Retailers move from the meal area to the exhibit hall as it opens for the first time on Wednesday.
The response to the new venue for last week’s GAMA Trade Show, the Peppermill Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada, was almost uniformly positive despite the fact that it was not only a new hotel but a new city for the long-running show.  And although final numbers have not been released, attendance and exhibitors were reportedly both up for 2018 vs. last year in Las Vegas.

The facility was a step up from Bally’s in Las Vegas, where the show has been in recent years.  The improvement in facility, along with the much smaller number of nearby hotels, kept more of the attendees and exhibitors in the hotel, making for a clubbier feel and more opportunities for informal interaction.

Despite a larger exhibit space than last year, the exhibit hall was sold out once again, presenting future problems in accommodating growth at this location.  And given the number of exhibitors, the amount of exhibit hall time is insufficient.  With around 140 exhibitors and only 10 hours of exhibit time, there is less than five minutes per exhibitor for someone who spends all the available time in the hall without a break, a daunting challenge.

Sponsors received higher visibility than in previous years, with large video screens running sponsor slide shows throughout the convention areas of the facility.

Airfare was generally higher to Reno than to Las Vegas, but costs on the ground were lower, especially for retailers, who received GAMA-subsidized room rates at the hotel.

The scene at the Peppermill's geothermally heated 'winter pool' on Friday morning as the snow fell.
There was a travel problem on Friday as most attendees headed for the airport, one that never occurred in Las Vegas:  snow!  A storm dropped over a foot of snow on Reno, the fourth largest March snowfall on record, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.  That led to departure delays, missed connections, and delayed returns home for some.

But despite the travel challenges, the overall reaction we heard from retailers, exhibitors, and others at the show was widespread satisfaction with the move and the new location for GAMA Trade Show for the next few years.