RANT: How SHOT Show Industry Day At The Range Lost Me

This year I made special plans to attend the SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range (also referred to as Media Day) only to be greatly disappointed.   Let me begin by saying how this is a rant about something I have to get off my chest.   I understand and appreciate how many readers of this blog might feel lucky to have the opportunity just to be part of this day.   To that I say become a writer and report on industry happenings.

Here’s the deal.   Normally I fly into Vegas on Monday (the day before the SHOT Show exhibit floor opens) and prepare for a good night’s sleep before hitting the trade show hard for the next four days.   This year I decided to change up plans.   I had not been to Media Day for a few years and decided I would check it out once again in 2014.   This decision was largely because of this e-mail received in 2012 from one of the event organizers:


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Okay, I thought to myself this is rather special.   They followed up with me to see if I was going to take advantage of my invite.   Well, as luck would have it I could not attend in January of 2013 because I had already booked a flight and lodging plans that would not allow that invitation acceptance…so I responded with this e-mail:


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After this correspondence I thought maybe it’s time to re-think my annual SHOT Show travel plans and include Media Day once again.   So, when plane tickets were purchased and lodging was reserved this year, I planned to come in on Sunday afternoon so I could spend a full day at Media Day and then attend the show when it opens the next day.   Problem is when doing this my budget only allows a 4 nights stay so it meant coming home early on Thursday (and missing two regular show days because of it).

I made the decision to attend Media Day and all went well until registration.   It was a confusing mess and the upshot is this year I apparently wasn’t one of the privileged few to get an all-day invite.   Nope, I was told I could not go to the range until the afternoon session despite the fact all my media colleagues left bright and early in the morning for a full day.

Now, keep in mind I made plans to attend based on what I had been offered in the past with an all-day invite.   I would certainly expect that a media person who was attending his 24th  SHOT would have at least earned that privilege…but apparently not.   I was duped.   I relied on what had been customary all previous years to go out to the Media Day when it opened early and make a full day of it, if that’s what I intended to do.   I most certainly would not have cut my SHOT Show experience short had I known that was the opportunity cost to attend HALF A DAY AT MEDIA DAY!!!

So, I’m done with SHOT Media Day.   That Monday will once again forever become a travel day for me to the main show.   I know some of my colleagues are enamored with getting to do some hands-on shooting and testing.   Good for you.   A lot can be written about a gun when you get to shoot 5 test shots on some uncontrolled desert range.   I find the entire pre-SHOT event to be nothing more than a bunch of hype combined with photo ops in an outdoors setting.

And here’s what really gets me.   I had made these travel plans and was committed to attend Media Day, but I lost out on that opportunity thanks to organizer incompetence.   You see, on Thursday night when my return flight got home I found this package at the top of the mail pile on my desk.

Envelope

Yup, it was the package of my credentials to attend Media Day.   They were so disorganized this year apparently they could not mail them out in time for some of us to have them in Las Vegas.   What a bummer.   Essentially, I feel like I wasted a day of my SHOT Show experience because of this process and the rather poor way it was handled.

Nope, never again in this blog’s pages will you read me making plans to attend SHOT Media Day at the Range.   In my opinion it is an unorganized joke and I will not allot time in the future, in my schedule, for this event.

I remember the good old days when SHOT only had 300–400 media attend to report on it.   I understand that it has exploded into nearly 2,500 media annually and it gets more difficult to manage all those people.   Still, I refuse to be relegated to a half day access only when on that Monday I could be on a plane sipping a cocktail on my way to THE REAL SHOT SHOW EVENT!!!

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Enjoying The SHOT Show After Hours Is Also Important

I belly up to the bar just to give my aching feet a much needed break.  The SHOT Show will do that to ya, you know!   Okay, maybe the rest of me needed some relaxation in the form of an adult beverage, but the point is I started a conversation with the bartender.   It went something like this…

“I bet you’re happy the gun folks are in town for business, huh?”  I casually broke the communication ice with the barkeep.Manbar

“Oh, you bet!” was his quick reply.   “Heck of a lot better than last week here when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in town.”

Puzzled, I asked, “How could that be?   The CES is the largest trade show probably three times the size of SHOT?”

“No doubt,” was his quick reply,  “…but those high-tech geeks come into town, go to their show, maybe catch a bite to eat in a restaurant afterwards, yet they are more likely to hole up in their hotel room playing with their electronic toys ordering in room service.   They don’t sit in a bar to unwind.”

Shaking a cocktail in his hand, he continued on, “You probably think the gun folks like to drink and have a good time (after hours), hell, you should see the cement guys when they come in for their trade show in a few weeks.   Now, those guys know how to have a great time!”

As I brought my beverage to my lips, I pondered the possibility of how different trade shows attract different personality characteristics.   I had no clue the nice folks in the hospitality industry profile all of us patrons quite that way.   As for party animals, it appears SHOT Attendees are merely “middle of the road” when it comes to knowing how to have a good time when the floor hours end.

And that’s okay!   The daytime hours might be very business-oriented, but the after hours can combine a bit of fun along with business, in many circumstances.   It used to be finding a party to attend after the show each night was somewhat of a challenge without certain “connections.”   Well, no more.   Finding places to go or people to mingle with is as easy as joining social media.

In recent days I have seen more than a dozen different invites to private parties extended to folks who dare to venture on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other similar social mediums.   Still at a loss for how to have some fun when the SHOT Show is not currently experiencing business hours?

Come to the Tweet-up below:

I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you in person.   Besides, if that isn’t enough…my understanding is the Sportsman Channel will be giving away some SWAG and you might even find a free beverage or two.   No promises on the last statement, but past experiences has proven that it pays to get out of your hotel room and rub elbows with your SHOT Show peers during the nighttime hours.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Preparation Before SHOT Show Determines Benefits Achieved After Event

I know what you’re probably thinking.   He’s going to tell me to make a schedule and lock in to appointments at the SHOT Show prior to touchdown at the Las Vegas Airport.   Nope!

Okay, then he’s going to tell me to make a game plan and highlight on a map all the booths where I want to pick up materials and talk to exhibit personnel.   Wrong again!

The SHOT Show has long been accepting of many types of attire, but to gain the most respect it pays dividends to look your best.

Let’s see, I bet he’s going to suggest I scour some of his blogging buddies’ websites who occasionally get leaked advanced information on new guns, products or services so the hype is in full force by the time the show floor doors open on Tuesday.   Nah, not really!

Then it must be he plans to explain how a checklist created in advance is a necessary aid to ensure everything a show attendee wants to accomplish actually gets completed.   Great idea!   But no!

One last guess.   I bet he plans to tell us how carrying a small notebook to jot notes with a tape dispenser to attach business cards right to that page of the notebook is a smart plan to stay organized and not forget any of the important details.   Well…as a matter of fact, NO!

WELL, WHAT IS IT?

Truth is, all of these suggestions are great ideas and worthy of careful consideration to stay organized and efficient.   Yet, the preparation I’m talking about today is more about developing a professional state of mind.   Everyone who goes to SHOT represents something.   If you’re the buyer for a store, obviously you represent that store.   If you’re a manufacturer’s rep who carries a bunch of different lines, well then you likely are wearing several different hats during the show.   Even media who does freelance work represents something important—themselves.

It’s important to go into the SHOT Show thinking and acting like the true professional you seek to be.   Long before you pack your bags and head to the airport you need to start thinking about your image.   Honestly, the non-verbals such as what you choose to wear while walking around the show can play a big role in how others perceive you, professionally speaking.

Now, I’m not here to say everyone needs to dress up and wear a sport coat or a dress.   Many people do that and some are required by their employers to do so, and that’s great.   I, in fact, do not dress up quite like that.   Instead, what I am talking about is if you wear jeans make sure they are new and not a pair that appears like they’ve been through hell.   Likewise, a dingy old T-shirt (or a T-shirt of any kind, for that matter) is best kept at home.   How you appear speaks volumes about how seriously others will likely take you at the show.   First impressions are important both in love and in business.

Another aspect toward developing a professional state of mind is being organized.   Believe it or not, others will judge you as a professional based on the few minutes you spend at their booths.   For instance, if you forgot your business cards or don’t have a pen when one is needed, this reflects negatively on you.   The preparation phase for being organized at SHOT begins right now!

And finally, the professional state of mind requires a positive mental attitude throughout the show.   Let’s not kid ourselves…the SHOT Show can be a grueling adventure.   By Thursday and Friday it takes an extra effort to crack a smile or stay upbeat when your body is getting beaten down.   Don’t allow fatigue to dull that professional edge.   There’s still plenty of work to be done even as the show begins to wind down during the final days.

In closing, it’s easy to focus on the glitzy, high-anticipation energetic days spent at the SHOT Show as being the most important days of your tradeshow experience.   As well it should be.   Still, if you want the best possible positive results in the weeks and months to come after the event, the time to prepare and to act takes place from the moment you finish reading the post.   Good luck!

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.