Written by David Tebbutt, PC Dealer 09/88 item 01 - scanned

VARs do the business at the PC Show

By David Tebbutt

How would you like a couple of thousand good quality leads? Too many?

Don't worry, you can always keep the ones you want and pass the rest on.

One dealer who is planning to do exactly that, following its attendance at this year's Personal Computer Show, is the Apple Centre West London (ACWL).

Linda Harris, ACWL's managing director, decided to take a stand at the show and found the quality of visitor and the number of leads 'fantastic'. I've no doubt she would prefer me not to tell you about it, so that ACWL can have the field more or less to itself again next year (I did actually spot one other VAR).

But I think it's a story worth repeating. Harris' company had picked up 1,500 quality leads by the end of the show's third day and was still doing almost as well on the fourth day, despite it being a Saturday.

The reasons I know this are: a) I'm a nosey devil and, b) the show press office uses me to help with the production of a show newsletter and with some of the more technical radio, television and press enquiries.

This means I continually ferret around the show looking for interesting stories and getting feedback from exhibitors. You can therefore interpret this column in the light of my declared interest.

I should add, though, that writing is a very important part of my life so I try to keep myself, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. A very high percentage of registered enquiries on the ACWL stand came from London and the South East which is, of course, the company's 'patch'.

Some came from as far afield as Scotland, but unless ACWL has some specific skill which can't be found elsewhere, it will pass those clients to other Apple Centres. Another thing to bear in mind about ACWL's success is that it was probably the only major Apple-based stand.

More Apple dealers would certainly have reduced the volume of enquiries, although it's hard to say by how much. Harris told me that each time she upped the staffing on the stand, the volume of enquiries increased. She described demand as 'insatiable'. ACWL was in the business-only hall, thus shielded from the many 'tyre kickers' who prowled around the serious stands in previous years.

With only two halls before, it was impossible to separate the high-end business attendees from the mid-range ones. This year, with three clearly-defined halls, it was much easier for both exhibitors and visitors to choose exactly where they wanted to be. Plenty of trader-type dealers were there - picking up cash business, flogging the usual array of packaged software, disk boxes, connectors and the like.

One such dealer claims to have taken £130,000 during the show. These characters turn up every year, but there was a time when regular VARs used to exhibit at the (as it was then) PCW Show. When the games boom came, these value added dealers fled.

I think they were convinced that the show had been taken over by the noisy games companies. Many manufacturers probably felt the same way, which has proved to be great news for the likes of Olivetti (600 quality leads a day), Amstrad, Commodore. Atari, Acorn, Victor, Psion, Sun, Cambridge Computer and others who did book space.

Sure, the games people were there. And they were making plenty of noise.

I frequently walked backwards and forwards between all three halls and, even without looking at the stand numbers or the carpet colour, it was abundantly clear which hall I was in at any time.

I reckon that value added resellers based in the South East who have something special to say, something visual and attractive to show to potential buyers, and who want to pick up some fresh leads, could do worse than attend the show next year. Why let the two VARs who were there have it all their own way?