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In-person PLASA creates positivity and connection at London Olympia

In-person PLASA creates positivity and connection at London Olympia
PLASA MD Peter Heath: "the exhibitors have been incredible"

In-person PLASA creates positivity and connection at London Olympia

Caroline Moss reports from day two of PLASA 2021

United Kingdom:

Day two of PLASA got off to a quiet start, building throughout the day to a packed show floor and segueing into evening drinks at the PLASA bar, where Martin Audio managing director Dom Harter treated the crowd to an eclectic DJ set. We caught up with PLASA MD Peter Heath earlier in the day, who was dashing between a #WeMakeEvents panel onstage and preparing for the PLASA Awards for Innovation.

“It’s been really difficult because we haven’t been able to have any tradeshows or events for 18 months, and up until the beginning of July it was still ‘are we aren’t we’, depending on government advice,” he said. “So we’ve managed to put on a show in eight weeks that would normally we’d be planning and prepping for about 10 months. Like any other company we’ve got staff on furlough and reduced working time, so everyone piled in to make sure we put on a good show. But what we have to acknowledge is the exhibitors who’ve been incredible, because they’ve been challenged when it comes to finances and resources as much as we have. But they’ve put it on and made it look like this. It’s given everyone hope in the sense that it looks like a normal show. They want to support PLASA and they want to support the show.”

L to R: OutBoard's Robin Whittaker, Dave Haydon and Glen Ward
L to R: OutBoard's Robin Whittaker, Dave Haydon and Glen Ward

And that was exactly what OutBoard Electronics had in mind when booking its slot. “We came to the show with no real preconceptions; we just wanted to show that we’re still around, and celebrate the fact that things are waking up, and it’s already better than we anticipated,” said director Dave Haydon. 

At Nexo, which was hosting the official launch of the ePS series of cost-effective installation speakers, sales and marketing director Gareth Collyer was reporting a spate of messages from European distributors requesting photos and feedback from the first tradeshow in more than 18 months. “Being back at a tradeshow is absolutely brilliant,” he said. “It’s not only positive for the UK market, which desperately needed it, it also sends a message globally. I was a big supporter of Peter and the guys getting this going, I’m really glad they did; it’s a great place for meeting people in-person and pressing the flesh.”

Nexo's Gareth Collyer with the new ePS Series
Nexo's Gareth Collyer with the new ePS Series

Avolites was also launching a new product, the Diamond 9 lighting console. “It’s hard to find the words to say how good it feels to be back at a tradeshow because I’ve been at every one of these since 1988. I’ve really missed seeing all our friends,” said director, Steve Warren. “It’s been a long break away from them, and here they all are, coming through the door; it’s really joyous. There was never any doubt that we wouldn’t be here. The industry is back and we’ve been waiting for this. Zoom has been great, but we’ve had enough of Zoom, and we want to see people face-to-face, and we’ve had chance to show a new product that nobody’s seen before. There’s definitely been a lot of focus on keeping everyone safe. People want to come here, but they are also very aware that if they catch something they won’t be able to work, so the ‘mask-friendly’ policy has been a good one. From a business perspective, at the worse point, our business dropped down to 20% of where we should have been, and we are now about three-a-half times that. We should be back to where we were by the end of the year.”

L-Acoustics' Mary-Beth Henson with the newly launched SB10i subwoofer
L-Acoustics' Mary-Beth Henson with the newly launched SB10i subwoofer

L-Acoustics’ head of communications, Mary-Beth Henson, was relishing the opportunity to catch up with people for the first time since ISE 2020. “There are lots of people here and it’s good to be back,” she said. “I remember hoping last year that PLASA would be the first one back and realising that it wasn’t going to happen, so it feels fitting that PLASA now is the first one back. Most visitors have been from the UK, though we just hosted some people from English-speaking Africa. And having to show proof of Covid status on the way in gives you a measure of comfort.” L-Acoustics was hosting the launch of the super-compact SB10i installation subwoofer and K3 long-throw line source speaker on the booth.

With a busy seminar and training programme, the Innovation Awards and numerous product launches from companies including the aforementioned Nexo, L-Acoustics and Avolites as well as Astera, d&b audiotechnik, Allen & Heath, EM Acoustics, Shure, Sennheiser, DiGiCo and more, it really did feel like the tradeshow is back. The respite from the misery and frustration of the past 18 months created a positivity that filled London Olympia with the sense that change is finally underway.

Artist Shan Ako takes to the PLASA and #WeMakeEvents stage
Artist Shan Ako takes to the PLASA and #WeMakeEvents stage


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