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Discussion in 'Home Theater Forum Meets' started by JohnS, Jan 19, 2018.
Missing those meets....
I didn't know this thread existed until it popped up on my RSS feed.
I apologize it took this long for any of us to respond.
I am going to blunt -- and I am certainly only speaking for myself and not the rest of the ownership -- but I think our days of doing the meets are probably over. I know I have personally made a decision (at least at this point) not to be involved.
I know that for many of you, the meets have been a lot of fun. I can tell because we see the same people and families year after year -- and that's very encouraging to us that we are helping to provide an experience that all of you enjoy.
I must say, I look forward to seeing you guys. Many of you I still keep in touch with on Facebook. Some of you I have become even closer to. People always look at me funny when I say that my best friends are those I met on the Internet. And why not? HTF has provided me the opportunity to meet people who share my personal interests.
Many people have no clue or can relate to my hobby. You guys can.
That being said, I just don't enjoy the meets anymore. They have been cumbersome to put together. Los Angeles is such a horrible place to drive in. The daily schedule is so frantic and there is always such a race to get from one event to the other, that by the time its all over, you need a vacation from the vacation.
We should have done a grand meet for our 20th anniversary in 2017. A decision was made to do it a year prior, which I didn't personally agree with. We kind of botched the launch of that meet with exorbitant pricing hoping to cover costs, and when we saw nobody was signing up, we cut the price of the meet at the last minute but it was far too late to get the number of people we wanted. It really was a bad mistake on our part. I think that was the year we also (not knowing) timed the event while CEDIA was occurring which resulted in hardware representatives not being available.
Additionally, one of our attendees slipped on the stairs during the Jeopardy tour at Sony. That resulted in having to take her to the hospital. I think the lady may have had a bone broken. It was very upsetting. It made me realize that moving forward, we could be held responsible for accidents that happen to attendees that may not be directly our fault. In other words, now we have to think about insurance which only raises the overall costs.
Another unfortunate incident involved one of the car groups getting the address to Disney studios mixed up. That very well could have been my fault when mapping out the directions. They ended up going completely in the wrong direction and had to backtrack. The rest of us just hung out waiting for them to show up to start the tour. When they did show up, they were rightfully aggravated by the whole misdirection. I felt very bad for them.
For me, the 2016 meet was a revelation that perhaps we should just stop doing these events. Behind the scenes, everything about it just didn't fall into place very well.
And then there is the changing environment of the studios...
In the early days, the studios embraced the Internet. We were very valuable to them. HTF was social media and a pipeline for which we could visit, look at emerging formats and technology, and talk about it on the forum.
The whole dynamics of that relationship seems to have changed. While the studios read feedback from forums like ours, they are pushing their own interactive groups on Facebook and Twitter. Those social media giants are killing forums.
It's also becoming ever more increasingly difficult to ask the studios to roll out the carpet for us. That costs them thousands of dollars to put together. Our end of the deal was to have our members write about the things they saw in hopes of spreading valuable information about the new technologies we had the chance to view first. However, less and fewer attendees over the years committed to writing feedback and as thus, it made things increasingly more difficult for us to convince the studios to entertain our group.
We were very fortunate to have made many friends at the studios who supported and recognized the value of Home Theater Forum. However, as all of you have seen, there have been so many changes in personnel in the past few years. Some of our biggest supporters no longer work at the studios. Disney just took over Fox and everyone we knew and loved has moved on. I don't even think I can get access to the lot anymore if I were to go out to Los Angeles for a visit.
The rest of the owners have occasionally talked about possibly doing a meet in the future again, but nobody has really committed to the idea and I have it made it clear that I don't want to be involved. It's really difficult to put these meets together. It's always a guessing game for us as to who we could actually schedule. There's pressure on us to make all of you happy, and sometimes we end up having to deal with complaints from the vocal minority that we didn't schedule things to their expectations. We try hard to make these meets a memorable experience for everyone, and it just becomes discouraging when a few aren't completely happy.
Perhaps a meet will be in the cards again one day. Right now, there's nothing going on. The last time we went out to Los Angeles 4k was on the horizon. At this time, the studios aren't even contemplating 8k. They have nothing to promote.
Sorry for the length of this reply. I wanted to be very honest with all of you from my perspective.
Bummer to hear but totally makes sense!
This is the first I've even heard of these "meets" which is my own fault for being disconnected for a long period of time after getting married. Guys like @Ronald Epstein and [I'm sure] many others have put in so much work and taken the risks over the years. It sounds like the events were comprehensive and more akin to what I would call an HTF Trade Show. I'm wondering if the meets could possibly be scaled back to just HTF members getting together to discuss our hobby and whatever else we prefer? If we did that in [for example, Las Vegas] there are plenty of other attractions for us to pursue in our alone time.
I'm confused. I clearly remember the last meet as being in 2015. In fact, I have photos from that meet dated October 2015.
Maybe it was 2015.
I only had vague notions of most these meets in the past and couldn't really consider attending for various reasons (mostly because of young family and finances back then).
But if there are future scaled back(?) meets/events perhaps, I would certainly be interested in the forseeable future...
But yeah, as Ron indicates, the state of the industry and consumer relations probably aren't nearly as conducive to such nowadays... at least for the kind of events that these meets used to be anyway...
Woops, just now catching up with this thread, myself.
Thank you, Ron, for taking the time to write such a thoughtful explanation of the past vs. where we are now. As sad as it is to reflect on the enormous differences between the present time and how things were less than a decade ago, it all makes total sense, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feelings on it.
I'm happy and grateful to have been able to attend the 2012 meet. I'm sorry I didn't get involved earlier, and that I had conflicts that prevented my joining again later, but I'll always treasure the memories of the people and events of that trip.
I wonder how many HTF members in various regions take a little time occasionally to get together on their own. Being located in the metro NYC area, I'm fortunate to have a fair number of such opportunities, but I could still do better at keeping up with everyone. At any rate, long live HTF, and thanks again to Ron for everything.
I was never able to attend previous HTF meets due to lack of funds or scheduling conflicts at the time. They always seemed like great fun and I appreciate that the members who did attend have always been so gracious in sharing their memories of the experiences.
As another person in the NYC area, I'd love to arrange something smaller scale in the future for people who are either in this area, or who could easily travel to it without breaking the bank. Although we wouldn't have all the studios tours to go on, it would be nice to hang out more in person (it was great meeting you, Charles, at one of the 3D-related activities here). And if there were enough of us and perhaps at a non-peak time, it might not be out of the realm of possibility to pool resources and rent out a screen at a theater to see a particular film if something like that was of interest. I also enjoy cooking as a hobby, so I'd potentially be up for some kind of home dinner gathering - a few of us getting together, sharing a good meal, and throwing a movie on in the background and chatting away the night sounds like a good time to me. Of course, my schedule these days is so wacky that I can't commit to anything just yet - but I love the idea and when my life gets a little less hectic, I'd love to contribute in some way.
A NYC area event would be very easy for me.
Years ago, we all met in Times Square and went to the DVD shop where we were granted a group discount.
Of course, such stores are long gone now.
Would be a pleasure to see you again, Ron!
I can't offer you discount DVDs, but I can make a pretty awesome pork chop