Wavelength Tech Forum: Pittcon 2007

March 29, 2007

This month's Technology Forum looks at the topic of Pittcon 2007 and the trends and issues surrounding it. Joining us for this discussion are Chris Petty, with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Jim Yano, with Aspectrics, and Don Kuehl, with Cerno Bioscience.

This month's Technology Forum looks at the topic of Pittcon and the trends and issues surrounding it. Joining us for this discussion are Chris Petty, with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Jim Yano, with Aspectrics, and Don Kuehl, with Cerno Bioscience.

What were your overall impressions of Pittcon 2007?

(Petty) The show went well; some of the trends toward lower conferee attendance over the last few years were healthier at the 2007 event. On a personal note several attendees noted to me that my company's booth was a strong and striking presence – that was pretty gratifying after all the work that went into it and it seems like customers are seeing the benefits of my company's leadership at events like this. These days it is tougher as a consumer to separate the real industry leaders from smaller players with impressive websites – Pittcon is the kind of event that helps people understand that breadth of services and products that are important to them.

(Yano) Pittcon continues to take on a more life science focus. The large analytical instrument companies continue to showcase new and improved analytical instruments as well as software related products to address the challenges of the life science industry. This trend seems to pull in many other high technology software companies to address the high sample processing requirements of this industry.

(Kuehl) Pittcon seemed pretty solid this year, more so than in years past. I believe a lot of this has to do with the location.

What were your feelings on this year's Chicago location? Was it an improvement over last year's Orlando location?

(Petty) Typically I feel the local industry around venues like Chicago, New York, and to a lesser extent Atlanta, attract a lot of spectroscopists who can come in to the show easily but wouldn’t otherwise travel across the country to be there. Dealing with Chicago at the end of February certainly has some downsides over warmer climes, but that is more than made up for by the fact that you know those who are there aren’t distracted.

(Yano) Orlando tends to draw a crowd that spends considerable time touring the local attractions in place of spending additional time at the conference. The attendees that visited our booth this year in Chicago spent more time discussing our technology, their applications and their analytical challenges. In contrast, attendees seemed to spend less time during Pittcon 2006 in Orlando.

(Kuehl) While Orlando may attract people, I believe it is for the wrong reasons. People go to Orlando and many bring family, so they attend a few talks, walk the floor a bit, and then they hightail it out to the nice weather. If you stand in the exhibition hall in Orlando, you will feel it as somewhat empty. Chicago, on the other hand, has a captive audience. People that are there are there all the time, partly because of the difficulty of easily getting out of the exhibition due to it’s location. On the downside, is the unpredictable weather in Chicago, as we saw. From a vendor viewpoint, despite this drawback, it is a better show in Chicago.

What were your thoughts on the sessions, posters, short courses, and conferences?

(Petty) These sessions were pretty effective in 2007.

(Yano) I felt that the sessions were well organized and had the necessary audio/video aides. As a presenter this is very important. As a participant I felt the organizers and session chairs did a good job keeping to the schedule. I did feel that the signs directing individuals to the various sessions were somewhat confusing.

(Kuehl) I only attended a limited set of sessions. The attendance seemed decent but not great. As is typical for Pittcon, some were quite good, and some were very weak.

What improvements would you suggest for Pittcon 2008 in New Orleans?

(Petty) More upfront publicity by the PittCon organization to make sure people know about and plan to attend Pittcon as part of their general work year.

(Yano) New Orleans should draw a large crowd due to the warm location. However, in order to improve the Pittcon 2008 experience, the organizers should consider an evening activity to a local tourist attraction. I think that activities like this tend to engage individuals in a less formal atmosphere resulting in a memorable experience. Years ago the organizers did this in Orlando with a trip to Disney. I still recall that event and the people I spent the evening with.

(Kuehl) I think being in New Orleans will be an improvement over both Orlando (least favorite) and Chicago. I would like to see continued vendor support by the committee to bring people into the exhibit halls, like mixers and socials at the end of the day. I would also like to see higher quality papers, many are rehashes given by the same people every year. Some new blood and innovation would be great. Perhaps reach out to some “new” people to coordinate oral sessions.

What do you think?

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