April 12, 2022 - Several weeks after its debut, the Crestron NEXT EMEA Road Trip is quite literally rolling along. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Belgium (with Crestron CEO Dan Feldstein presiding, as seen in the video below), the mobile display has seen stops in Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.
From Madrid to Geneva, the 16-week tour is taking a truckload of hybrid work solutions to venues across Europe — usually sports arenas, which have both the parking infrastructure and public transit accessibility needed for the stops. The mobile approach gives Crestron reps, dealers, consultants, and even end-users the chance to see one another — and the tech — in person. The vibe's summed up nicely in this piece from Installation International:
Evidently two years of virtual meetings and cat-related interruptions left the Crestron team craving face-to-face interaction, a chance to meet their customers, integrators and end-users in real life. "There's something you can't quite replicate about in-person," concurs Brad Hintze, EVP of global marketing. ... "We think the hybrid solution is the way to go. Because we miss the interaction," says Annelies Kampert, general manager of Crestron Europe.
The coverage has been truly global, with articles such as this one from Spanish outlet ISP Integracion to a recap from UK publication Technology Record. But the most important reviews have come from the attendees, and the reaction to this "trade show stand on wheels" concept has been universally positive.
It's easy to see why — the truck is something of a marvel:
An on-the-road display solution ultimately makes the tech available to the broadest possible audience, as Guy Campos noted in his conversation with Feldstein and Hintze from AV Magazine:
This is a big shift in how this type of technology was marketed previously. "In yesteryear, it was easier to say, ‘Here's the spec sheet; here's the speeds and feeds,' because you're only talking to the dealer and then the dealer delivers that to the end customer," says Hintze. "Our end customers today, whether they be government, universities or enterprises, want a relationship with the whole of the ecosystem."
Enterprise customers who are having to change the way they work and who are actively looking at the technologies that Crestron offers, still only have a limited amount of time. So taking the technology out to them on a road trip can be helpful, says Feldstein. "The more efficiently we make use of their time, the more likely they are to give it to us," he says.
Crestron's Technical Solutions Director (Alliances EMEA) Neil Fluester notes that there's a universal reaction to the truck. "It's bigger in real life than they thought it'd be," he laughs. "It's like the TARDIS from the UK TV show Dr. Who — the space seems to expand once you enter the display."
Fluester and the rest of the Crestron team were happy to see the mix of attendees as the truck made stops in Belgium and France — and that includes Crestron's partners and sponsors: "Representatives from Phillips, NETGEAR, Jabra were in attendance, among others — it's good to see everyone again." There's definitely more than a bit of excitement over the chance to simply interact with a trade-show-style display after two years of pandemic protocols. "There's been quite the buzz at all the stops I've been to," he notes.
"The regional differences are something, too," says Fluester. "I certainly enjoyed the two-hour break the Parisians gave us while they were off for lunch!"