I went to my first PCBC in 1990. It's been a long love affair attending the show for a decade as a customer and thereafter working as an exhibitor.
Now an independent freelance writer and blogger, I needn't report that the scale of the PCBC is significantly smaller than at its peak in the mid-2000s. By all accounts it's less than one third the size. This year as a press member, I was able to speak to a variety of attendees to get their viewpoints on the viability of this conference. Here's what I observed and learned:
From overflowing all three halls a few years ago, this years total exhibit space did not even fill the North Hall of the Moscone Center. In past years GE had one of the largest booths of the PCBC at the front entrance to the show. This year they had a very small 10X20 booth in the back, displaying only 1 refrigerator and 1 water heater. GE was the only major appliance brand exhibiting. Other large exhibitors in past years, Whirlpool and Kohler, had no exhibits whatsoever as if they were boycotting rather than have a token presence.
I interviewed some of the speakers at the conference. One confessed that during the two days of the conference she had not even wandered into the exhibit area. My personal observation was that the “quality” of the attendees at the conference was very high. When you have the leaders of Meritage, KB, Pulte, and Taylor-Morrison in a panel discussion, it's fairly impressive. Moreover, the forum itself was very well done with top-notch speakers and worthwhile educational workshops.
It's almost as if there were two shows – one for exhibitors and one for those there to attend the workshops, and hear the speakers. My thoughts are that for this show to work in the future the planners need to make it more meaningful to the exhibitors. It's more than just bringing the numbers up.
Next year, the show moves to San Diego, and thereafter alternates between San Francisco and San Diego. Let's all hope that PCBC can make this work. It's been great for our industry for many years.