6:02 p.m.: The committee just wrapped after a long day. The last booth placed was No. 358, Max-R, with six years' exhibiting seniority. Although it ran a bit later than last year, the committee nevertheless placed more booths today than it did on Day 1 last year, which was another challenging session.
As a reminder, the committee will start at 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow, instead of 9 a.m.
5:35 p.m.: I spoke with Jack Mendes again quickly between assignments and he echoed Tim Timco's comments from earlier on why this afternoon has taken more time than anticipated.
"We got bogged down in a lot of special issues and problem childs, and it took us longer than normal," he said. "We've had more inquiries, and a lot of it is the exhibitors are watching it online and getting back with us, changing things and changing their booth sizes. It's a good thing, but every time we do that we stop and go."
Mendes said he likes to hit about No. 400—or two thirds of the total companies—on Day 1, but they probably won't hit that before having to break tonight for dinner (the meeting was scheduled to stop at 5:30). He said the group will come in an hour earlier than planned tomorrow, meaning assignments should start at 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday. Mendes hopes assignments should click away at a good clip tomorrow.
"Historically, as you get to the smaller booths it's less of a problem with moving things around and finding spaces for them and not being near competitors," Mendes said.
Then again, nothing this year has gone exactly as we'd thought.
4:51 p.m.: Art Attack, No. 301, was just placed. "I call that the halfway point, guys!" Jack Mendes said into the microphone.
4:37 p.m.: The committee's starting up again, with, yep, another booth move. Now it's on to No. 285, Ideas Extremas S.A. de C.V.
4:19 p.m.: I just spoke with Tim Timco, vice president of sales and marketing for Worldwide Ticketcraft, about the, uh … deliberate pace of this afternoon's assignments. He believes it's a result of this new IAAPA Information Age—namely the online floor plan and this blog.
"As more people follow things on the Internet, it gives them an opportunity to call in right away where they didn't in the past," Timco said. "It helps us all address things immediately, rather than after the fact. It may cause us to go a bit slower, but in the long run it serves its purpose and is worthwhile."
The committee's taking a short break, but will resume the proceedings shortly. The last booth assigned was No. 283, QubicaAMF Worldwide, with 10 years' exhibiting senority.
3:46 p.m.: Pace is better the past half hour, though it seems like every time I go to write that very sentence, something comes up to slow the process down. In general booths are moving faster now. Just assigned No. 272, Novelty Inc., with 10 years' seniority.
3:15 p.m.: Sorry for the lack of updates over the past hour, but there's just not that much to report other than things still are going very slow this afternoon. It's not any one thing, just booth moves that require a lot of discussion, checking of the floor plan, etc. We're behind last year's pace in Vegas at the moment, which is surprising but it just shows the committee is working every question thoroughly. We're still hanging around the 250 mark in seniority.
2:24 p.m.: The committee's back, and seems things are settled. Just placed Tapeswitch Corporation, No. 239. Right now we're in exhibitors with 12 years' seniority.
2:13 p.m.: The committee is taking another break, in light of discussions popping up all over the room. The committee's seeing some potential upsizing in booths and it's about time to start placing inflatables, so in light of several requests coming in at the same time it's bogged down the process for a little while.
1:47 p.m.: Back in session. Price Chopper, No. 228, just went on the floor.
1:38 p.m.: The committee's taking a short break as a few members continue to discuss some booth assignments.
1:24 p.m.: During the lunch break I talked with Committee Chair Jack Mendes, who said the morning went well.
"Normally it's a little slow getting started trying to get everything in place," he said. "I think this afternoon will move a little bit quicker."
Dan Kroeger, president of Gold Medal Products Co., concurred with Mendes that pacing was good, and said he was surprised there wasn't more feedback for booth moves. "Maybe it's a bit too early for that," he said.
Mendes said coming back to Orlando for 2010 does help the allocation process "because it's a big square with a minimum amount of columns. We don't have multiple levels or ceiling height issues, so it's a pleasure."
"We're all used to the Orlando facility," Kroeger said. "People can say, 'Put me in the spot I was in two years ago,' so it simplifies things."
Kroeger believes the pace will quicken this afternoon, as further into the process the newer exhibitors typically take less space, so it's easier to place them. At the same time, however, it gets more complicated to accommodate requests as the floor fills up. "You still try to fit people into the general vicinity of where they want to be," he said.
The most recent booth assignment was Tornado International Ltd., No. 215.
12:52 p.m.: Committee's back from lunch, starting with a few booth moves that came in, and then starting up fresh with Ragtime at No. 192.