SHOT Show Sets Attendance Record at Sands in Las Vegas

January 19, 2014

The 37th SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor, Trade) Show, owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, saw a 6-percent jump in attendance this year, coming in at 67,000 attendees. A gathering place for shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries, the event took place Jan. 14-17 at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas.

“The show has been a homerun on all accounts,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “In about six and a half months, our partners and we were able to deliver a show that in the eyes of customers is seamless. I won’t be surprises if this is our highest-rated show ever.”

NSSF terminated its contract with Reed Exhibitions in May 2013, after Reed’s decision to restrict the sale of certain types of firearms at an unrelated event. SHOT had been managed by Reed for three decades.  In July 2013, NSFF signed a contract with show management company ConvExx to oversee the show.

“Reed was very cooperative in the transition,” Dolnack said. The show already had a contract with Sands Expo Center.

The 2014 SHOT Show came in strong at 635,000 net square feet and 1,600 exhibitors. “We had 131 new exhibitors and over 400 on the waiting list,” Dolnack said.

He also noted that the next year’s show was already 90 percent sold out. “We don’t allow our biggest exhibitors to expand their footprint because that prohibits some of the smaller exhibitors from growing appropriately,” Dolnack added. “We do have a number of requests for larger booths next year but we’re running out of space.”

The show is staying at the Sands through 2018. “Our customers like Las Vegas in January,” Dolnack said, noting that currently there are no plans to expand into other venues in the city.

Even on the last day, the showfloor was busy. According to NSSF First-time Gun Buyer Report, the $6 billion industry has enjoyed robust sales during the last several years, fueled in part by “newcomers to the shooting sports who are female and more urban based.”

This category identified target shooting and personal and home protection as the top reasons for purchasing their first firearm, according to the report.

Exhibitor Renea Brown with Ed Brown Products didn’t mind their place at the back of the hall. “This has been a very good year for us,” she said. “For the firearms industry in general, just about any type of handguns are doing very well.”

She noted that the company, a custom manufacturer of 1911 handguns, has been growing during the past five years. “More people are learning how to shoot a gun for personal protection and for target shooting,” Brown added.

Firearms seller Travis Behrens with Fryes Piece Products has been coming to the show for five years. “For us, ammunition is the trending factor. Who’s got it. Who can supply it,” he said. He comes to the show to network with supplier and place orders for his small business. “The hardest thing right now is keeping product on the shelves,” Behrens said.

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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.