Day one of the actual show is in the bag. After visiting over a dozen booths and talking to numerous manufacturers, retailers and other media here is what’s been most talked about:

By and far the biggest topic is attendance. Everybody’s first day observations are that attendance is down and that it seemed very empty. This is more than likely due to the fact that the trade show floor is 30 percent larger than last year, allowing larger aisles, more booths to visit and just a generally bigger space that could swallow the same attendance as last year. Another minor difference from last year is the layout is very offset so you don’t have long aisles running the entire distance of the show. This made it difficult to see much, if anything, around the corner. As a side note – this seems to be the topic talked about most the first day or two of the three trade shows I’ve attended – attendance appearance in relation to venue size.

While we’re on the topic of layout, it seems every exhibitor we talked to either wasn’t happy with their booth placement or knew another exhibitor who wasn’t happy with their placement. The truth is that nothing seemed to be where you’ve come to expect it and there are definitely some seemingly strange placements. There was talk about separating out the e-cigarette, hookah and cigar booths at next year’s show, which might create a bit more cohesive feel to the floor.

The lunch area this year was on the same floor as the show, which mainly means you don’t have to put out your cigar when you wanted to go sit down at a table – a luxury you didn’t have last year when the eating area was separate.

Lastly, and maybe because it was the first day, but when the show closed at 5:00 it seemed they were much slower about turning off lights to force people out. It’s always the case that there are stragglers, but relegating them to darkness in an attempt to get them to leave didn’t seem to happen as quickly.

Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.