March/April 2011
Volume 31 No. 2

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My Two Cents

At the past NATPE in Miami Beach prior to the start of the market, I tried to remind Rick Feldman, the organization's president, about the problem with the hotel elevators, and he flat out told me not to tell him how to run his business.

But now I'm going to do just that, strengthened by the fact that the following idea of mine was tested on several NATPE exhibitors at the hotel's Tresor tower and was considered acceptable by all.

By the way, at this past NATPE, VideoAge was criticized for not reporting in its Daily the problems with the elevators. My answer was that, first it was old news since we've written about it starting last April and, second, everyone attending NATPE knew about it. Therefore, reporting it in the NATPE Daily would have been redundant and would not have helped anyone.

Nonetheless, the underlying criticism remained, possibly fueled by the fact that VideoAge was credited (or blamed, according to different points of view) for NATPE's move to Miami Beach. This fact was acknowledged by Feldman during a press conference. Tellingly, even before the market started, VideoAge was warned by organizers not to be our usual self and write critical stories since we were one of the reasons that NATPE moved to Florida.

Now, let's go back to the subject of how to improve NATPE and eliminate its decades-old elevator problems. Attentive readers perhaps noticed that on Day One (Sunday, the day before the market started) VideoAge Daily at NATPE ran a cartoon picturing a NATPE representative still going to hell despite the fact that the market "got a 67 percent approval rating." The point that VideoAge anticipated was that NATPE organizers were going to do a great, but not perfect job, with clear reference to the elevators.

After the disastrous morning of opening day, NATPE organizers acted upon my suggestion of utilizing both the ground and lobby levels of the elevator stops to improve traffic flow, and Feldman ultimately acknowledged that the suggestion was useful.

Good as it was, we knew that it wasn't, however, a permanent or even an acceptable solution, but rather a band-aid. One had to feel sorry for the people that were on vacation spending a fortune at a four-star hotel with elevator service akin to that of bed-and-breakfast accommodations.

Attendees at NATPE in Miami Beach must have noticed that the Fontainebleau hotel has a great conference area on two easily accessible floors with long and wide corridors and many rooms of various sizes on each side that can easily accommodate exhibitors. In this case NATPE could offer the suite environment without the elevator problem. Plus, it could bring the "suites" closer to the "floor" (where booths are located), creating a fantastic traffic flow. In addition, this arrangement would eliminate the long walk between the Tresor tower in the south side and the floor space in the north side of the Fontainebleau.

Each corridor, located at the Versailles wing of the hotel, on the north side of the NATPE registration area and just around the corner from the exhibition floor is served by escalators on both sides of the corridors and by elevators. The well-received cabanas by the pool can offer added space to the big spenders, plus the docks on the water canal across from the hotel can easily accommodate hospitality suites on boats, Cannes style (NATPE will have to provide crossing guards, since the docks are across a very trafficked road).

NATPE was first born in 1964 as a suite-only market. It later moved to phase two with big stands and a few hospitality suites at the nearby hotels. It went back to mostly suite style during its third phase, which introduced the elevator problem. Now it is time to move forward to phase four by introducing the conference area as exhibition space, eliminating both the elevator and the stand problems.

A final note about the floor: There were too many little stands. It definitely needs the attraction of a few mid-size distributors if it is to retain a modicum of relevance.

Dom Serafini