STAMPSHOW Venues - How do we pick them?I love summertime, and not just because of the balmy warm, sunny weather. Summer always means STAMPSHOW, that APS annual "festival of philately," which just seems to get bigger and better under the direction of APS Director of Shows Ken Martin.
This year STAMPSHOW will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan August 4 - 7. You can read all about the pleasures that await you elsewhere in this issue. What I thought I would address is how the sites for STAMPSHOW are selected.
As you might imagine, a lot goes into determining where STAMPSHOW will be held. The Director of Shows and the APS Board take into consideration the size and cost of available convention space; the demographics of the population within a 200-mile radius; the number of APS members within that same radius; the availability, suitability, and cost of nearby hotels; the cost and frequency of public transportation including air and rail; and the availability of volunteers to do the multitude of jobs needed to make the show successful.
The goal is to find a show venue where all of the above conditions are optimal. We know if that happens the visitors to the show will have a memorable event and the dealers who support the show will be successful.
Getting it right is not easy. Ken Martin spends a lot of time and effort getting all the data necessary, visiting convention centers, and talking with vendors so that he can present sufficient data from which the Board can make an informed decision.
The venue itself is of primary importance. STAMPSHOW's space requirements of at least 100,000 square feet puts many cities out of the running. For those cities that do have large enough facilities, other factors may make them unfeasible. Some convention facilities, for example, require APS to guarantee a specific number of hotel room nights beyond our ability to fill. Others have priced the rental of their convention hall higher than the APS can afford to pay.
The APS has a long-standing policy of moving our shows around the country to serve our membership and stamp collectors throughout the USA. Last year's STAMPSHOW was in Sacramento, California. This year it is Grand Rapids, Michigan. Next year it will be Chicago, and in 2007 it will be Portland, Oregon. (See box for future dates of APS STAMPSHOW and Winter Show/ AMERISTAMP EXPO.
Once several viable convention facilities have been found, we next consider those somewhat less tangible but equally important factors. Is there local support? Some cities we might like to consider already have a national World Series of Philately show and have requested that STAMPSHOW not be held there. Other cities do not have sufficient volunteers to make it work. Still other cities do not have the demographics we need for a well-attended, successful show.
Believe it or not, we even consider the weather, an aspect of show management over which we have absolutely no control. The APS has 45,000 members, and each member has a different idea of what constitutes optimal weather. My own feeling is the hotter it is, the better it is. I remember STAMPSHOW in Houston about a dozen years ago. The daily high temperatures were over 100 degrees. The hotter it got outside, the colder it became in the convention center and I had to keep going outside to thaw.
Our winter shows are particularly susceptible to weather whims. Our Winter Show was held in Tucson a few years ago in February in conjunction with the Nordia show. We all expected the weather to be superb, and I suppose it was if you like your cactus with a coating of snow. Conversely, many members thought the Board had lost its collective mind by selecting Portland, Oregon for our winter show. The weather for that show was delightful bright sunshine and mid-60s - perfect for most people.
We take into consideration those aspects that will generate a good attendance at the show, such as convenience and cost of flights, cost and amenities of nearby hotels, accessibility of the highways and cost of parking for those who will be driving, and even other attractions that might be a drawing card for our members.
The APS Board and Director of Shows are diligent in weighing all these factors in selecting cities for STAMPSHOW and our Winter Show/ AmeriStamp Expo, but scarcely has a decision been cast when the complaints and grumbling about the locations begin. Most who live in the East want all the shows to be in the East. Most who live in the West want at least half of the shows to be in the West. Some in the middle want the shows to be held in their backyards, and many dealers want all the shows to be held in either New York City or Chicago.
The best show is one that is crowded with attendees. These attendees will be customers for the dealers, and it is the dealers who support the show with their booth fees. It is this capital that makes all shows possible. Without dealers there is no show.
The underlying philosophy of our stamp shows is that they promote stamp collecting to the general population; and provide APS members opportunities to acquire new material, learn more about the hobby, and socialize.
I hope to see you at STAMPSHOW 2005 in Grand Rapids. And don't forget the international show Washington 2006 in Washington DC May 27 - June 3, 2006.