This year, ALL events - including all general sessions, a set of six vendor workshop rooms, hospitality suites, and all vendor exhibits, will be held within the confines of the San Francisco Hilton and Towers hotel.
This has a couple of effects however. First, it becomes more of an advantage to have accommodations in the hotel itself. Second, we have less vendor exhibit space available this year.
ISPCON '97 represents a singular opportunity for vendor exhibitors. The ISP market has emerged as one of the most leveraged and influential groups on the Internet. Particularly for high-ticket items such as advanced routers, ATM switches, xDSL shelves, and remote access servers, ISPs are a key element in marketing such products.
First, they purchase a good bit of equipment themselves - over $2 billion per year as it so happens. But to a large degree, they influence the purchase of an even larger market segment. They are the physical face-to-face point of contact for every business that makes a connection to the Internet. And their recommendation as to what CSU/DSU, router or switch technology, remote access server, or other networking equipment is enormously influential on the final purchase.
Increasingly, ISPs are actually selling this equipment to their customers. Infonetics Research has released a detailed study noting the ISP networking equipment market will be a $5.3 billion vendor opportunity by 1998 (http://www.infonetics.com)
Even at the more consumer level, ISPs are extremely influential over product selections. Whether it be modems, ISDN dailup adapters, or ISDN bridge/routers, the end user no longer has much interest in features, performance, or attractive package designs. These devices are no longer used to connect to various places around the country. The only question is "Will it work with MY Internet Service Provider." And the corollary question in the back of their minds is "If the setup/configuration gets difficult, can my ISP walk me through what I need to do to get it to work."
The bottom line is that approaching the Internet as a whole is very nearly an undefined marketing task. Product messages are lost at the lips in a hurricane of press releases, new product announcements, and newest, first, only, best, and most revolutionary claims. For some products, the only rational and efficient way to effectively market is by focusing on a scant 4000 influential, leveraged Internet Service Providers.
A number of very large trade shows, including Internet World, COMDEX, and others have attempted to have "ISP events" held within the larger show. In almost all cases, turnout at best has numbered in the tens of ISPs - typically 30-50. At ISPCON'96, over 900 ISPs showed up in San Francisco - including a surprising International contingent - for their OWN trade show event. And with the number of ISPs more than doubling in the past year, we would expect that number to grow substantially for ISPCON'97.
ISPCON'97 again will NOT consist of 30,000 people who think the Internet is cool and are very much in the market for a T-shirt. It does NOT support the exhibit floor traffic many vendors are accustomed to. It is essentially a closed professional meeting of Internet Service Providers who have all the T-shirts they need. What they DO need is products and information that will give them an edge - any edge - in an increasingly competitive market. Products that can help them differentiate their services, introduce value added products, better web hosting, or offer better connectivity - at lower cost. Attractive leasing options, ISP discounts, and products they can offer their customers work better than T-shirts, caps with propellers on the top, popcorn, or flashing buttons to wear on the chest at this event.
Educational sessions will be centered on the Continental Ballroom which is subdivided into nine large session rooms. Imperial Ballroom provides two very large session rooms. Franciscan provides four session rooms. These are all located on the Ballroom level.
Some vendor exhibits will be located in the Yosemite ballroom. This is elevated a few feet from the ballroom level, but not a full floor up. About a half flight of escalator takes you up to Yosemite.
Attendees will transit Yosemite on the way to a large bank of escalators up to the Grand Ballroom on the floor immediately above the session areas. This is the largest area of vendor exhibits with all of the major sponsors including Cisco Systems, US Robotics, Bay Networks, Compaq, Rockwell and Digital Equipment Corp.
Click on the accompanying images of Yosemite and the Grand Ballroom to get a larger graphic showing available booth space and layout of these exhibits.