12:16 p.m.: Stats update: 195 exhibitors are on the floor as of now, covering 130,700 net square feet.
12:10 p.m.: The committee is breaking for lunch. The booth just assigned was Professional Rides AG, No. 191. The lunch break is set for a half hour. We're about a third of the way home.
11:34 a.m.: We're plowing past the two-hour mark now, and the committee just placed PEM Fountain Co., No. 163. That means the committee's hovering around the 50-booths-per-hour pace they like. There's a lunch break coming up in an hour or so, and then I expect the pace will quicken a bit this afternoon.
11:16 a.m.: BOOTH UPDATE: American Coaster Enthusiasts, No. 153, was just placed.
11:12 a.m.: During the break, I talked with committee member Dick Mason, president/CEO of Mason Corporation in Brentwood, Tennessee. This is Mason's first official stint on the committee, but he participated in Space Allocation several years ago as an emergency alternate. I asked him the difference between then and now:
"At the time, it was not as computerized," he said. "It's a lot more efficient now. There was a lot more pencils and erasers before. This is like a war room—it's fascinating. It does justice to the members; everyone's trying to give people the booths they want."
10:47 a.m.: OK, they're back. Dealing with a booth move first, then back to assigning new spaces. This is a good time to remind exhibiting companies to watch for your confirmation e-mails and send in any changes ASAP.
10:33 a.m.: The committee's taking a short break. Up next when they return: No. 130, WorldRide Service & Supply Inc.
10:29 a.m.: It's still not too late to submit a contract for Space Allocation. A contract just came in a few minutes ago from a company that decided it wasn't prudent to miss out on this week's activity. The committee can't guarantee immediate placement, but the company will be worked in and it's certainly better to be in the mix today than wait until after the dust settles and pick up what's left.
To that effect, a few minutes ago a committee member called a member he knows isn't in and should be to let that potential exhibitor know how important it is to be involved today. For companies with significant exhibiting seniority, waiting until after Space Allocation is like throwing money away.
10:11 a.m.: Just a refresher on how this process works: The 14-member committee is comprised of members from different disciplines throughout the industry. Those committee members are then charged with keeping track of exhibitors in their respective areas. Everyone has a printed list of exhibiting companies, ranked in order of seniority and including preferences for potential booth spaces.
So the individual committee members look down the list for companies in their areas ahead of time and determine best possible booth locations based on those specified preferences. That way, when Committee Chair Jack Mendes calls out the company's name for assignment, the associated committee member is ready with an recommendation. When it works like this, the assignments come at a quick clip.
Discussion ensues, though, if a company's request is already taken, and the committee works to meet the exhibitor's expecations as best as possible given what's available on the floor. An e-mail confirmation of that assignment is sent immediately, so the exhibitor can respond in kind if it would like a different booth.
9:57 a.m.: It's been a sluggish start this morning, catching up with those 25-plus exhibitors, but now things are rolling right along. We're approaching No. 100, Safari Thatch Inc.
9:46 a.m.: A few technical difficulties out of the gate, but the committee's wrapped up with the few 25-plus holdovers, so now we're going to start running in order. The committee just assigned No. 85, Lil' Orbits Inc.
9:27 a.m.: OK, we're under way! All exhibitors with 25 years' seniority or more are assigned prior to Space Allocation, but a couple of those are being dropped in first, then the committee will resume regularly scheduled programming. By tomorrow afternoon, 602 booths will be on the floor!
9:20 a.m.: Going over some IT stuff, but we're getting close to go time.
Good morning, all. The Space Allocation Committee is getting settled here in Reston, Virginia. Committee Chair Jack Mendes of Bob's Space Racers is going over a few notes and then we'll be off and running.
Remember to refresh this page often to see my updates throughout the day.