The cigar media, attendance, and annual PCA jinx are my takeaways from the third day of the PCA 2021 Trade Show.

The start of Day Three saw cigar media gather for a press conference hosted by PCA Executive Director Scott Pearce, outgoing PCA President John Anderson, and incoming PCA President Greg Zimmermann. Of the 80 badges issued for the cigar media, there was maybe a 25% rate of cigar media that took advantage of being in attendance. I’m disappointed with the lack of attendance by the cigar media.  For many years, we in the cigar media have asked for an opportunity like this to have direct access to the PCA leadership. Cigar media needed to do better here and not showing up is frankly unacceptable.

One thing that has been a definite concern of the cigar media has been attendance at the Trade Show. At the press conference, Pearce disclosed the preliminary data from the 2021 Trade Show. When comparing it to 2019, it does indicate a decline. This decline is alarming. When this is combined with the “Economy of Scale” I discussed on Day One, this means less revenue for the PCA. While it’s easy to blame COVID-19 on things (the PCA didn’t use this as an excuse), Las Vegas was bustling with activity this weekend so I’m more inclined to think the other issues plaguing the Trade Show (costs, value, etc) are still at play.

2021 2019
Retailer Attendees 1622 2085
Retail Accounts 547 771
Retail Stores 1452 2017

In Part 2, I mentioned the word “foot traffic” – a word I use to assess how many people are on the Trade Show floor at a given time. I also mentioned concerns of a decline on Day Three. This is exactly what happened – and I expect it to be worse on Day Four. It is also time for the PCA to start treating this like a four-day show. Each year I am seeing more people working for the manufacturers leave early. This goes from employees of the manufacturers to the senior leadership and stakeholders. The bottom line is if you want people to stay at a Trade Show for four days, the exhibitors need to be here for four days.

The heat wave by Las Vegas standards broke as rains came through the metro area on Sunday. It provided some level of cooling, but in the process rain seeped through the roof of the convention center and damaged computers and equipment in the registration area. At the press conference, Scott Pearce joked that it wouldn’t be a trade show without some sort of natural disaster happening. I joked with him about the annual jinx that has plagued this Trade Show since 2015.

The heat wave resulted in temperatures of 117 degrees recorded, the highest ever recorded here. Like many of the other “jinxes,” it was another distraction that was out of PCA’s hands. However, the heat wave has once again raised the issue why the Trade Show is happening in July (the 2022 Trade Show is scheduled to run July 8-12 in Las Vegas).

The PCA Trade Show Jinx:

  • 2015 Comprehensive Smoking Ban Enacted in Host City of New Orleans
  • 2016 The FDA Deeming Regulations
  • 2017 Venue Move and California Tax Increase
  • 2018 Nicaraguan Crisis, Norovirus, Convention Center Fire and Flood Outbreak
  • 2019 CigarCon
  • 2020 COVID-19 Cancels 2020 Trade Show
  • 2021 All Time Record Heat in Las Vegas