Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rollin' Along

12:02 p.m.
The committee is breaking for a half-hour lunch right now.

Total booths assigned: 279
Total net square feet assigned: 213,900

11:58 a.m.
One of the issues that continually comes up when assigning booths is the "full back wall" booth design. I'm still a little foggy on this scenario, but basically a full-back-wall booth cuts down on visibility for the floor, so these types of booths have to be set back-to-back to make everything fair. This can get tricky on people's preferred spaces, as these seem to go quickly. These scenarios cause some of the most discussion in the room.

11:53 a.m.
We've hit the 200-booth plateau. The pace seems to have picked back up to more than one per minute again. There's definitely a lot more general chatter in the room now, though, as everyone works to figure out best positions and accommodate exhibitors' top choices.

11:44 a.m.
We've now assigned 186 booths today, pushing our total net square footage past the 200,000 mark. Following up on my previous post, keep in mind as the floor fills up it's going to be more difficult for the committee to fulfill first- and second-choice requests. So it's important to follow along on the Online Interactive Floor Plan and send in any requests for changes ASAP.

For the first couple hours the committee was assigning booths faster than one per minute, which I'm told is a fabulous pace. We've now dropped to about one per minute as the puzzle pieces get more complicated to fit together.

11:31 a.m.
I 'm sitting directly in front of the fax machine, and I can testify to the fact that this little machine gets immediate results. If a fax comes through, that typically means an exhibitor needs a change. The fax is picked up immediately and brought to Jack's attention. Just a few minutes ago an exhibitor decided it wanted a different spot on the floor, so there was a huddle over at the Big Board for a few minutes to figure everything out.

11:21 a.m.
Things seem to be going along fine. Everybody in the room is pleased with how fast booths are being assigned. There have been no major hangups … so far. Someone knock on some wood somewhere.

10:59 a.m.
We're now past the 150-booth mark assigned today.

10:46 a.m.
We're up and running again. This should be the last haul prior to the lunch break.

10:40 a.m.
One thing I've just been made aware of that I wasn't taking into account so far today: Prior to this meeting, any exhibitor who has been with us for 25 years or more has the option of participating in a premium space allocation prior to today. So coming into today we already had 78 booths assigned. Today we've assigned 134 booths thus far, meaning the total booths on the floor is 212. That equals approximately 161,700 net square feet, and that means nearly one-third of the floor is already GONE!

10:31 a.m.
The committee is taking another 10-minute break.

10:13 a.m.
I just overheard some rapid-fire phone conversations between Jeff Hudson of Skee Ball, who handles the games constituency, and a few exhibitors. Apparently a couple of them had some specific requests as far as placement and Jeff stayed in contact with both to make sure everyone's issues got worked out; at one point he had one exhibitor on a hard line and another on his cell phone, going between the two just double-checking everything was working out appropriately.

As an outsider looking in at this process, I plainly see the value of having industry veterans on this committee, because everyone in this room needs to have a good sense of their sections of the business. Some people want to be next to others, some people don't want to be near competitors, etc. There's a nuance to this meeting that goes well beyond slotting booths into a floor plan.

10:03 a.m.
The 100th booth was just assigned a couple minutes ago.

Also, there was a bit of a lag in the online floor plan for a few minutes, but that small issue is fixed now and everything is updating properly.With all the technology running through this room, seems to me it's normal to hit a glitch now and then.

9:55 a.m.
OK, they're back up and running now.

9:53 a.m.
Another memo for exhibitors following along: The online floor plan updates every five minutes, so if you don't see your booth yet, give it a sec.

Also, the committee is taking an impromptu break at the moment due to some sort of minor technical issue.

9:40 a.m.
For exhibitors following along, be sure to check your e-mail inboxes often (as if you don't already, I know). As booths are assigned, the sales team sends out confirmations. If you have any questions/concerns about your booth, reply ASAP so they can get you straightened out.

9:36 a.m.
From my position in the room, I'm basically looking over Jack's shoulder as he works on a 50-inch plasma screen. That's the size computer monitor I need.

9:30 a.m.
Committee members definitely have their constituents' best interests in mind. I don't know who the exhibitor was, but even though the company's first choice was available, their committee rep piped up and said, "I don't think they really want to be there." As the floor starts to take shape, the committee keeps that "big picture" in mind and does its best to put their constituents in the most advantageous positions.

9:27 a.m.
Progress report: The committee's working on the 67th exhibitor right now. Better than 10 percent of the way there …

9:25 a.m.
I spoke with a few people in the room during the break to gauge how things are going, and everyone I talked to seems pleased.

Jerry Aldrich of Amusement Industry Consulting represents small manufacturers in this process, and he said "things are moving at a pretty good clip."

I also spoke with Terry Reeves of Dippin' Dots, who along with Dan Kroeger of Gold Medal Products Co. handles food and beverage exhibitors. This is Terry's second year on the committee, and he said having one meeting under his belt makes a world of difference. "Last year I was just totally lost," he said with a chuckle. "It was one of the most intimidating things I've tried to tackle." Terry credited Dan, a committee veteran, with helping him learn how the whole process works. This year, Terry said he handles the nitty-gritty details of working with the computer interface, while Dan keeps his focus on "the big picture" of where F&B exhibitors are going.

Finally, I spoke with Judy Chambers, sales executive from the Vegas CVA (yes, your humble blogger kept busy during the break). Judy said Las Vegas has wanted IAAPA Attractions Expo in the city for some time, so she came over to take a look at how we put our show together and get a better understanding of the entire event. She was very impressed by the hi-tech setup, she said. (CORRECTION: Earlier I mentioned a rep from the CVA spoke, but had the wrong person. Chris Meyer, vice president of convention sales for the CVA, addressed the committee. Still a big deal, just a different person from who I thought it was. Sorry about that.)

9:10 a.m.
Right on the button, the committee is back at it.

9:00 a.m.
The committee is taking a 10-minute break.

8:48 a.m.
In approximately 18 minutes, the committee's already assigned about 35 booths. Some of these take, literally, 10 seconds. I'm guessing that pace will slow later in the day as more and more first choices start to disappear, but we shall see.

Just a reminder: the IAAPA Exhibit Sales Team set up an FAQ page for this meeting here, where you can find a link to watch the floor fill up in real time. Also, if you have any questions about your booth, e-mail

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