June 24, 2022
8½ Takeaways from LightFair 2022
Reactions from attendees, exhibitors and other lighting people
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – LightFair 2022 wrapped up in Las Vegas yesterday and by most accounts it was a very good event that caused most attendees and exhibitors with whom we spoke to be satisfied, pleased or very enthusiastic about the event. The event registered over 11,000 attendees and we estimate that at least 10,000 people actually attended. Here are some takeaways:
1. Seeing is believing
LightFair 2022 was our first opportunity to see full exhibits of two growing categories: biophilic lighting and a vast display of 3D printed fixtures. Experiencing biophilic lighting in person is a gazillion times more enlightening than any brochure, seminar or video on the topic. Similarly, seeing a vast array of high-quality 3D printed fixtures made us realize that the category isn’t just a sustainable science experiment. The fixtures we saw had a robustness and variety that was both impressive and inspiring.
Additionally, we enjoyed seeing other lighting and controls products up close. Being at LightFair allowed us to inspect and appreciate important details like mitered corners, light distribution and ease-of-installation features.
Lighting people who attended both LightFair 2021 in New York and this year's show seemed to be favorably impressed with the growth of Lightfair compared to the mask-mandated show in New York that occurred nearly 8 months ago. First-time LightFair attendees seemed very pleased.
Other lighting people whose last LightFair was a much larger 25,000+ person event before the pandemic had to shift their mindset at first, but the concern over a smaller LightFair event compared to pre-pandemic LightFair didn’t seem to be a major red flag for most people. Attendees wanted to be there, and most seemed to accomplish what they set out to do at the event.
3. More Meaningful Stop & Chats
For lighting industry veterans, past Lightfair events sometimes felt like an endless stream of 30-40 second conversations – catching people in the aisle, or in a booth or after a seminar, before being interrupted by another person or priority. But this time around, attendees seemed to be having more meaningful stop & chats that lasted minutes, not seconds. This may help foster a stronger sense of community that show organizers view as a priority.
4. Traffic Flow
There was only one way for (non-exhibiting) attendees to enter the show floor – through door W2 that fed attendees right into the large, centrally located Signify and Cooper Lighting booths. Nearby Current™ and Crestron seemed to benefit from that traffic flow, too. In past events, attendees were allowed to enter through multiple exhibit hall doors.
It’s no accident that Disney World feeds guests through the gift shop after riding Pirates of the Caribbean and other attractions. We sense that this traffic flow setup was intentional – perhaps to help drive traffic to the show’s biggest exhibitors and supporters.
5. Controls Companies Seemed Very Happy
There was a short list of pure-play lighting controls companies exhibiting at Lightfair 2022. The ones we spoke with were very enthusiastic about the event and grateful to be perceived as bigger fish in a smaller pond.
6. Architectural Lighting Designers: Chicken and the Egg
Many architectural lighting designers told us that they were pleased with LightFair 2022.
There were a vocal few, however, that also shared candid negative feedback about the lack of larger, well-known specification brand exhibitors. One told us that moving forward it’ll be “the chicken and the egg,” meaning that designers will stop showing up if fewer spec brands exhibit, and fewer spec brands will exhibit if lots of architectural lighting designers don’t attend.
7. Still, Many Architectural Brands Were Pleased
We talked with many architectural lighting brands – some of whom were not blessed with the highest-traffic aisles, and there was consistently positive feedback from the architectural brands. As of midday on Wednesday brands including ALW, ALUZ and NLS Lighting shared very positive feedback with us.
8. No one seemed to care about hot outdoor temperatures
Before LightFair, we heard non-attendees cite hot Las Vegas summer weather as one of the reasons they wouldn't be attending LightFair. We had some fun with the notion on social media (with sincere apologies to Flava Flav.)
Vegas temperatures were in the mid to high 90’s each LightFair day, but with Vegas not really being a very walkable city and most lighting people spending most of their time in well air-conditioned spaces, people didn’t really seem to mind.
8½. Future LightFair speculation
Live business events in all industries, including lighting, are having challenges recovering from the pandemic. Many attendees and exhibitors noted the absence of some significant brands including Acuity Brands, Lutron, Lumenpulse and Legrand. When big brands sit on the sidelines, fewer lighting agents attend. And when and fewer agents attend, the number of accompanying specifier and distributor customers also suffers.
Looking ahead to LightFair 2023 in New York, it seems super important for the bigger brands that exhibited in Vegas – including Cooper Lighting Solutions, Current™, Signify, LEDVANCE, LSI Industries, RAB Lighting and Nichia – to continue their support of future LightFair events.
Many lighting people are hoping that the other big brands will return to LightFair next year. And if that doesn’t happen, the importance of having the big 2022 exhibitors return to LightFair 2023 becomes even more important. One attendee noted that if big brands slowly pull out of the show, it may be akin to a fledgling suburban mall that saw Nordstrom, Macy’s and JC Penney pull out…which then caused The Gap and The Limited to leave. Then American Eagle, Cinnabon, and so on.
Our hope is that lighting decision makers and lighting brands will continue to invest in the industry, the event and vigorously support LightFair – which, in turn, supports two super important lighting organizations that each own a one-third share of LightFair – the Illuminating Engineering Society and the International Association of Lighting Designers.