2015 SHOT Show Posts Second Highest Attendance Total Ever

January 28, 2015

The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) rang up its second highest attendance ever Jan. 20-23 at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, with nearly 64,000 in attendance from 100-plus countries.

Last year's record-setting event was at about 67,000 attendees.

SHOT Show reports that lower attendance reflects strengthened pre-screening of attendees to enhance the overall experience of both exhibitors and buyers.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, owns and sponsors the SHOT Show.

Excalibur Crossbow has been exhibiting at SHOT Show for seven years, and Kyle Carruthers said, “a lot of visitors stopped by, and it’s been great exposure for our product.”

Steve Henigan with MGI, an exhibitor for eight years, said that the heaviest traffic was seen on the first couple of days and overall it was a good show for their company.

New to SHOT Show this year was the SHOT Store, which was where attendees could stock up on official SHOT Show t-shirts, jackets and hats. It must have been a successful addition given the fact that pickings were slim on the final day.

Digital signage was another new addition this year that SHOT Show plans to expand even more in the years to come. While the digital signs provide information to the attendees during the show, it also was running during move in with information for exhibitors and exhibitor appointed contractors.

The signage and a new clean floor policy helped to make move-in run more smoothly. “Having a smooth move in helped translate to a smooth opening morning and set the tone for the whole show,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president, and chief marketing officer.

Also new was the SHOT Showcase Theater, a collection of exclusive exhibitor presentations for buyers and media. Dolnack admitted this was one new feature that didn’t go quite as well as he anticipated, and he already has ideas that might improve it in the future should they decide to move forward with it again.

Dolnack said, “We’re trying to do as much as we can to add value to the exhibitors, so they feel good about the show.”

He explained that even though the organization is a not-for-profit association, they operate like a for-profit when it comes to their sponsors.

“We have to treat our customers not as members/sponsors but as customers,” Dolnack said. “That’s the way we approach it, and I think it’s paying off. They know we don’t take them for granted.”

To that effort, there are plans to hold a sponsor summit in Las Vegas in April of this year. The goal is to have a frank discussion with sponsors and potential sponsors to understand what NSSF can do to make their show better.

2015 was the second year SHOT Show participated in the U.S. Commercial Service’s International Buyer Program. Last year they participated in the pilot program and this year SHOT Show hosted nine delegations with attendees from over 100 different countries.

This program also is a value add for exhibitors who are looking to export. U.S. Commercial Service officers are on hand throughout the show to help guide them through the export process and share their expertise at no charge to the exhibitors. It’s a resource that many exhibitors would not have access to otherwise.

The New Product Center is a popular area for buyers and the media. Six hundred new products were part of the Center this year; that’s double what attendees saw last year.

By the end of the third day, there was a total of 23,500 scans in the New Product Center, up from 9,000 last year.

To help get new exhibitors off on the right foot, SHOT show requires they buy a package that provides them a good base for pre-show marketing that doesn’t break the bank. It also allows them to place a product in the New Product Center. One exhibitor that took advantage of the New Product Center was a second year exhibitor, Salus Security Devices.

Carmen Lobis of Salus Security Devices said that last year they came to SHOT show with a prototype. The interest level was high, and they received a lot of feedback from attendees on how to improve the prototype.

This year, after incorporating all that feedback into the final design, they put their new product in the New Product Center. Lobis said, “people are seeing the product there and then coming down to see us here in the booth. The media is coming down as well.”

Lobis added, “We’re getting the kind of exposure that we had expected and hoped for. From that standpoint, the show has been a success for us.”

Radio Row, where major conservative radio hosts broadcast live, is another way SHOT Show adds value by creating unique opportunities that exhibitors may not get otherwise.

Even the smallest mom and pop exhibitors can find themselves talking about their product on a national radio show.

SHOT Show’s 1,400 exhibitors and 640,000 square feet of product display aren’t the only reason buyers attend the annual event. There are four separate tracks of education focusing on specialized industry fields.

First-time attendee Mark Williamson, owner of Terrell Guns, said, “I will freely admit it is pretty overwhelming, but I’ve attended all the classes and I’ve gained a lot of insight into the industry. I think I can go back with a new business model that will really increase sales. I can’t compete with Bass Pro and Walmart, but I now have some new marketing strategies.”

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.