The NAB trade exhibition in Las Vegas is facing a significant drop in the number of visitors from the UK this year because of the economic climate.

With some manufacturers not exhibiting and purse strings being tightened (Broadcast, 13.02.09), many British facilities companies are opting to save money by arranging local meetings with suppliers, using the internet and visiting local shows.

According to a straw poll by Broadcast, roughly eight out of 10 facilities will be sending fewer staff than usual - or none at all.

Companies not attending include The Joint, Sumners and Sequence Post, while bigger companies such as Ascent Media and BBC Resources are cutting back the number of staff they send.

Brian Hardman, technology director at post house Sumners, said: “I have attended NAB for the past three years, but will not be going this year. Like everyone else we are keeping an eye on spend.”

A spokesman for another large facilities provider said: “Almost all of the manufacturers will come to us if we want to talk to them. And while you haven't got the convenience of having all the manufacturers in one place, it is much more focused on our needs.”

Evolutions managing director Simon Kanjee will attend the show. “We're sending three people to NAB, the same as usual,” he said. “There may be a credit crunch, but technology continues to move onwards.”

Some exhibitors are taking steps to help customers. US manufacturer Harris plans to stream content from its NAB exhibition stand so broadcasters that cannot afford to attend can still see its presentations and demos via its website.

“NAB represents a considerable expense for both the manufacturers and the broadcasters who make the annual trek,” said Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications. “Harris has the financial stability to not only weather a difficult economy, but also to support our customers through this downturn.”

The Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported that attendance at NAB is expected to dip to 98,000 from the original forecasts of 115,000.

A NAB spokesman said that while the economic climate would impact the show, the organisers were buoyed by new exhibitors and Avid's return. Media relations director Kris Jones said: “In times of economic uncertainty, conventions like NAB provide even greater value.”

NAB takes place 18-23 April at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.