Licensors, licensees, agents and retailers share their thoughts.
“All at Ludorum were delighted with the experience as a whole. From an exhibitors stand point, setting the stand up was a delight compared to the Javits, staff were polite and couldn't do enough to help and were genuinely warm and friendly. Footfall seemed to be as strong as last year, the same UK retailers were all in attendance save one and the general atmosphere was very upbeat. Walk up traffic was especially brisk and the usual percentage as bizarre as ever. We’ve already signed up for next year.”
Julian Day, Ludorum
"I found the show to be very upbeat and positive with a good turn out of the right people. The change of venue seemed to give the show a new lease of life, with the Mandalay Bay being a convenient and great location. It was easy to get from meeting to meeting and there was great public seating and space to catch up with a random unprompted meeting. The show itself was very well organised and the venue was more than ideal for such an event. I had some great meetings. This show was an excellent tool for my business and great for networking. I would definitely recommend the show for 2010."
Alison Pilgrim, Senior Licensing & Brand Development Manager, Golden Bear Toys
"The upside of Licensing Expo is that business was pretty good. Certainly interest in the properties I represent was high, but it also seemed to be the case that many other companies and individuals found significant opportunities at the show. That said, traffic seemed a touch lower than I had expected. Although this is a new venue, there really is no excuse for such bad signposting of the various booths. And in a town as service-oriented as Vegas, the catering should be a lot better. But I will be there next year. If you're in this business, you can't miss Licensing Expo."
Caroline Mickler, MD, Caroline Mickler Associates
“It was perhaps not as busy as I expected, but there was a good business vibe there and the lack of walk-up traffic actually meant that I was able to meet up with more of the people I specifically wanted to. My overall impression is a positive one. Las Vegas is the king of convention centres and it’s a definite improvement on New York. Everyone I spoke to agreed that the change of location had very much revitalised things and I will definitely be returning, and maybe taking a stand, next year.”
Mark Hurry, Director of Legal & Commercial Affairs, PPC
"I thought the show was very worthwhile and enables buyers to view all licences on a level playing field and get a feel on 'the next big thing'. It was also great for making new contacts to follow up with in the UK. Venue and organisation was good - more food/drinks stands would have been helpful as breaking for a full hour to queue for food was frustrating given my tight schedule. All the big brands were there - can't think of anyone we missed. Timing was perfect for us as we're just planning SS10. Definitely go back next year."
Claire Marsh, Buyer, Kids Essentials, Sainsbury's
"Getting to and from the show was no hassle, registration was a dream, the show was easy to get around (the aisles were a little badly signed, but I am sure this will improve next year), but it felt more spacious and less hectic than New York the year before. There also didn't seem to be an overwhelming noise level - you could actually hear yourself think when you held your meetings. It was great to have some of the bigger licensors and studios back in the main halls, as a licensee that just made my life easier from a time management perspective. I will be going back, it's a once a year trip that is as much about networking as it is about seeing new licences - to our business it's very important."
Rachel Wyatt, Director of Marketing, Kinnerton Confectionery
“Pros - great venue, great after show parties, some excellent booths and some exciting licences on show. Cons - no daylight for 48 hours and the booths were arranged a bit too randomly. Overall impression – top class event. Roll on June 8th 2010.”
Rob Hughes, MD, Wesco
“We love the venue – Mandalay Bay was perfect and we loved the fact that all was under one roof. But the signage was not very good, so it took a day to figure out what was where.”
Morten Geschwendtner, Chairman, Kidz Entertainment
“Everyone I spoke to was positive about the show and the smaller exhibitors who dress their own booths were absolutely delighted at the ease of building their booths compared to the usual set-up problems experienced at the Javits. The Mandalay Bay location, where most people stayed/ate/drank, meant that the opportunity for random meetings was higher than normal, which encouraged the networking process. I think the show delivered as much as it could in the circumstances.”
David Scott, MD, Rainbow Productions
“The show was a real success for Rocket. We found that one of the key benefits of the Mandalay Bay location was the convenience and ease of doing business, as all the on-site facilities were so accessible. Despite having a few good retail meetings, we did feel that UK retail buyer attendance was down on last year, perhaps because of the extra distance involved in travelling. Overall, a very productive show and one that Rocket will definitely attend next year.”
Rob Wijeratna, Joint MD, Rocket Licensing
“After the initial novelty of having a convention adjacent to a beach wore off, I think the Mandalay Bay was a pretty good venue. It was easy to get to and from meetings. There seemed to be a fair amount of public meeting space available and generally there was a good atmosphere. Minor niggles were that signage wasn't easy to follow and on day one service was pretty slow, but the venue grew on me. I think exhibitors had understandably reined in their efforts on 'big' stands and I think the extra space didn't suit everyone. This maybe created less buzz and I couldn't really identify one clear show standout property as has been the case in previous years. All in all I enjoyed the show. I felt people were focused and there to do business. I think it would be good to get more firm commitments from UK licensees, as I do feel the pendulum has swung too far in their desire to ensure retailers are on board with properties before licences are signed.”
Ian Downes, MD, Start Licensing
“We managed to pack in scores of meetings with a high calibre of retailers and licensees, the venue was easy to get to from the hotel and from a personal perspective, it was great for me to spend time with the new team. If I had to pick holes, I would say that attendance from European retailers was slightly down on what we'd anticipated and it wasn't ideal that the E3 date clashed.”
Tom Keefer, SVP Global Licensing, BBC Worldwide
“A good show, well organised and easy to manage with a few teething problems that should be resolved next time. The positives outweigh a show in NY. We have booked the same sized stand for next time.”
Andrew Carley, Head of Licensing & Merchandising, E1
“The expo was really busy for the FME team, we had full diaries for the duration of the show although footfall in the hall seemed a little quiet and we did not have as many walk ups as we expected. However, attendees were there with purpose and meetings were more efficient for that reason. Mandalay Bay was a good venue, it was really convenient to have everything all in one place.”
Lucy McCredie, Interim VP Brand Licensing & Retail, FremantleMedia Enterprises
“Not a gambling woman, I wasn't immediately excited by the idea of heading to Begas for the show, however the show did prove to be invaluable from a business perspective. From a UK stance, attendance was very good and I was particularly pleased to see the great support that UK retailers gave to the show. On the downside, I would say that Vegas is not the cheaper option that we were perhaps led to believe it would be. That said, I will certainly be going back next year. And hats off to Advanstar for a lovely kick off event.”
Clare Piggott, VP Consumer Products, Nickelodeon UK
“A good trade fair, although missed the social scene of New York. It felt rather enclosed as lots of us did not seem to get out of the confines of the Mandalay for days! We were very busy with some great retail meetings.”
Claire Atherton, Mattel
“For us the show was a great success on all fronts with very positive meetings and lots of good news. The venue was great - once you got used to it. Not knowing the layout and distances between and location of different areas of the show drove me crazy on day one, but after that it worked very well and next year we'll be better prepared. However, the numbering system for the booths was entirely beyond me and as much of a mystery on the last day as the first. We’ll certainly be back next year and now that everyone’s familiar with the venue and Las Vegas itself, I very much hope there will be more excitement and positivity coming into the show.”
Vickie O’Malley, MD, CPLG
"A very good show - bizarrely Las Vegas was the perfect place for the licensing industry to demonstrate the best of the entertainment and brands we all have to offer. I felt that the deal making suites were difficult to get into, even with an appointment and I thought some of those larger companies should have taken full booths; they could have done a Disney or Warner Bros - if they can get away with little more than a shell scheme, others could have done it without loss of face. Attendance seemed to be the right sort of people."
Karen Addison, MD, Karen Addison Associates
"We were generally pleased with the outcome of the show. The key decision makers were in attendance and ready to do business. Within the world of our 50x50 booth it was bustling with productive meetings. There seemed to be a little less foot traffic than past years and I definitely noticed that it was a little quieter than past years as well. We'll definitely be back in our same booth next year, likely at the same dimensions."
Darren Kyman, Executive Director, Marketing & Retail Development, Paramount Licensing
"Although we attended the show largely to deal with some outstanding business with a key client, we were pleased to find some important brands there that we might not have expected to be in attendance, as well as most of the big players and some UK retailers. The Mandalay Bay was a good venue, easy to get to and, importantly for those without a stand, plenty of seating."
David Ball, Performance Brands
"As a personal Vegas fan I thought that as a venue it was great. All amenities were easily accessible and transit between one's hotel room and the show floor was simple, so in general it was an easier setting to operate within than New York. The only negative point being that it felt a little insular, with everything enclosed under one roof you had to make a real effort to see anything outside of the complex. In terms of attendance, the show was far busier than I had anticipated - and a far cry from the apocalyptic attendance prophesised over the last few months. There was less traffic on the show floor, but those in attendance were there to do business, particularly on the international side. We'll probably look to increase our footprint on the show floot next year, so I'd give an overall 7.5/10 and all credit to Advanstar for making a difficult decision and sticking to it."
Andrew Kerr, Executive Director, Consumer Products & Marketing International, Classic Media
"I thought the Mandalay Bay was a great venue. The signage was very confusing and everyone was completely lost for the first day, but compared to the Javits it was easy to get to and from the show, close to the airport and with decent food easily available. A great improvement. Those who did make the trip were there to do business and everyone I spoke to had a productive and positive show."
Janet Woodward, Head of Licensing, Coolabi
"Our overall reaction to the show is a very positive one. We felt that the quality of attendees was very strong across licensees, retailers and international agents. Unlike New York, there seemed to be very few timewasters and therefore meetings were very productive. We were very happy with our location in the EDMS and were very impressed with the overall management of the area."
Jon Owen, VP Consumer Products & Marketing, EMEA, Hit Entertainment
"The gamble and investment to get us to Vegas definitely paid off, having come away with numerous new contacts and potential projects from a variety of exhibitors. The Mandalay Bay proved to be a functional and comfortable environment which came as a welcome change from previous years. Generally a great event, well organised and well attended. We would definitely consider revisiting next year."
Paula Taylor, Commercial Director, Dot Dash Design
"The Vegas show seemed very well organised and very easy to walk with everything being in one large hall. The wider aisles were visitor friendly especially with work stations positioned at regular intervals. The downside of it was that Las Vegas does steal your money whether you gamble or not! Overall the running of the show oozed efficiency, though attendance did seem down on previous years, but that could be attributed to losing people in the extra space."
Martin Lowe, MD, Roy Lowe & Sons
"Free Wi-Fi in the convention room was such a great idea. This helped me no end. I hope this makes the European show. The rows of seats between stands were also great for bumping into people and being able to sit down for a catch up."
Mike Hawkyard, 4T2
"While we missed all the attractions of New York, Las Vegas was great as a licensing show venue because, if one was staying on-site, the long NY taxi queues became a thing of the past and the close proximity of the show left everyone more time for networking and socialising where necessary. However, even taking into account the late changes, the lay out of the show itself was very confusing and this needs to be better next year. On the plus side, there were plenty of seating areas for impromptu meetings and the organisers should try and retain these even if the number of exhibitors increases in future. If I was asked to choose between visiting NY or Vegas on business, I would choose NY every time and I think this, not just the recession, had an effect on attendance. Having said that, this year's venue certainly had its good points."
Helen Webster, Licensing and Marketing Director, Blueprint Collections
"Despite initial reservations about the change from NY, we felt it was actually a good move. Travelling times to and from the show were cut drastically by staying on site and, although we have been to many trade shows in Vegas over the years, this one felt worthwhile. It was definitely smaller than last year, but we had some great meetings with people who don't always attend the show and we hope next year is as good."
Max Arguile, Licensing Manager, GB Eye
"On the whole I thought the trip was very positive and the licence company attendance was great. The property coverage and news the licensors were promoting seemed to me to be more exciting than the last two years and most really had something to shout about. I felt that it was a very worthwhile trip based on content. In terms of the vemue, the layout was easily navigated and well facilitated; there were also more lunch options available than at the Javits."
Sarah-Jane Porter, Licensing Manager, Tigerprint
"We thought the show was excellent - well organised and well attended with a lot more new properties than we normally see. For a Brit who has been to Vegas before, the novelty factor did not apply and I would have preferred the New York venue, both from a cost and a jet lag perspective. None the less we will certainly attend next year."
Tim Dawson, Chief Executive, TDP Textiles
"Memorable in a word. It was a very strange place and maybe that's why I think it works. Our industry needs to have something new injected into it and Vegas delivered. Not many buyers, I think, but a good atmosphere and something to build on. From a Hallmark point of view, we pitched to a number of licensors as international, so we appreciated having the time at the venue to make the meetings worthwhile. The highlight (apart from meeting the editor of Licensing.biz, obv) was seeing the industry adapt and look good at a new venue."
David Wootliff, Licensing Director, Hallmark
"I loved the fact that everyone was housed in the same place. This situation presented several unique opportunities to catch people in a relaxed place to discuss business outside of the hall. With regard to the Executive Suite set up, it was functional and well designed, so no complaints there. For next year, we will move onto the main floor and take additional space. Overall, I am very pleased with the move to Las Vegas."
Hamp Hampton, CEO, FitzRoy Media
"I thought the venue was a good one - it was great to have everything on site, the hotel and convention centre were new, modern and clean and all the staff were very helpful. All in all, it was a very positive experience - the show was executed very well and I have to say that, in terms of how the show itself was put together, it was an improvement on New York."
Hakan Durdag, ELC
"You couldn't beat the fact that everything was under one roof. When it came to building the stand, the staff were very good. It seemed smaller, yes, but more targeted and more focused. For Smiley, it was excellent."
David Walton, Business Development Manager, Toys, Publishing and Media Division, SmileyWorld