June 30, 2022 - It started as an idea hatched a couple of years ago by Senior Director of Marketing for Crestron Europe Philip Sempels and his team: a "trade show stand on wheels," a rolling Crestron display in an expandable truck that would travel across Europe and the UK. As Sempels explained right before the tour began, "It would act as a temporary showroom, and dealers could make an event out of it with their end-users." That idea came to fruition this year, and the inaugural Crestron NEXT Road Trip Europe began in March. After visiting 38 stops in 19 countries, the "tour bus" is now in park mode.
So how did it go?
We put that question (among others) to some of the Crestron regional sales directors who, together with their regional/country teams, welcomed the truck, met with customers and end-users, and handled on-site organization at the various stops:
What did we learn – what were the big takeaways?
Serge Philippo: Simply put, it was a great idea and concept, and customers definitely would like to see the truck with the latest Crestron technology again.
Stein Ramsli: It was a great way to interact with partners and end-users at a more controlled pace. It was easier to answer deeper questions in that setting compared to, say, ISE. We got better quality time to explain and sell the concepts behind the technology.
Alain Solomon: In a nutshell, it was great to connect with those who couldn't make it to ISE due to COVID or any other issues.
What was the reaction like from dealers and end-users?
Mark Bultinck: What fascinated me was that although our dealers know our equipment very well, most of them still learned something new while going through the truck. I also saw that many technicians and project managers, who normally do not get the chance to visit ISE, enjoyed the possibility of having a close look and getting an update on our equipment.
Philippo: No other manufacturer has ever done this before. People were delighted to see the Crestron solutions and sales team in their own territory, so close to their doorstep — especially after two years of lockdowns.
What worked really well?
Bultinck: Having an hourly timeslot for a tour in the truck was terrific, and having some of our partners (such as Shure and Netgear) doing presentations was an excellent aspect of the stops.
Ramsli: The rig itself worked brilliantly.
Solomon: I'll echo what Stein Ramsli said. The integration in the truck was very well thought out and a very clean installation. The concept of getting closer to customers is great!
Is this better than a trade show, or just different?
Bultinck: It's different — my team believes we should do both as not all people can visit ISE in Barcelona, even without a pandemic. I personally think it would be a good idea to schedule the road trip after Barcelona to share the innovations of ISE with a broader audience.
Philippo: It's definitely different, as we can spend more time with our customers and end-users explaining our solutions in more detail compared to the ISE show meetings. As Mark says, when ISE moves back to early February, it would be great to do a follow-up road show in the territories to let our partners invite the end-users showing them the latest technologies and products.
Vice President and General Manager of Crestron Europe Annelies Kampert also got feedback during the length of the tour. Her takeaway: "This was a great initiative that shows that we remain creative and innovative even during challenging times such as the COVID pandemic. We found options to bring our technology to our customers and dealers — even though we didn't know if ISE would take place in full capacity when the tour began. It gave us the opportunity to connect in person and in smaller groups and offered the possibility for many customers to see our products and engage in longer, focused meetings."
And Kampert was especially impressed with the work that went on behind the scenes. "It was an amazing initiative from our European marketing and tradeshow team that put all the right effort and manpower behind the project to make this a successful ‘trade show on wheels,'" she says.
"It definitely gave ideas for the future on how to continue to bring our technology to our customers, using new methods and creative ways to show the innovation that continues to fuel us."