We partner with many great conference and event providers in the drone market. But one has jumped out of the proverbial gate faster than all others: InterDrone. Only in its second year, InterDrone has become the CES (or Comdex for you old guys) of the new drone economy. This year’s event (Las Vegas September 7th-9th at the Paris Hotel) provides a vast tapestry of drone topics and knowledge sharing with a keynote speech from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
InterDrone is the combination of three conferences:
- Drone TECHON – For drone builders, OEM’s, and developers
- Drone ENTERPRISE – For flyers, buyers, and drone services
- Drone CINEMA – For aerial photographers and videographers
I had an opportunity to speak with Ted Bahr, CEO of BZMedia, the producer of InterDrone about the show and his interest in the drone space.
Ted, how has InterDrone taken the lead so quickly in the drone events market?
There are a few reasons. BZ Media is a successful, profitable company with 25 employees and 7 shows in high-tech markets plus a magazine, SD Times, for software developers. I made the decision to spend what it would take – and work as hard as it would take – to distance ourselves from the competition. So we overspent on marketing, overspent on the program, overspent on receptions and catering and we produced a show that blew away everyone’s expectations. It cost a lot but we are now seeing the return as our metrics for 2016 are way over last year.
Other distinguishing elements included having 8x the nearest competitor’s number of media and association partners helping to market InterDrone on six continents, building the largest technical program in the industry, creating the Women in Drones Networking Luncheon (then copied by all the other shows), and just building a world-class commercial drone three-day extravaganza. We had a Film Festival, a version of the NPR classic show Car Talk, called Drone Talk, Birds-of-a-Feather sessions for DJI and 3DR owners and super keynotes from AeroVironment, Cisco, DJI, and others that set the big picture and the tome for the event. As Robert Rodriguez of the Society of Aerial Cinematography said, “The commercial drone industry has chosen its ‘Go-To’ event.”
What was the inspiration to enter the drone market? Was there an “ah-ha moment”?
I started studying the commercial drone market in 2013 and attended the 2014 AUVSI show … and it blew my mind. After about 15 minutes at the show, I went into launch mode, talking to people about a show like AUVSI but focused om the commercial market. There was interest but at that time the show floor was focused on military drones and applications.
Anything special to be on the lookout for at this year’s event?
We know the bar has been set high and so we’re working very hard on making the show even better than last year. For starters, our grand Opening Keynote is being given by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. To have him come to InterDrone and address the commercial drone market directly is huge and I think it says a lot about his willingness to engage with the industry and continue working on that fine line between progress and safety.
The technical program has expanded by 20% to more than 120 sessions so there is plenty for anyone who buys, builds or uses drones professionally. We have more than 125 exhibitors already signed up and expect to crest 150 by the time the show opens so this will be easily the largest dedicated display of commercial drone technology in North America this year. The number of media and association partners has grown to more than 240. The InterDrone Film Festival is giving away $15,000 in cash prizes this year and we have special “InterDrone After Hours” sessions on the DroneCode open source projects and on starting and running a Drone Service Business. There is just a ton of knowledge being shared and it’s all at the Paris Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, September 7-9. There are more surprises in the works that will be announced soon so my advice is to register now and book your hotel room while our block is still open – we are about 80% full already.
Ted, thank you! Our teams (at DroneLife, DroneRacingLife, JobForDrones, and IFLY) look forward to attending and to the excitement of InterDrone.