The title is a bit how I feel from the e-mails that are landing on both sides of being in favor of or being against BEA returning to a 3 day format. Below is most of the content of a communication I sent out to the BEA Exhibitor Steering Committee. I hope sharing details and context that went into our decision will help make sense of our reasoning. The bottom line is that it was critically important for too many companies that needed 3 days to get the full value out of BEA and all I care about is delivering ROI. BEA came back from grave predictions in 2009, 2010 was a great event by all the feedback I have gotten. We are listening, we are engaged and BEA will surpass expecations again in 2011 no matter how lofty. I hope that we have proven we will deliver over the last 2 years because you are going to have trust us that we will do this right.
Also below is a link to an article from Inside Higher Ed - which is typical of the feedback we are hearing from all corners.
The overwhelming feedback has been extremely positive with BEA having delivered a dense, energy charged and productive event last week. That said, I wanted to take this opportunity to uniformly reply to questions I have been getting about our quick decision to restore BEA to a 3 day format.
People have suggested that BEA reacted too hastily without building a consensus as to what would have been preferred. I hope sharing the facts that went into our decision will alleviate this perception. Yes – there are certainly some participants who favor the 2 day format. But there are also many exhibitors who favor the 3 day format and for these exhibitors it is not just a question of "like or dislike"; these participants made it very clear that they critically need the additional day to complete their business and this genuinely impacted the value of BEA for them. This was both international exhibitors and smaller to mid sized publishers. We consulted with ABA and AAP as well to share with them the concerns we were facing and they both understood and endorsed the need to go to the 3 day format. The main reason BEA was compelled to make this decision quickly was to secure the participation from so many of the international collective stands who would have refused to re-new their space for 2011. BEA without participation from Spain, Mexico, France, the UK, Italy, China, and so many more of the international collective stands would be a greatly diminished event for everyone.
We will address the exhibit hours to make the switch back to a 3 day format palatable and help reduce the number of hotel nights. Our initial plan will be to have the conference program along with the ABA program on the Monday at Javits. The exhibits would be Tuesday 10-5, Wednesday 9-5 and Thursday 9-3. We understand that we will have to strongly program the last day of BEA to make sure all 3 days are relevant. We know the biggest and best change for BEA was moving to mid week, having the last day end on a Thursday at 3:00 p.m. will be far different than a 3 day event ending on a Sunday afternoon.