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THE MORNING BUZZ: Recapturing the ‘Cool' of the VSDA Convention

14 Jan, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

Although I've never been intimately involved in the organization of a convention, it seems to me in some ways similar to planning a party -- with all the problems and disappointments that come along with such an undertaking.

Some conventions are like going to your accountant's for cocktail weenies and screw-top wine; some are like pretentious soirees at the boss' house where everyone is overdressed, uncomfortable and just making an appearance because they have to; and some have that magical something, that confluence of factors—the cool—that results in crowds spilling out the doorway and everyone having a great time.

I think many would agree the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) convention over the last few years has rarely captured the magic of a great party. While the Venetian Hotel, the locale of the most recent confabs, was sophisticated and luxurious (I personally liked the marble bathrooms and two TVs), it often seemed a bit like making an appearance at the boss' house -- elegant, but a bit cold and too big for an intimate gathering. And with the Sands Expo Center hosting the exhibits and meeting rooms, the attendees were spread out even more.

Now, the VSDA and Advanstar Communications (publisher of Video Store Magazine) have announced the Home Entertainment Events joint venture will hold the July 16 to 18 show at the Rio Suite Hotel & Casino, instead of the Venetian Hotel/Sands Expo Center. The aim is to create more intimate and effective networking and dealmaking environment. The hotel will be able to accommodate the convention under one roof; allow the VSDA to create more unique meeting room spaces for exhibitors on several floors; and host the event's social gatherings and seminars, both of which the VSDA is promising more this year. As Sean Bersell, the VSDA's VP of public affairs, told us, "The exhibitors and attendees told us they wanted a new show and we listened."

Let's hope the Rio will also heat things up a bit and recapture some of the cool of the late 1980s and early 1990s events. That, according to various veterans, was the heyday of the convention, a charmed period when the video business was on the cutting edge.

There's no reason why -- with DVD, one of the hottest consumer products ever -- the annual VSDA convention can't generate tons of excitement this year. A renaissance in the convention would seem natural because the business is on an upswing. DVD is essentially cool. It's digital. It's new. And Hollywood talent loves it—especially directors.

While the ‘70s music and K.C. and the Sunshine Band appearances were great, lets hope the change of venue can propel the convention into the new millennium. We've got the hottest product around. Now, we just have to be cool.

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