Celebrating its 10th anniversary at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Plasa Focus has firmly established itself as bespoke regional entertainment technology trade show. Ironically, the annual momentum it has experienced over that time span contrasts with the declining value of the main event in London. The unique 2-day forum has won many admirers over the past decade.
Orbital Sound dedicates itself as a specialist hire, sales and installation service company, particularly in the theatre business. Exhibiting a number of products on its shell scheme booth including the Nemesis show control hardware and DPA Core microphones, sales director Andy Simmons commented on the merits of Plasa Focus. ‘It’s a central location in the UK and so you tend to meet all sorts of different customers here in Leeds from all around the country. It’s small, intimate and we have met theatre owners looking to upgrade their audio systems from London to Newcastle. It’s interesting to note that you see brands such as Bose, Sennheiser and Shure exhibiting here, yet you won’t see them at the main Plasa event in London.’
Adam Hall sales director Johan Gunsing had travelled from the Netherlands to attend the event. ‘We’re showing many new products from LD Systems including the P900, Curv500 and Maui GO5 speaker systems and Cameo W600 wash and B60 battery powered lights. We’re meeting a good mixture of dealers, rental companies and installers here at the show and so I have to say it appears to be a good ROI.’
‘RCF UK has been exhibiting at Plasa Focus since 2009 and despite a dip in attendance one year, we continue to see more people coming each year,’ confirmed sales director Dean Davoile. ‘It’s appealing for the exhibitors as it’s a simple set up and load out and two days is just about right.’
Mr Davoile explained the rationale on why RCF UK was exhibiting the new Evox J.Mix8 portable speakers in addition to the HDL6a and HDL30 line array systems. ‘This is a networking show really attracting technicians and theatre operators, so we decided to display our professional products this year. However, we do meet some installers so we’re highlighting some of our contractor range including the AM1125, UP2521 and ES3080.’
Fellow Italian manufacturer FBT has been attending the show for the past six years and welcomed meeting up with old and new customers. Showcasing the Shadow IP55 weatherproof speakers, DLM26 processor, Muse and Mitus line array and the portable J-series portable cabinets, sales manager Robert Griffiths was enthusiastic with this year’s event. ‘You get to speak people you probably wouldn’t get a chance to meet otherwise.’
In line with larger international trade shows such as ISE and Prolight + Sound Frankfurt, Yamaha and Nexo jointly promoted their brands from an advantageous location at the front of the hall. Out of the halls, KV2 Audio demonstrated several of its loudspeaker systems in the adjacent Holiday Inn Express suite. Meanwhile, d&b audiotechnik simply promoted its DS10 immersive technology and EV opted to entice a less selective audience with the Evolve 50, Evid-S and X Two systems. Other notable loudspeakers on display included the new compact EMS-41 cabinet on the EM Acoustics booth, HH Electronics’ line-up of powered TNE 2-way systems, and a dBTechnologies Vio L210 system alongside Outline Audio products on the CUK booth.
A selection of digital consoles was also on display - Adlib demonstrated DiGiCo Quantum 7 technology, Cadac premiered its new CDC five console and Sound Technology rolled out the Soundcraft Vi1000 board on its booth adjacent to the new JBL VTX A12 line array.
JBL also participated along with Soundcraft in the busy seminar and training programme with other manufacturers. Taking place in four venues adjacent to the exhibition hall of the Royal Armouries Museum, lighting console training, health & safety and an immersive technologies panel discussion were just some of the free-to-attend programmes that enticed visitors to leave Leeds with something other than brochures, quotes and bags.
The significance of Plasa Focus cannot be underestimated as it proves that trade shows definitely still have their place in the online age of social media. The 2-day format allows exhibitors to network with customers without having to worry about setting up and assembling large displays that come at a huge cost in terms of time and expenditure. Being located some 200 miles north of London also has its benefits, such as driving into Leeds, where parking, hotel and entertainment costs are significantly less.
Parallels can be drawn between Plasa Focus and the NSCA in the USA that used to visit different cities allowing exhibitors a basic 5m x 3m booth. Although the majority of today’s ambitious exhibition organsiers may frown at such a format, it appeals to both exhibitors and visitors alike. Small in size, Plasa Focus packs a punch – less is definitely more.