One question we're often asked is why we continually book the SHOT Show not only at the Sands, but in Las Vegas in general. Those asking, as you might assume, have expressed a preference for other locations, most often Orlando, so let’s talk about why the SHOT Show will be in Las Vegas at the Sands for the foreseeable future, through 2025 actually, with this bit of behind-the-scenes information I hope will clarify this issue.
First and foremost is the fact that year after year our post-show surveys tell us that more than 80 percent of our customers—exhibitors and attendees—say they want to be in Las Vegas, and specifically in January. And we get that. Las Vegas is the most exciting event host city in North America.
Have we had successful shows at other venues in the past? Certainly, but keep in mind that the SHOT Show routinely ranks as one of the largest trade shows in the country (and the fifth largest in Vegas). Very simply, we’ve outgrown many of the venues at which we’ve previously appeared. But Las Vegas is one of those few places that can competently accommodate a show of our size, and because our partners there have proven and continue to prove their commitment to putting on a high-quality show, we’ve taken steps to secure long-term contracts with them to lock in cost certainty for our customers and to ensure that quality keeps pace with SHOT Show’s continued success.
Another thing to keep in mind is that of the few venues that can accommodate a trade show of our size, not all are in firearm-friendly cities. I don’t think I need to explain what an enormous disservice to NSSF’s mission and our entire industry it would be to give the millions of dollars that SHOT Show generates for restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions to a city like Chicago.
That brings me to the question of Orlando, the location for which those who don’t like Las Vegas most often express a preference. We love Orlando. It’s a great venue that does indeed have enough space for us, and we certainly understand the desire to head to sunny Florida for a few days in January. Without exception, when past SHOT Shows have been held there attendance drops off 15 percent. That’s not good for us, and it’s certainly not good for our exhibitors and our retailers.
The bottom line is that Las Vegas and the Sands check off nearly all the boxes on a very long and complex list of requirements that are proven to provide a quality experience and high return on investment for the vast majority of those attending SHOT Show each year. Do we want to do better and reach that 100 percent satisfaction rating? Of course we do. Tell us what about Las Vegas, the Sands or SHOT Show is and isn’t working for you and why. We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken. Email your concerns and questions to me at email@example.com and we'll do everything we can to accommodate you.
Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.