Snowbound finished 2011 with respectable growth, and a lot of excitement about our new products –from our customers. This is all very rewarding. But what does that say about the rest of the economy?
Our products are cost-saving “bolt-on” solutions for our customers’ existing systems. They can dramatically improve the functionality of existing ECM systems without spending the effort and big bucks for replacements. But while cost-saving projects are good for Snowbound, it doesn’t prove that the rest of the economy is growing proportionally.
Well, we just returned from the HIMSS Conference (Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society), a medical imaging show in Las Vegas. They projected 33,000 attendees and 1200 exhibitors and 38,000 people attended – a great turnout. We found this to be an exciting show where people were still coming to our booth at 5:45 PM, with the show closing at 6 PM – and mind you, this is in Vegas! So Healthcare Information Systems are doing well, but is this an indicator for the rest of the economy?
I happened to get stuck overnight in Vegas after the show was over. (A couple of inches of snow delayed my Chicago stopover on my return flight to Boston.) My hotel room for Thursday night on the strip was $59. Not a good indicator for Vegas, correct? But Friday night, (my rebooking wasn’t until Saturday); the same hotel was charging $159 going up quickly as capacity decreased. So something was going on. Sure enough, on Friday people were flowing into Vegas. The strip had crowds walking down the sidewalks Friday afternoon. The lunch places were busy. Traffic was stop and go. And these weren’t business people, they were weekenders coming in for a weekend of fun and gambling.
In 2008, Vegas got hit hard with the collapse of their housing market and people not coming because Las Vegas was a luxury they couldn’t afford or justify. I’m sure Las Vegas is still a luxury but apparently there are plenty of people who can now afford it. A rough barometer, but I venture to say a good one. People now have disposable income and they’re spending it.
Between businesses being confident enough to send their people to a trade show and weekenders coming in for some fun, this is a good thing. I think we can start to be optimistic that we’re working our way out of the woods. Let’s just remember the lessons of the 2000’s – product quality, whether in cars, consumer electronics, financial services, mortgages, homes or document viewers needs to be emphasized. This is a competitive world and you need to make sure what you provide has real value.