As I did last year, I thought I would take an opportunity to put down some of my thoughts and observations from the IPCRPR 2015 show that was held in New Orleans this past week. Just to be clear, these are my thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Blind Man’s Puff or any other member of the team here.
This year the event was held in New Orleans after being in Las Vegas for the previous two years. This was my first trip to New Orleans and it probably wasn’t the best circumstances to have my introduction. I’m sure any write-up you see on the event will cover the weather as it was a frequent topic of everyone attending. Anyone who has been attending IPCPR the last few years is no stranger to the heat outside. Add humidity in the 80% range along with some thundershowers and it was down right oppressive.
People were a bit more spread out in terms of lodging, but there were shuttles from some of the hotels that ran to the convention center about every 15 minutes. This really helped to stay out of the heat for those that weren’t adventurous enough to want to walk to and from the convention center. Cabs or Uber seemed to be the transportation of choice for those not on the path of the shuttles.
The show floor this year was massive. Standing at one end of the main aisle and looking towards the other end showed what would be a lengthy walk that we took many times. The organization seemed better than last year. The aisles were pretty similar all the way down and didn’t seem to have any nooks where a manufacturer might be tucked away and easily missed.
There were far fewer booths related to products that have no association with the theme of the show. There wasn’t anyone pressuring you to come into the booth to try out their odd products and listen to sales pitches.
Based on conversations with attendees and the general look of things, it appeared that attendance was down again this year. Part of the appearance of there being less people could be due to the massive size of the show floor, so we’ll have to see what the official attendance numbers are to say for a fact. There were various topics brought up to try to explain why there might be a lower attendance. The location argument could be plausible to me and some people just might not be interested in visiting New Orleans. The argument about the smoking ban causing people to shy away I just don’t buy. Based on the various cigar shops and lounges that events were held, along with the restaurants/bars that had patios that allowed smoking, I’m not sure that there was an over the top level of a smoking ban.
Even though attendance seemed to be down, a fair number of the people I talked to said that sales were going very well. Booths were definitely busy, but only the brand owners really know how successful the event was for them.
Thus far, I have not heard of any negative reaction to any of the Internet Media attending the event. I know I saw a few brands that skipped the show last year as well as a few others that were making their first appearance. I think you will see some great coverage coming out of the event from the various sites out there.
I was able to get to meet more of the media this year including more of the Cigar Dojo team, JD from Toasted Foot, Ben from Cigar Jedi and Craig from Cigar Craig. I also got to spend more time with other media members that I have met previously which is always a great time. Everyone is friendly and accommodating. I guess we could be seen as competitors, but we all do something a bit different, so it’s refreshing that everyone is so friendly and that we can even collaborate together.
Overall, the show was great for us. We continue to build relationships in the industry which is making the brand more visible. Everyone we talked to, in the various facets of the industry, are so welcoming and friendly. This is truly a great community. With the number of booths and size of the show floor, even covering four days, we still missed a fair number booths. We have been going to the booths as a full team and next year, we may have to split up into two teams to be able to finally cover every booth. We have some great cigars going into the queue for blind reviews which should make for a very exciting second half of the year.
I want to extend a thank you to everyone that we had a chance to talk to. This show is about sales, so when people take a break to chat with the media, we really appreciate it. To those that we did not get a chance to talk to, please know that we did not miss you on purpose. Looking forward to seeing everyone again in Las Vegas next year.
Keep an eye out for our picture review of the show and maybe some other new stuff.