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NATPE Gives Nod to Las Vegas

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Flush with the success of January’s convention, NATPE board members met last week to discuss the organization’s next step and all eyes are now on a return to Las Vegas.
Sources confirmed that executives agreed to return to Las Vegas next year as long as an “acceptable deal” can be reached with either the Venetian or the Mandalay Bay hotel. Attendees of the January convention felt the combination of a convention floor and nearby suites at the Venetian provided for a swift and effective convention, and virtually all of the participants surveyed said they want to come back.
However, insiders said difficulties with hotel room blocks and setup times would have to be overcome before the 2005 convention would be booked. Meanwhile, executives in Miami and San Diego have been wooing the nonprofit organization to move the trade show to either coast should a deal in Sin City fall apart.
“We loved what happened in Las Vegas,” one board member said. “The general feeling is that we shouldn’t mess with success. But if we can find a place to make things both cheaper and easier for our members to attend, that will be what we have to do.”
Next year’s conference will remain a three-day affair. Before this year the NATPE event traditionally lasted four days. Insiders also say that all signs point to another January convention.
NATPE President and CEO Rick Feldman said before the event that everything would be on the table following the 2004 gathering, including an all-suite convention, a timetable change and a move to another part of the country. Some observers felt that the organization itself could be in trouble if this year’s convention were a bust.
“There is good and bad in every move,” Mr. Feldman said at the time. “In the end, we’ll weigh the pluses and minuses of every idea.” He would not comment for this piece.
However, a slew of likely series cancellations allowed business to be brisk in January, and syndicators piled on clearances for new and returning shows. The resulting positive buzz quieted much of the uncertainty that has surrounded the convention in recent years.
All of the major syndicators attended the January convention, evenly divided between the floor and the suites upstairs. Board members hope to increase participation on the floor in 2005 with the possible additions of Paramount and Twentieth. But those decisions likely won’t be made by the distributors until fall.
NATPE is expected to announce attendance figures for the convention next week, with an increase anticipated of between 1,000 and 2,000 from the 2003 event.