First, thanks to all for the valuable feedback on our decision to push serving time back from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the show. I just got back from Friedrichshafen (The OutDoor Europe show), in the heart of the German countryside on Lake Constanz. In this legendary country of brewing and imbibing, where young children are practically nursed on Hefeweizen or Spaten Boch, you would never guess what their industry show serving time is... yup, 5 p.m. Wouldn't kid you.
This is a topic that we have received more and more feedback on as the show has seen the expansion from a few booths serving beer in the 90s to well over 50 booths serving beer on any given day, or hour, of the show today. The celebration atmosphere of OR is both fun and functional, serving to rejuvenate and grease the wheels of networking for thousands of hard working industry business people toward the end of their work day on the show floor. I am, as show director of OR, no stranger to the celebration scene of the show... in fact, at my very first show attending as a retailer (before there was a Winter OR, in 1988), I quickly earned the nickname 'Mr. Vegas' for the pure zeal I put into that aspect of my work. Different story I can tell you, maybe over a beer...
OR has developed a reputation as a show that gets business done, but has a great 'vibe' at the same time. We know that the party scene each day of the show (and well into the evening, of course) is part of the cultural fabric of the industry, and we would not think to eliminate it or take the show into the 'dry' zone. Perish the thought. But as the celebration scene has, like order deadlines, crept earlier and earlier, exhibitors’ and retailers' voices have gotten louder and more frequent, telling tales of disrupted and rushed 3:30 meetings due to the change in focus brought on with tapping the keg and turning up the tunes. A few years ago we put in place a decibel ceiling of 85dB, which we know takes time and coaching to implement since most booth designers do not include a decibel-meter. Exhibitors understand this disruption and have started to book softer, 'unplugged' type music that is more respectful of neighbors wrapping up business meetings. In response to continued (and widespread) feedback, this year we did make the move to push serving time to 5 p.m. from 4 p.m.
Before the pitchforks and torches come out, keep in mind this is only for free alcohol pouring from booths on the show floor. You can get a frosty cup of beer anytime from any concession stand, and at the New Exhibitor Pavilion – there is a new beer garden for those intrepid attendees getting their thirst on. At Open Air Demo we will also have beer gardens – yes, count them, two. That beer will be pouring earlier for sure, matching the more informal atmosphere of OAD leading into the main event.
Although the overwhelming feedback on this move has been positive, we know this doesn't make everyone happy; we've therefore pushed the 'hard close' of the Salt Palace to 6:45 p.m. to extend party time in the booths... the dogs won't get let loose until 7 p.m.
We are always actively looking for ways to improve the show experience for everyone involved in the business, so please keep those comments coming through all the feedback vehicles we have at our disposal: Twitter (#ORShow, @outdoorretailer); Facebook (Outdoor Retailer); comment on this blog post; put something up in the Collective Voice, email us, or send an old-school letter to show director Kenji Haroutunian at the address below. We'll take you seriously.
Seriously. Look forward to celebrating with you in SLC in just a few days!
31910 Del Obispo #200
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(er, if you send a bottle, give me a heads up... thanks)