people attended the combined N+I and Comdex exhibitions. He said that was a 15 per cent increase on last year's attendance, which did not include the Comdex show.

Irving said an estimated 300 people attended educational sessions at N+I's associated conference, but could not provide attendance numbers for the Comdex conference.

Irving admitted ZD Events "bit off more than [they] could chew" by combining both events, but said that was part of the reason for outsourcing the design and organisation of the Comdex conference to the Internet Institute.

Meanwhile, Alan Power, executive director of the Internet Institute, said the short lead time for the event was a main reason for the low turnout.

"The number of conference attendees wasn't what we'd like it to be," he said.

"There wasn't a lot of time to organise and design the conference."

ZD Events announced its plans to present Comdex just prior to mid-year, Power said.

According to Power, 70 people attended day one of the Comdex conference, 40 people attended Thursday's sessions and 85 were expected to turn up for today's presentations.

Power suggested the conference may have been more successful had it been more clearly differentiated from the N+I conference, also held this week.

"From our point of view, the conferences should have been more sharply differentiated . . . they were [different] in content, but in terms of promotion . . . the brochures looked similar," he said.

While Power said the Internet Institute would be happy to organise the conference next year, Irving declined to comment on whether ZD Events would outsource the event to the Institute.

Networld+Interop and Comdex will held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition centre from October 24-October 26, 2000.