Last week we visited Chicago and attended HostingCon 2008 as exhibitors. I want to comment a little bit around this experience. Chicago is a beautiful city, and we really enjoyed it. We accommodated downtown at the Intercontinental Hotel, next to Chicago Tribune and NBC on Michigan Avenue. We walked quite a lot, mostly in the night (too hot during the day). The town features a very inspired combination between old and new, its streets are clean and overall is hard to say anything bad about this part of the city (cannot comment about the rest).
HostingCon 2008 took place at Navy Pier, an entertainment and exhibition centre located at Lake Michigan. I think that the location and the organization was OK for the event. I didn’t like the food, but it can be just me :).
During three days, we discussed with a lot of people and we were able to get feedback from service providers and software vendors, both exhibitors and attendees. What I found quite intriguing was that the high number of exhibitors was not also matched by a high number of attendees. Most people described the event slower than the ones in the last years, and it looked like organizers focused on exhibitors and forgot about attendees. Yes, we got in touch with providers that exhibited, we were also visited by customers, and also many prospects asked us questions. From what I have been able to spot, most guys that participated as attendees were service providers. I believe this is quite unfortunate for exhibiting providers that also expected customers to be present, and here I mean the industry that buys Data Center services. I guess it’s nice to see all your competitors on the same place, it’s nice to exchange ideas on a party, but these do no pay the bills.
Possible causes for the low number of attendees would be: the period of the year chosen for this event, the large number of hosting and related events over the year, and maybe insufficient propaganda. I hope that the organizers will learn from this experience and prepare a better HostingCon 2009. BTW, next year it will be on Washington DC.