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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[February 24, 2005]

Is It Just Me, Or Is It Crowded Here?

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

What is going on? This reporter’s usual experience with trade shows is that you wander into sessions and keynotes a couple minutes before they start, select one of the seats two-thirds of the way towards the back – never the absolute back, that’s for the girls who pass notes and the guys who shoot spitwads – spread out and lean back.

That ain’t happening here, campers. It might be that Midwesterners will take any excuse to hit Miami in late February, but gimme a P, gimme an A, gimme a C, gimme a K this place is packed.

Standing-room only at many of the sessions. No, this reporter doesn’t “stand” at keynotes or conferences, but folks, the Velcro’s wearing off the wrap-around leg brace. (Thank you to all you wonderful altruistic souls who’ve been giving up good seats about two-thirds of the way towards the back. Your reward in heaven shall be great.)

This reporter bumped into Rich Tehrani between sessions. After helping him up and him apologizing for spilling this reporter’s banana daiquiri (hoisted in honor of the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, every journalist’s secret hero, who shot himself this week) on my souvenir red, pink, green, orange and chartreuse Hawaiian shirt picked up for a cool ten bucks, Rich said he couldn’t believe it either.

“ Overwhelmed!” he gasped, sweeping his arms at all the standing-room only sessions. “That is the best word to describe my feeling as I walk through the conference sessions today.”

I remarked yes, attendance does seem to be brisk. “Virtually all conferences are standing room only,” Rich said. “Toshiba's David Fridley spoke in an IP PBX session that had over 150 people and at the same time there were 500 – yes, 500 resellers in the keynote room listening to a panel session I moderated on how to make money in VoIP.”

Sure, I said. Talking about making money attracts VoIP resellers the way talking about undetectable steroids attracts San Francisco Giants sluggers, how many people are we talking about here Rich? Are the bouncers checking tags up front asleep or in the bar or what?

”I don't have final numbers but it seems like around 800 people in the conferences this first day so far,” he said. “And the international attendance has been unbelievable.”

I said yeah, I’d noticed that, it seemed more like a free green card lottery than a tech expo. “We have conferees from 70 registered countries, and they’re everywhere,” Rich said. “Speakers couldn't believe how international this show has become. And the service providers. Speakers stop me in the elevator back at the hotel and say how quickly our service provider audience is growing.”

He moved on and this reporter continued shouldering his way through crowds. Dropping in on the session border controller shoot-out running simultaneously with a UNE-P to VoIP Summit this reporter found both were standing room only.

So thank you to the lady in the electric blue dress, formerly sitting two-thirds of the way towards the back for a) helping me with my crutch, and b) pretending not to notice the banana daiquiri smell.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

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