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VSDA Show May Have Turned a Corner

3 Aug, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The word coming from VSDA executives last week as the association wrapped up its 22nd annual convention was that the event has “turned a corner.”

They're referring to the show's transition from a traditional expo hall format to a meeting suites format, which they initiated last year with a combination of the two formats and fully implemented this year.

Whether retailers and suppliers met by appointment or just in walk-in meetings, the clear consensus from both attendees and exhibitors was that the format was more effective and constructive than the old show-floor booth business dealings.

The exhibitors and retailers I talked to said they had very full schedules of face-to-face meetings, and that these sit-down meetings tended to be more formal and businesslike but also more intimate and useful.

Gone are the days where retailers roamed the expo hall looking for the giveaways. Now they come to develop relationships and improve their businesses; the format demands that they try to make as many pre-show arrangements as they can.

Still, the buzz and fun of a show wasn't lost in the hallways of the Venetian. Many suppliers hosted cocktail receptions in the late afternoon, brought in talent who signed autographs, and had giveaways and drawings.

This year the exhibitor suites were all in the same tower of the Venetian on consecutive floors, which was a vast improvement from last year when suites were housed in several towers of The Rio. Still, the bugaboo of jammed elevators caused no small amount of frustration for attendees again this year trying to get from floor to floor and unable to easily access the stairwells at the end of the football field-length hotel corridors. I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem other than just more elevators.

Despite this one snafu, the event buzzed with plenty of high energy in the hallways outside the suites and seminar rooms, at the many show parties and supplier receptions. Several ad hoc groups of retailers also reportedly got together, including a group of active VSDA discussion board participants who met to discuss industry issues. The $20 billion home video business is becoming more complicated as it matures and is transformed by DVD. Ray Jewell, the VSDA conference chair this year, noted before the show that things are moving fast on many fronts in this business, and the Home Entertainment 2003 event was, for him, an opportunity to try to get a comprehensive view of the business going into the second half of 2003.

The show's new setup seems to be able to deliver just that.

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