I thought I would take an opportunity to put down some of my thoughts and observations from the IPCRPR 2014 show that was held in Las Vegas 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.
While I didn’t get into town until well after the seminar had gotten under way, I heard from others that did go that it was sparsely attended. During the opening breakfast on Sunday, the FDA was a topic of discussion.
There was a booth near the entrance to the trade show where the IPCPR had set up a couple of laptops so that people could submit comments to the FDA. While I wasn’t monitoring the booth, the few times I was in the area, I never saw anyone using them.
Other than these few times, I can’t say that I recall the FDA being a topic of any discussions I was involved in.
Based on previous years, I was very curious to see how everything worked out with Internet Media at the show. Internet Media was allowed in an hour before the show officially started along with the PAC VIP members and we were to use this time only to walk the floor and take pictures, but we shouldn’t be chatting with anyone. We were able to enter fine during this early entry, but I heard a few other Internet media members say that initially they had trouble getting in, but it was quickly resolved, so I think that was more a miscommunication with security than anything else.
I only saw one person getting escorted off of the show floor, but that person didn’t have a badge and based on the conversation, looked to have been brought in by a manufacturer. Thus far, I have not heard any negative items regarding how the Internet Media was received nor how anyone was treated. Time will tell if any stories come out.
This year, we did get the opportunity to meet, and in some cases hang out with, other members of the media. It’s always great meeting people in person that you’ve spoken with either via email, video chat or other means. We met people from Calypso Cigar Review, Cigar Authority, Cigar Coop/Stogie Geeks, Cigar Dojo, Cigar Federation, Cigar Memoir and halfwheel. Everyone I met seemed like great guys and everyone showed appreciation for what the others are doing. I foresee a good amount of collaboration in the future.
Cool things that weren’t cigars
At the Hammer & Sickle booth, they had a laser engraver. They were doing laser engraving on small cases that held two cigars. They would put your name into the computer and would engrave the lid and then it went back into the cardboard box. Took about 2 minutes for the entire process. They are offering this service if you purchase items through a list of retailers that they have on their website.
Grace Sotolongo of Sotolongo Cigars was in the CLE booth. She brought in a woman named Miriam who does ash readings. Basically, you smoke a little into your cigar and she is able to tell you some things about yourself based on that. I didn’t actually go through the process, but I thought it was a cool addition.
Non-cigar related products
There were quite a few vendors at the show that were selling non-cigar related merchandise/services, much more than I remember last year. There were lots of booths, at least 6, that were pushing Tens Units which are electronic messaging devices. These vendors were pretty aggressive. There were people offering massage or to sit in massage chairs. There were cell phone case vendors as well. There was even a booth selling teeth whitening supplies, which I would put on the very fringe of being cigar related.
I asked a few of the cigar manufacturers their thoughts on these vendors and got mixed results. Some said that as long as they paid the money to attend, they should be allowed in and others felt it really was counter-productive to the goal of the event. Some manufacturers were in clusters of booths where they may have been the only cigar related product surrounded by non-cigar related products. I could see where some people may skip the section all together to not have to get hassled by the other booths.
I’m still not sure about this one. I heard that the number of badges distributed were higher than last year. I also realize that the show floor was larger than last year. With that being said, at times during the show, certain areas of the floor looked deserted. There were booths that were definitely packed with people, so it may have been just how things looked to me, but I would be very interested to hear an official count.
The layout of the booths seemed a bit odd this year. There were some sections of the show floor where you thought it was the end, but you’d take a peek around a curtain and see another one or two booths. I would guess that effected traffic for the people in these locations. Last year, it seemed a bit easier to go up and down the rows and make sure that you were seeing everyone.
I heard of at least two box thefts, one from the Gran Habano booth and another from the Drew Estate booth. I also heard that Abe from PDR had his laptop stolen which contained all of the orders he had taken at the show. I am sure there were more, but it’s a real shame that people come into the trade show and choose to walk off with the products that are being displayed. The manufacturers are more than generous with the samples they give out, so it’s unfortunate.