LAS VEGAS — WSA COO Diane Stone was upbeat about the recent show, held here Feb. 12-14, despite an 18 percent drop in participation.
“A lot of people went into this show without a lot of expectations,” she said. “I’m happy to say there were a lot of important people here on both sides of the aisle.”
Stone said the event drew 24,270 participants, compared with 28,663 last summer. Reflecting decreased vendor attendance and smaller booths, the Mandalay Bay portion of the show was consolidated to one floor.
“[Given the fact] that buying staffs have been reduced, travel has been curtailed and companies have gone out of business, we feel fortunate to be down only 18 percent,” Stone said. “Every trade show, with few exceptions, is smaller in terms of exhibit floors and attendance.”
Forty percent of attendees came from the East and Central regions, while 35 percent came from the West Coast and the remaining quarter from overseas.
Stone said she was particularly excited about the uptick in attendance from Mexico and Latin America, as well as France and Germany, among others. “It’s a really interesting mix,” she said.
The organizer also cited the success of the show-within-a-show formats, including The Box, Children’s Club and the new C7 area in the Venetian hotel.
“We wanted to put the spotlight on specific niches and group those niches together for the convenience of buyers,” Stone said.
A number of vendors exhibiting in the C7 area said they were satisfied with the arrangement.
“C7 gave us more room to work with the clients and seemed less intimidating,” said Wendy Svarre, president of Hunter. “Next time, however, I would want to have more signage, which we were told was not allowed.”
In addition to the niche areas, the opening-day cocktail parties at both venues and the beefed-up lounges on the show floor were well received, Stone said.
Looking to August, she said the show — set for July 31 to Aug. 2 — would feature many of the same features when it moves back under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center. At that event, Stone expects to consolidate the branded companies into the North and Central halls to make it easier for buyers to shop the floor. (The Collections at WSA will continue to be held in the Venetian suites.)
In general, Stone said she also is trying to work with companies who are worried about the costs of putting up big booths at the show. She also acknowledged that some players still have issues with future show dates and that WSA continues to evaluate its options.
“I understand those concerns, and we are working on them,” she said.