Today’s recap is the finale of the 2023 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show. I’m going to take a different approach to this recap and make some personal reflections as from a historic standpoint, this marks the end of an era on many fronts.

First I will say Day Five had low foot traffic – which I take as a measurement of the amount of people on the trade show floor at any given time. Unfortunately, for the past few IPCPR/PCA shows, we have somewhat gotten immune to this as an industry. For the Coalition Team, this is normally a frantic day of trying to cover booths. Today was a little different as we had three big interview/booth visits pushed to the final day. Much of this was due to the fact the CRA meeting discussed in yesterday’s report threw off many exhibitor schedules. These visits included Foundation Cigar Company, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, and Tatuaje Cigars. My personal goal was to produce video content for 50 booths, plus another 20 for booths where we did not shoot video. Unless content falls short of our quality standards, these goals have been met.

There are some big changes coming to the future of this Trade Show, and I wanted to reflect on them here.

Last Trade Show at the Venetian Expo (formerly Sands Expo Center)

For over 20 years, I’ve been coming to this place on or off for various conventions – maybe missing a year or two. In fact, since 2011, every Trade Show has been in Las Vegas – except for 2012 and 2015. It’s also the seventh year in a row. This is the tenth time in 13 years it is being held in Vegas. Of the ten trade shows held in Las Vegas, eight of them have been at the Venetian Expo Center, including the past four years in a row. For all practical purposes, this will be the last PCA Trade Show at the Venetian Expo Center for quite some time.

The reasons for the change are business related, as the PCA has found it increasingly difficult to do business at the Venetian. The smoking policies have slowly gotten more restricted at the Venetian. I also have heard the company that handled logistics was difficult to deal with. At the same time, I thought the Venetian provided a good venue for a trade show.

The long walk from the hotel to the Expo Center always provided moments where you would see friendly faces from the industry.

Many have enjoyed a couple of after-hours lounges – namely the Laguna Champagne Bar and later Bar Luca. Once upon a time, the Laguna Champagne Bar was the best-kept secret as far as smoking lounges. Eventually, industry people and attendees of the IPCPR got wind of it. Perhaps my personal favorite time was having a cigar with Mike Ditka there. The day I reported the Champagne Bar shut down, I thought the cigar industry was going to lose its mind. It was one of the most-read articles in Cigar Coop history.  While eventually it got too crowded, the Champagne Bar experience from the earlier days has been missed.

Eventually, Bar Luca replaced the Champagne Bar, and while it never had the same charm, that didn’t stop the cigar industry from making it a waterhole. However, even though industry people and attendees still went there, it became way too crowded. In the past couple of years, table minimums of a reported $100.00 per person combined with these crowds made it a total no-go for me. I won’t miss Bar Luca one bit.


Elimination of the Final Half Day

Based on the extremely low foot traffic of the final day over the past few years, the PCA had to do something – and that decision was made to eliminate the final day.  I’ll hold off on commentary for this until our Recap and Full Post Game Report. What I will talk about here is reflecting on that final day.

There used to be an electricity to that final half day on the show – even on the slowest of days. Today was not that type of day and I missed that.

Our team had a couple of traditions to close out the past few PCA Trade Shows. First, we would meet up with the Developing Palates team at the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust booth for a final smoke. This was followed up by a Ramen Noodle lunch before heading back to the Cigar Media Compound. I assume we will continue that tradition at the DTT booth. Hopefully, that lunch will turn into a dinner.

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop

While this wraps up our daily recaps from the PCA 2023, our post-game coverage has just begun. Stay tuned for product and company reports!