Author: Thurman, Russ
Date published: May 1, 2011
SHOT Show 2011 ended in a less dramatic fashion than did the 2010 edition. There were no leaking roofs or power outages, nor, most notably, an avalanche of blistering complaints targeted at NSSF. While most exhibitors rated the 201 0 show as a highly successful business event, the floor layout and the Sands Convention Center received failing grades.
That changed this year. Even exhibitors who were highly critical of the 2010 show gave high marks for the improvements to this year's event.
Dwight Van Brunt, lumber's vice president of marketing and sales, who observed of the 2010 event, "The venue is deplorable," said he saw "positive changes" this year.
"The show is flowing better. People are happier with the venue. I'd rate it a big B, B+. We're not in A territory yet, but we're definitely in the Bs. Last year was failing," Van Brunt said.
The leap from an F to the Bs drew a sigh of relief, mixed with a sense of accomplishment, from NSSF officials.
"I think it was a spectacularly good show," said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. "People attending the show were smiling; they were pleased. A lot of people worked very hard to make this a good show. My overall impression is they definitely succeeded."
The improvements began shortly after the close of the 2010 show.
"We took to heart what people said about the press room, common areas, signage, lighting, shuttle buses, creature comforts and navigation," said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
Dolnack said his staff worked closely with Reed Exhibition, Freeman, Sands Convention Center, Venetian management and the Las Vegas Sands Corp.
"The Las Vegas Sands Corp. sank millions of dollars into improvements. They put in the escalators to help move people between the two levels more easily. They remodeled the restrooms and they replaced all the light fixtures on Level One. They will be redoing the front lobby areas for Levels One and Two before we go back next year. So, they continue to make investments," Dolnack said.
More Exhibitor Space
While NSSF enjoyed improved ratings for the 2011 show, it was hit with pointed questions for suspending the exhibitors' space draw for the 2012 show.
"Space draw was suspended for 2012 to allow us flexibility in adjusting the layout," Dolnack said, shortly after the 2011 show. "We are asking the largest exhibitors to voluntarily reduce their exhibit space by 20 percent. This will allow us to include more exhibitors on Level Two, and to allow more companies currently on the wait list to participate."
By mid-April, NSSF had completed its survey of the show's larger exhibitors and made booth assignments.
"We picked up 5,1 OO net square feet from seven exhibitors who voluntarily reduced their booth size to help the show," Dolnack said, indicating much of the space was on Level Two, permitting some exhibitors to move from Level One to the main floor.
"It also allowed nearly 50 companies on our wait list to move into the show for the first time. It's important to note that the equity exhibitors have earned in the priority point system remains intact," Dolnack said.
Will additional exhibitor space open up before next year's show?
"Not unless companies drop out between now and the 2012 show," Dolnack said. There are still more than 200 companies on the wait list.
2012 And Beyond
NSSF continues to address questions about why the SHOT Show is held in Las Vegas, and why it's using the Sands Convention Center.
1In survey after survey, attendees and exhibitors want the SHOT Show to be in Las Vegas in January. The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) is not available to NSSF during January or February, so the only place large enough in Las Vegas to hold the show is the Sands Convention Center. People are generally pleased that we're at the Sands. Is it perfect? No. Is it meeting the expectations of people right now? I think it is," Sanetti said.
Dolnack says he' d like to dispel a rumor concerning the LVCC versus the Sands.
"People say, 'You guys are only in the Sands because you make more money on it.' The truth is, we pay more than twice the rent to be at the Sands than we did at LVCC. It's not a matter of NSSF being greedy and making more money; it's a matter of, we can't get in the convention center before 2024. If you want to be in Vegas and you want to be there in January or February, it's the Sands," Dolnack said.
Sanetti and Dolnack acknowledge there are still improvements to make to the SHOT Show.
"We know the industry is watching us. They want to know, 'Is NSSF really listening to what we say?' Or are they saying, 'You're just a captive audience; you'll just show up.' We're never going to do that, and we always try to make things better for them," Sanetti said.
'It's a work in progress. We know we have some things we have to do for next year. It needs to be a great success; it needs to show greater improvement from 2011. It needs to be that way for NSSF; it needs to be that way for the industry," Dolnack said.
The 2012 SHOT Show will be held January 17-20. Visit www.nssf.org and www. shotshow.org.