NAB attendees know how overwhelming trekking across the various and expansive sections of the convention floor can be every year at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
| As the Las Vegas Convention Center—home of the NAB show—has expanded in recent years, NAB likewise, has expanded its use of the facility.|
That's due, in part, to the logistical demands of setting up a show of NAB's magnitude. Avid, Sony and the other major players want considerable input concerning who can buy those big exhibit spaces, especially given an NAB points system that rewards companies for years of attendance coupled with their investment in the show.
But that can translate to smaller companies being designated to a less-than-logical floor location or for their booth number to fall out of the normal sequence.
Before any of the expected 105,000 attendees get cut off at the pass at NAB2007, the association has unveiled a new map online (http://nabshow.com/exhibitfloor.php) that is designed to simplify making the rounds at this year's show, to be held from April 14-19.
First on the agenda was the regrouping of the exhibits, said Chris Brown, executive vice president, conventions & business operations, for NAB.
"We basically had the same broad set of categories for a good decade or so," he said.
The categories, like TV/Film/Video and Radio/Audio, "had such broad definitions that we started to feel that they could be refined," Brown said. "So we tried to better understand how the companies and products really break down."
Since NAB is about creating and delivering content, Brown said the idea was to start the redesign of the show floor with an acquisition area, then move through post production and on to delivery.
NO GROWING PAINS HERE
He still offered a disclaimer, however. "The actual layout of the show floor, if you look at the new map from left to right, does not actually flow quite that way [from North Hall on the left of the map, to South Hall on the right], due to the physical layout of the LVCC," he said. "But that is our concept."
For instance, he pointed out that what are now called Acquisition & Production areas are present in all three of the main halls--but Post Production is in South Hall and Distribution & Delivery is in Central Hall.
Another key category that is tied to workflow is Management & Systems, which has some real estate in the South and North halls. The remaining categories are ProAudio and Radio, which will remain in North Hall (next to the Las Vegas Hilton).
"During the initial years after the LVCC expansion, we only needed to use half of North Hall," Brown said. "But now, we've expanded to use that entire building, allowing us to add Acquisition & Production there, with key anchors including Thomson/ Grass Valley Group [GVG], Harris Corp., Evertz and Dolby."
EASIER BOOTH NUMBERING
The rotation of key anchors has impacted the booth numbering system, which many attendees found increasingly confusing in recent years.
That was due to "philosophical and practical considerations, coupled with the demand for space," Brown said. "For instance, before South Hall opened, it was harder for us to keep the aisles flowing in a consistent fashion."
But with that limited supply and very high demand, the floor designers at NAB have had to accommodate a variety of space demands and configurations.
"We weren't able to do a very good job in the past," Brown said. "But now we're in a position to use a simplified numbering system, where booth numbers can be sequential and logical for the attendees."
That has been made possible by "holding a little bit harder line with companies about what we have available and what they can use," Brown said.
Another key part of the logistical update has been placing some of the big brands in anchor areas throughout the LVCC and even the Hilton.
"They represent the pulse and the platforms of the industry. They drive traffic," Brown said, referring to the anchors, "and there are many smaller concerns in the industry that revolve around these brands. Getting GVG to the North Hall, for instance, was a big move, as was moving Apple to the center of [the lower section of] South Hall. That made the distribution of our bigger exhibitors much better."
Now that NAB seems to have a better logistical handle on the show's layout, its continued growth is leading to the next big issue--and may force the next expansion back into the Sands Convention Center, which was used for part of the show from 1996 to 2002 (and will be the site of some non-association related business this year).
"When the LVCC expanded, the idea was to keep the whole event under one roof for the convenience of the attendees," Brown said. "But now the show is growing again and we may have to move part of the show back to the Sands as early as next year."