The IPCPR 2017 trade show is over and I wanted to do a write-up on my thoughts from the show.
Another IPCPR trade show, another year in Vegas. You won’t hear any complaints from me on the city. Coming from California, it’s a quick and cheap flight and I feel that they city is super easy to get around in and has plenty of entertainment options. The Las Vegas Convention Center was a fine venue for the trade show. I think that the only thing that I could say or that I heard that people wished was different was the physical location. The space was fine, the amenities were nice and the food services were the same as years past. Actually, I do have one more gripe. It’s a small one, but I think very important: water stations. In years past, there were some water stations setup across the show floor where you could fill up a cup or your own water bottle as you went along the aisles. I battled the dryness like others did and just having them as reminders to keep drinking water is a great addition.
One of the biggest wonders going into the trade show was how were the after show events and hangouts going to be effected by a non-central location for the show. I think people were a bit more spread out, but the regular haunts from years past seemed to still get a fair amount of traffic. The host hotel had a bar that I think a fair number of people gathered at, but I never went, so I can’t really report. I will say that we were busy every night with multiple events and got to spend time with friends and meet new friends alike. I think everyone can take a sigh of relief and know that everyone is still hanging out together even though we are more spread out.
I could pretty much copy and paste what I wrote in this section last year. Most companies, when asked, said that they did very well. Similar to last year, a fair number said day 1 was as good, if not better than the whole show last year. Sales data is more elusive than attendance numbers, so we have to take that for what it’s worth. For some companies, it makes total sense, they are in year 2 or 3 and they have spent the last year reaping the rewards of their success from last years releases or are continuing to grow their brand awareness as the word gets out. You could have also had a cigar listed on the Cigar Aficionado Top 25 list which doesn’t hurt sales. There were a few companies that said that the show was really bad for them. The reason, I am unsure of, but they will want to figure it out if they don’t already know. It could be a lack of new product or a lack of representation or social media presence. Based on our unofficial poll, sales sounded great and I’ll lean toward believing it until I hear otherwise.
The FDA had a huge boot print on this show. Last year, there was a big push to get product shown before the August 8th deadline. This year was a time to get some of that, and phantom products, out as new releases for this year. There were some companies that didn’t go that route and didn’t have anything new to present at the show. They are working on things behind the scenes and waiting to see what happens with regulations to determine how to proceed. There were also some companies that didn’t attend this year which could be due to FDA or other reasons. The other aspects of FDA’s effects are the reduced blend information that is being shared as well as the quantity of old brands being reintroduced as they are products that meet the grandfather criteria.
This is one of my main focuses every year. This was year 2 for us at the trade show, but my fifth. Every year there are companies that we get to meet for the first time and I’m always glad at how those discussions go. It reminds me of the good work we’ve put into the site and concept and that we can communicate that to people when we first meet. For the people that we know a little or a lot, this was another opportunity to continue to build those relationships and I think we did pretty well. Getting a chance to partner up with Will Cooper on his Prime Time Show earlier this year has also brought us some more visibility. Will has also gone out of his way to introduce us to those that we haven’t had an opportunity to meet with before and we really can’t thank him enough.
This is another section where it’s the same as last year. Not having enough time to visit all of the companies that we want to. We scheduled more appointments this year than last year and we were unsure if that was a smart move as there can be issues in getting from booth to booth or someone running behind. This year, everyone that we had an appointment with was on time and very efficient with the visit. I hope that is a trend that continues as it helps us out immensely and I’m sure they see the benefits as well. The second recurring issue is the media entrance time. I won’t get into the details, but somehow being to talk to IPCPR about our concerns would be a big help in regards to this same issue every year and just in general for the relationship between media, and I’ll even define it more as online media, and the IPCPR.
The safest prediction to make is that the FDA will have an impact, good or bad, on the trade show next year. There are multiple ways that things can shake out which could definitely fill up an entire article of its own. We also know that the trade show for next year is already scheduled, back at the same location as this year. I think with how the show went this year, there really shouldn’t be a concern about the logistics of location and hotels as everyone should already have a pretty good idea of what their strategy will be. There will probably need to be some changes made based on attendance numbers and feedback from the companies presenting. I’ve heard some interesting ideas floating around, but we’ll have to see if those get heard and if any of them get implemented to change things up.