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CEO Kerry Gumas talks about this year's OnDemand Expo

Published on March 24, 2011

Kerry Gumas, CEO of Questex, tells Cary about some of the developments and changes to the 2011 OnDemand Expo in Washington DC.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with another Kerry, Kerry Gumas, President and CEO of Questex; welcome

Kerry Gumas: Very nice to be with you Cary.

Cary: We’re here at – I don’t know what to call it. OnDemand Info 360 Publishing Exchange, the whole kind of.

Kerry: You got then all right.

I; Yeah, and I know that you guys have been working on trying to sort of transform the show or shows into their next life and maybe you can talk just a little bit about A) how the shows is turning out for you; it’s the second day, usually the busiest day and this year and what are you doing to kind of change it for next year.

Kerry: Sure well I think first of all I think the show itself has been quite a success in terms of the objectives from an audience and a participation standpoint. But over the course of the last year we’ve made some fairly ambitious moves to make some changes primarily to the content program that was presented here and also as you know you’re a long time visitor to OnDemand, we’ve also over multiple year time period we’ve been working on the integration as various shows are either co-located or come in and out, you know, and trying to have that make a more valuable experience from an attendee prospective. So I think our focus this year was content educational program and to reposition that and based on some research get that tied to where the market was headed, number one. And then number two, on the show for itself, to work with the companies that are here on various education information programs that they’re executing in and around the show to make that a more valuable experiene from a marketing prospective for them.

Cary: And we’re here of course in the nation’s capital, how has that worked out for you?

Kerry: Right well I think first of all the weather is fantastic you know here in Washington so.

Cary: And cherry blossoms.

Kerry: Exactly so you can’t beat cherry blossoms Washington in the spring. We traditionally you know our show has been in the first quarter and for anybody who’s lived here in the Northeast long enough you know that the first quarter can be quite delicate in terms of weather. Anyway, so no we’re extremely excited that the venue I think here in Washington, the Washington Convention Center which is a relatively new venue, is from a physical standpoint it’s a great place in which to hold events like this. And I think the demographics of this marketplace, the Washington marketplace which was one of the factors that led us to complete the cycle of going up and down the East Coast,, that was something we were trying to tap into to make sure we were capturing the government marketplace and some of the technology and demographics you have here in DC. And I think so far it’s day two but as of day two I think the results have been quite satisfactory 

Cary: And of course new is publishing exchange and to me that’s kind of the most exciting. Of course, David Swang is marvelous; we all love and admire. He’s very bright and it sort of made me think about the good old days of the old days of Explorer, the old days of Seybold where it was really a mixed community of folks from marketing from agencies from publishing and from printing. And so do you see that becoming more core to what you do in the future?

Kerry: Well in fact that’s what’s been driving our strategy for really pretty much the last seven or eight y ears since the time that we acquired the Aim show and ultimately engineered the co-location with OnDemand. Seybold was actually still in its last days in the marketplace at that point in time and then I believe disappeared somewhere around that timeframe of ’03, ’04. But the need that we see in the marketplace is really all about the application of technology to the business of publishing, the business of printing, the business of marketing and to create a large scale educational platform where you can speak to those different constituencies but also speak to them at the same time where it’s appropriate to do that and it’s very much been a driver. And so we feel like we’ve brought together a brain trust that includes David bringing that experience from Seybold into the community. I think if you remain the same for too long you lose your relevance in the marketplace and it’s no secret that had we conducted OnDemand in exactly the same way that we’ve done year after year after year, and continue to do that, that it would have lost all relevance. So you know from our point of view you have a choice to make. You can look at that situation and say well maybe we should stop doing OnDemand or you do what typically happens with brands that are well established. You look for ways to add value and you add relevancy to the brand. So that was really our whole thought process in bringing thought leadership together and then through that thought leadership bringing new educational programs and information programs into the event.

Cary: Well we’ll look forward to seeing the numbers when they come out.

Kerry: Yep, I look very much forward to that as well.

Cary: I’m sure you will too.

Kerry: Yep, that’s right.

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