Cigar Editorial: IPCPR 2018 Thoughts – Aaron

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The IPCPR 2018 trade show is over and I wanted to do a write-up on my thoughts from the show.

The Venue:

This was the second year for the event being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There were some changes from last year that occurred right before the show began as there was a health scare from a norovirus outbreak occurring at the Westgate which is the attached and primary host hotel. Some of the events scheduled to be housed at the Westgate were moved to the Convention Center and seemed to go off without a hitch. In regards to the functioning of the show, it seemed to go as well as previous years.

With the issue at the Westgate, some people decided to cancel their reservations there and find other accommodations. That, in combination with the closing of the Champagne Bar, raised another question as to where a centralized hangout spot might be after the show. There is a new bar at the Palazzo call Luca, and that seemed to house a fair number of industry attendees in the evening. I saw the bar on our one trip to that hotel in which we were there for a couple of events and a few other people mentioned spending time there, but I think people were quite a bit more spread out this year than in years past.

We ended up renting a house this year rather than staying in a hotel. Our team attending the trade show doubled from last year (adding Seth Geise and John McTavish) and we wanted to be able to hang out together rather than splitting hotel rooms and it allowed us to have an even bigger group stay at the house which also included Will Cooper and Bear Duplisea. This worked out great as it was a place to really be able to relax and gave us the opportunity to invite some people over in a low key setting. This ended up being our common hangout spot other than when going out for events.

The Movie:

The night before the trade show opened, the movie Hand Rolled premiered. The audio in the venue was dreadful, at least from where I was sitting, so there were some parts where I couldn’t make out the dialogue. Other than that, which isn’t really the fault of the film makers, the movie seemed very well put together. It starts with some history and then discusses various topics in the industry. It took a weird turn around the 75 minute mark where there was some bashing of Cuba and Cuban cigars and a few other items that seemed a bit disjointed. There were some glaring omissions from the film such as no mention of Honduras as well as some very large brands/personalities that you’d think would be included/referenced. There are times when someone who knows nothing of tobacco or cigars could be engaged and learning and then there are other times where those people would be completely lost. It’s very hard to try to fit in all of the relevant content in a normal length movie and I would like to see this turn into a docu-series which I think film makers are planning to do. Something where each episode could focus on a certain aspect of the industry would be fantastic. If you get a chance to see the film, it’s definitely worthwhile to check it out.

Business:

Copying and pasting from the last few years, most companies, when asked, said that they did very well. Many 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. I didn’t hear anyone say that they were having a bad show, which I have heard in years past, but I’m sure some companies didn’t have the sales they had hoped.

The Fire:

In the early morning, before the second day was set to get started, the slogan of this years show was taken literally as a small fire occured in one of the booths. The fire didn’t do much damage, but the water from the fire sprinkler system did. The show was delayed while IPCPR along with the people from the affected booths and the Las Vegas Convention Center team pulled up all the carpet in that area and cleaned up the water and put things back together. There was a 3 hour delay to the show and it ran two additional hours from when it was slated to close to try to get some time back. The following day, the show ran an additional hour as well to recover all the time lost to the initial delay. In seeing the show floor, you’d be hard pressed to know anything happened in that location. Everyone involved in the cleanup and repairs did a great job to get the show going again.

The FDA:

Other than starting to see more of the warning labels on boxes and signage, I can’t say I spent more than a total of 10 to 15 minutes talking about FDA related topics during the time I was in Las Vegas. With just getting the warning label requirement date held off, I think many people were focusing on the business at hand.

Our Reception:

This was year three for Developing Palates at the trade show and with bringing on Seth and John, it has helped immensely in strengthening existing relationships as well as bringing relationships they have that Jiunn and I didn’t to the group. Another year of doing the Prime Time show with William Cooper has also helped with visibility and relationships. Other members of the media as well as brand owners have also been very helpful in doing introductions and we’ve done the same for others when we’ve been able.

Disappointments:

No real disappointments this year other than the same one we have every year in not having enough time to visit all of the people we want to talk to. If we didn’t come to see you it’s not because we didn’t want to, we just simply ran out of time and weren’t able to make it there. Working with IPCPR was very smooth in regards to getting entry at the time we were told and no other issues presented themselves.

The Future:

Based on the dates shared for the next two years, it looks like the show will be one day shorter. I don’t know if this just eliminates the last day which is a half day, if it adds on an additional hour at the end of the remaining days or what. I’m looking forward in hearing more details about the schedule to see how it will be changing. The show will also be going back to the Sands Expo Center which I think everyone prefers due it’s attachment to nicer accommodations and how close it is to the strip. We’ll also have to see how things progress with FDA regulations and the ongoing lawsuits to determine what regulations will be coming and the timing.

Cigar Editorial: IPCPR 2018 Thoughts – Aaron
Aaron LoomisCigar Editorial: IPCPR 2018 Thoughts – Aaron

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