There will be a different look to the floor at the 2006 PMA convention in Orlando when it opens on Feb. 26, 2006.
For one thing, don't look for the Polaroid booth. It won't be there. For the first time in memory Polaroid will not be a participant at PMA.
A Polaroid spokesperson explained that the new Polaroid parent, Petters Consumer Brands, Minneapolis, Minnesota, which acquired Polaroid in April, "made a conscious decision to forego PMA, and show, instead, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January." At CES, Petters, the Polaroid brand licensee before the acquisition, will offer such products as televisions, DVDs, as well as digital cameras.
Polaroid has long been a major player in the passport business, providing specialty photo stores with cameras and film, resulting in a neat source of high margin profits to retailers from passport photos. How will they connect with the photo trade if there is no PMA booth? "We intend to have our people on the show floor and we will be conducting private meetings."
The firm also passed on the PMA Fall San Diego, California meeting last month but a spokesperson said at the time that the plans were to continue to participate in Orlando. Obviously, there was a change in direction.
PMA has a point system based on past convention participation that determines which manufacturers are given priority in the selection of booth space and location. Polaroid had been one of the top five on the priority list, sharing it with the likes of Fuji, Kodak, Agfa, and Canon. (That's my unofficial list, in no particular order.) In 2005, Fuji lay claim to the coveted prime space immediately to the left, upon entering the hall, with Canon on the right side, Polaroid and Agfa immediately following, and Kodak dead ahead.
Polaroid raised eyebrows at the convention last year as their booth, a large one, showed little in the way of merchandise and was sparsely manned. Many show goers used it to take a rest or as a shortcut across the aisle.
The withdrawal of a major exhibitor results in some jockeying by other firms that move up in the PMA priority list. It is understood that both Olympus and Pentax will be adding space to their display areas from previous years.
Kodak, which did not participate in the PMA Fall meeting in San Diego, will be reducing its overall space commitment in Orlando by eliminating its usual conference/meeting room setup located off the main show floor.
A spokesperson stated: "As Kodak continues to manage its digital transformation, we continue to face business realities. We have restructured the company, reduced workforce, and reapplied resources in every area of the organization. Tradeshows are no exception. All of the Kodak activity this year will take place within the Kodak booth, we will not host executive/conference suites at the back of the hall. After talking to our customers, the feedback was that the management/conference rooms were too far away from the booth, and were quite a hike. So we have consolidated our presence within our booth."
The Agfa bankruptcy creates a conundrum for both PMA and Agfa, and it remains to be seen how it will play out. PMA requires a manufacturer to sign a contract for space during the summer prior to the show. Agfa, however, is currently in bankruptcy court and its future is very much up in the air. Bing Liem, president of AgfaPhoto, USA, said he was unable to meet the PMA deadline and could not commit to a binding contract because of the bankruptcy restrictions.
At this writing, Agfa has no show space reserved and cannot make any deals until the bankruptcy trustee makes the decision on October 11 as to the future of the firm. For sure, Agfa has lost its premium space, probably to be taken over by Olympus, and if they finally do show in Orlando, it will be in a much more modest space, according to Bing.
PMA would not comment on questions regarding space at the upcoming show, referring all inquiries to individual exhibitors. According to Tom Crawford, corporate communications executive at PMA: "We can say that we are encouraged by the number of exhibitors who are fully renewed, and some who have requested more space. We are confident that all firms that supply the imaging industry will have significant presence in the PMA Trade Show. For the most part, assignments are really looking normal." ptn