Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Parting Thoughts

One question that always seems to be raised around audio shows in the United States is “was this audio show a success?” It seems to me the correct answer to that question depends on both who the intended response is for, and how do they gauge success from their vantage point.

In corporate speak, you could argue that the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) provide the most insight into an individual evaluation of the weekend experience. But in a global sense for the once-a-year attendee, more shows is almost always better.

It represents a chance for newcomers to visit and be brought into the fold, and local enthusiasts to get their single opportunity for the year to compare the largest number and varied list of product comparisons (outside their local dealers). What percentage of the walking crowd at any given audio show is comprised of this unicorn of an opportunity for exhibitors? Hard to tell. It is a common complaint among exhibitors that no matter where they go in the U.S., a majority of the faces they see are the same.

Perhaps there is a bit of an inverse relationship given the needs of each group. Certainly for press, as long as there remain enough talking points, less is more manageable. Of course, for attendees more is almost always just... more. For exhibitors it could go either way based on the total room count, just as long as the hallways stay full and interested parties in their product feel frequent.

At RMAF this year, foot traffic to my ears sounded most impressive (from those polled) on Friday and Saturday morning, and less so the remaining time – as most will usually say “Sundays are always slow.” As I said in my opening post, those with inherent draw and anticipated product releases feel this the least.

Even with the reduced number of demo rooms over last year, the show to me remained much as it always has been: a solid reason to visit the middle of the country. There were plenty of big name speaker announcements and first listens for those who care. The general morale appeared very congenial and there were no public disturbances that I was aware of. Of course there were a few staff service complaints here and there, and everyone's evaluation of the quality of food seems to vary quite a bit. Still, there was a fairly wide variety of culinary options and (count ‘em) TWO Starbucks on property.

Coming from Los Angeles, I would say there was some expectation of a price break given the geographic location within the country but no solace could be found either in the fine-dining steakhouse or $25 breakfast buffet (plus mandatory 18 per cent gratuity). However the general grounds were equally robust in response, thought out and both energizing and relaxing if you knew where to look. Also for those interested in entertainment for non-audiophile partners, the Gaylord was the first show hotel I could recall to include a spa. Not to mention the whole lazy river and free root beer floats thing. For almost everyone I spoke to, parties walked away with exactly what they wanted from the experience, so there appears to be plenty of goodwill to build upon for next year. Great job and thanks to the staff and Marjorie for putting on another memorable RMAF.

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest