The following is an article from the April/May issue of SHOT Business magazine:
Las Vegas in January
The 2010 SHOT Show returned to Las Vegas in January by popular demand
By Chris Dolnack
NSSF Senior Vice President
Eighty-five percent of SHOT Show exhibitors have stressed that holding the industry's largest trade show in January is a must. A January show gives manufacturers plenty of lead time to introduce new products, get a head start on sales and ensure their products are in stores with plenty of time to spare before hunting season.
In 2008, the SHOT Show was held in February, and it turned out to be one of the lowest-rated shows in its history. This was primarily because many companies lost a whole month of sales because they weren't able to introduce new products a month earlier.
To combat this problem, the 2009 show was held in January in Orlando. That show was one of the highest-rated shows ever in our customer feedback surveys.
A majority of exhibitors, however, have continually stressed the importance of holding the show in Las Vegas. According to post-show surveys, 85 percent say the show should be held there "no matter what."
When it comes to trade shows, Las Vegas is a popular place in January. It's the most sought-after month in the trade-show business, with giants like the International Consumer Electronics Show taking first priority with local tourism officials.
We've been fortunate in the past to be able to hold the show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the most attractive venue by far to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (owner and sponsor of the SHOT Show), as well as to a majority of exhibitors and attendees.
More than anyone, we would like to hold the show there every year. Unfortunately, we were not able to be there in 2010 and will not be able to be there for the foreseeable future due to high demand for dates in January and February.
Other than the Las Vegas Convention Center, the only venue in Las Vegas that can support the SHOT Show is the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
The NSSF held the 2010 show at the Sands because of its availability in January. The Sands had planned to have a brand-new convention center built by 2010, but that plan, like many others around the country, fell victim to the economic downturn.
Though the 2010 SHOT Show successfully set records for attendees and media, we recognize that the venue posed some challenges for everyone. We've already begun addressing those challenges and are striving to improve the SHOT Show experience next year, when we head back to the Sands.
To start, there will be more adequate signage in the exhibit halls and common areas, more seating available for dining and more information staff throughout the venue to answer questions and offer directions.
We are also working with the Sands to address other facility-related issues.
A couple of rumors making their way around the 2010 show were that the Sands is NSSF's first-choice venue and that the show was held there because the venue is less expensive.
Both could not be further from the truth. On the contrary, it would cost us a lot less to hold the show at the Las Vegas Convention Center because it is a public facility.
Another rumor was that the NSSF has contracted with the Sands for the next 10 years or more. The truth is that we are under contract for 2011 and are finalizing a contract for 2012.
We have reserved dates at the Sands for years beyond that, but we are also carefully weighing our options for future SHOT Show venues that can provide the required 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space in firearms-friendly, warm-weather cities.
We are also continuing to work with the Las Vegas Convention Center in seeking future long-term dates there.
The fact that so many in our industry want the show to be held in Las Vegas in January is understandable. Las Vegas is a first-rate entertainment destination.
Many feel the SHOT Show is at its best when it's in Las Vegas, and, judging by booth traffic and sales at the 2010 show, we'd certainly agree.
We continue to receive and monitor feedback from exhibitors, attendees and media about the 2010 show, and we are listening.
It's our goal to ensure not only that the show remains second to none, but also that all of our customers continue to be provided with a can't-miss experience each and every year.