Thursday, March 19, 2009

Space Allocation 2009: Day 2—Morning Session

12 p.m.: The committee is breaking for lunch. They just placed Funovation, No. 432. Just to put things in perspective, by this time last year we had already wrapped, and the committee had placed more than 570 booths. When they get back from lunch this year there will be well more than 100 waiting for them. It's really been a mental workout; they're even working on redrawing more portions of the floor during the break right now. As Pete Barto just exclaimed: "It's all starting to work out now. You just have to wait for the floor plan to talk to you!"

11:35 a.m.:
Five minutes, 20 minutes … meh. Should be a short session now leading up to lunch. Still working on some parts of the floor, but they're rejoining to start slotting some smaller booths that will drop in quickly.

11:16 a.m.:
Five-minute break time. A couple more booth changes are going to require some discussion.

10:45 a.m.:
The committee just placed booth No. 400, Quick-Tag. About 150 to go.

10:30 a.m.:
That was quick. Back at it again, starting with—what else?—a booth change.

10:25 a.m.:
Committee's taking a break. When they get back, they'll be pushing close to No. 400.

10:10 a.m.:
OK, OK, pace is picking up. The committee just placed No. 382, amaZulu.

9:56 a.m.:
During the break I had a great chat with Ray Zammit of Nancy Sales Co., whose overseeing the plush booths during Space. Here's the bulk of our conversation:

Jeremy Schoolfield: How do you think the meeting's going so far?
Ray Zammit: We had a phenomenal day yesterday. We got everyone [in plush] that had at least six years of seniority placed in a fairly common section. We took a really hard look to make sure we listened to the comments. Obviously everybody has a unique situation—they’re all very interested in their own piece of the pie and want to make sure they’re not next to competitors. It’s a real dance, but at the same time it looks good. I love the way the floor’s shaping right now.

JS: It seems the pace is still rather slow this morning.
RZ: I’m surprised—typically the second day is a little easier because you get the exhibitors that have less seniority and, generally, smaller booths. It’s usually a matter of filling in, but the configuration of this hall is unique—it’s long and narrow, and two levels—and that creates some challenges. It’ll definitely smooth out. They’re still working on changes from some of the bigger guys who are jockeying for space on the floor, and once we make a few adjustments it’ll start picking up. It’s not a matter of just finding a space that’s available—there are a lot of rules that have to be taken into account, with height restrictions or blocking other neighbors.

JS: It seems the committee is doing all it can to accommodate requests.
RZ: The nice thing about Space Allocation is we all have a tremendous amount of experience attending shows, and we’ve known each other for a long time. This is a volunteer assignment, and we really want what’s best for the show. We want the show to go on for a long time, and we want people to have a good experience when they come. We want it to look as good as it can.

9:37 a.m.:
The committee's back in session. More adjustments to the floor plan during the break, as the committee and the IAAPA exhibit team adapts on the fly to make best possible use of both halls.

9:15 a.m.:
The committee's taking a short break. They just placed No. 366, Max-R. The pace is very jumpy. They'll get on a roll and place several booths in no time, then get hung up on one for several minutes. It all depends on the requests and how they mesh with the current assigned space.

9:08 a.m.:
Pace is quite slow this morning. The committee's on No. 360, Great American Recreation. It seems like every discussion about a booth move or floor plan adjustment is taking a good little while. There are multiple conversations going on all over the room as people work the issues.

8:38 a.m.:
Even though there weren't that many booth moves waiting this morning, the committee needed almost a half hour to handle them. With the floor starting to fill in, the hall's regulations, and keeping in mind things like keeping competitors away from one another, it's become immediately more challenging to accommodate every specific request on Day 2. The committee is working each situation thoroughly—with much discussion back and forth—but sometimes there's just no right answer to be had.

They've finished with the booth moves now and are beginning the regularly scheduled programming.

8:10 a.m.:
We're back! The committee is dealing with some booth moves first that came in overnight, and then it's on to No. 343, Play Mart Benelux.

One correction from yesterday: There are FIFTEEN committee members, not 13. That's why I was an English major—counting isn't my thing.

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