With everything going on lately, there just hasn’t been the time to get a proper cigar review ready. So no tower of burn this week. In its place, I’ve compiled some thoughts and observations on the trade show and how it went.
The Overall Scene
Months before tickets were booked for this year’s trade show, the speculation was that attendance would be pretty light. And after a very well attended Gala Reception, the foot traffic on the floor seemed to support that. I don’t have an exact count of the attendance, but anecdotally, I heard that a number of people decided to attend at the last minute. So it seems fair to speculate that the head count wasn’t quite as lows as anticipated. Supporting this, several manufacturers informed me that this turned out to be a very good year for them. The phrase I kept hearing was, “the people who came, came to buy.”
New Orleans is the same as it ever was. Hot, humid, and chock full of places to overindulge in every way imaginable. I elected to stick with cigars, food, drink and music, and even that was biting off more than I could chew. (It took me a few days to recover once I returned home.) One of the highlights of my extracurricular activities has to be the evening spent following the live music from bar to bar on Frenchman Street with Frank Herrera (of La Caridad Del Cobre cigars), Skip Martin and Joe “Doc Fuego” Amos.
As was the case last year, the place to be at 4 o’clock was the Miami/La Aurora booth. Every day at that time they turned up the latin music, popped the tops on the Presidente bottles, and the crowd gathered. And a little later, after dinner, you could count on seeing many of the same people in the crowd at Don Leoncio on Canal Street. No matter what your plans were for the evening, the chances were always good you’d spend part of it at the unofficial cigar bar of IPCPR.
The New Cigars
It wasn’t long before I picked up on a theme at this year’s trade show. Many manufacturers were opting to extend existing lines instead of introducing completely new cigars. New sizes, often 54 ring gauge or larger, and alternate wrappers were the name of the game. (La Traviata Maduro, Illusione HL Claro and Maduro, and the Jesus Fuego 777 Zero to name a few.) And the manufacturers that were rolling out new sticks, generally weren’t as prolific as in previous years. Lower MSRP’s were also reoccurring theme.
Aside from the many beautiful women at the trade show, the big eye catcher was Gran Habano’s Corojo #5 “El Gigante”. It’s a real smokable cigar weighing in at 2,500 pounds, 19 feet in length and 1920 ring gauge. It’s something you just have to see. And you will have your chance, because it’s going on tour around the country before it’s fitted with it’s custom made smoking cap. (100 or more lucky people will smoke it simultaneously through hookah hoses.)
One of the more interesting cigar concepts I saw on the floor was Jesus Fuego’s Origen “soft pack”. Actually, I saw this the evening before the show when we bumped into Jesus at Don Leoncio. He told us he had something he wanted us to try and pulled a paper pouch out of his shirt pocket. Inside were small cheroot-like cigars. I immediately loved the packaging, and the cigars were great as well.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I love that Dion Giolito of Illusione is making a candela-wrapped Holy Lance (“HL Claro”). That was easily the biggest surprise of the show. If anybody can pull off a smokable candela, he’d be the guy I’d bet on.
Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour
The Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour (or #TBOTLCH as it is referred to on twitter) was an incredible success. Everyone I talked to about the event spoke glowingly of it, and began to speculate as to how big it will be next year. Some going as far as offing to help us pick a venue. So by all accounts, it was great herf, but more importantly, it achieve it’s other main objective. It got a large selection of new cigars into the hands of the people who will review and talk about them. A great big thanks to all our sponsors, and to Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar for hosting us!
The Press Under Review
On the last day of the show, the future of press involvement with IPCPR was the topic of several discussions I had. It seems that someone, or some group attending on press passes this year was disruptive to the business taking place on the floor, leading to a serious internal debate on the part of IPCPR and it’s members. Some are urging for the elimination of press passes all together but others favor ideas like paid press memberships, or a more thorough screening and approval process. Whatever the outcome, we’re likely to see changes made to the process of getting a pass in the future.
A Public Day At IPCPR?
An idea that was floating around the floor, supported by several manufacturers, was a day where the show would be open to the public. (In fact, I was specifically asked to mention this idea.) Much like a Famous Cigar Expo, a CigarFest or a Big Smoke, the floor would be open to paid ticket holders who would be able to meet their favorite manufacturers, check out the incredible booths and smoke some great cigars. It’s an interesting idea, and it would be the king of all consumer cigar events, but it remains to be seen if it would work logistically.
Though the foot traffic was a little light, and the Twitter Brother of the Leaf Cocktail Hour had us scrambling to get our interviews in, it was still a great show for us. I’ll definitely miss New Orleans next year (Don Leoncio and Dos Jefes epsecially), but I’m really looking forward to Las Vegas. We’ll probably look back on this year and think about how laid back it all was. I just hope we’ll still be able to get press passes!
15 thoughts on “IPCPR 2010: The Week In Review”
I wasn’t aware that anyone disrupted business on a Press Pass. I’m hoping it leads to a more diligent screening process. Between a flight and hotel, attending IPCPR is already expensive enough. I don’t want to have to put up even more out of pocket cash for press membership.
I heard about it on Friday, and was assured it wasn’t us, and got the impression that it was someone who was new to the show. Apparently they didn’t realize that purpose of IPCPR is for manufacturers and retailers to do business, and that press are ONLY welcome if they don’t cause problems.
Anyway, I agree, I hope it’s a more thorough review process instead of a paid membership. I’ve actually volunteered to assist and have offered some ideas on some prerequisites. Crossing my fingers. I’m hoping one bad apple won’t spoil the press barrel for the decision makers.
Agree with Walt. Nice overview.
Well, IPCPR was already more restrictive with passes to the show this year for retailers. Fewer passes per shop were allowed and there was a charge for certain passes, which had not been the case previously. That was an attempt to cut down on the moochers who beg passes from shops and other invitees who go simply to fill up bags with free samples but have no buying power whatsoever. They add nothing to the business being conducted there and I for one was glad to see IPCPR at least try to clamp down on what is essentially a wasted and costly pass for the manufacturers, not to mention the moochers who embarrass the shops they obtained passes from. And if someone with a “press” pass was disruptive at all, I have no problem with IPCPR dealing with it in a similar fashion.
And call me a stick in the mud if you must, but I’m not in favor of opening up the show to the public, either. That’s what the Big Smoke, CigarFest, local shop events, etc., are for. The trade show is a business meeting between manufacturers and retailers. I mean, how many professionals, regardless of what they do, would like the general public wandering around in the middle of their business meetings?
Based on what I was told, this didn’t sound like a case of press pass moochers (though perhaps they were guilty of that as well). Apparently the people in question treated the show as if the business taking place was secondary to their interviews, video work, or whatever they were doing. My guess is they interrupted business between retailer and manufacturers on more than one occasion and were arrogant about it.
Regarding mooching, part of the rules we have to agree to to get a press pass is the stipulation that we are not allowed to ask for samples. I know that won’t stop everyone from doing it, but at least they know that if they do, they might be ejected from the show.
And like the retailer passes, the numbers of passes available to a given outlet has been reduced in recent years.
Completely understand about the public access. I think the idea is to make it happen on the last day (or even last half day) of the show or whenever it will be least disruptive to business. It sounds like an interesting idea, but I’m not sure if, or how it could work.
I don’t see them eliminating press passes, but I think a good screening process will help.
Maybe require them to be around and active for X amount of time.
Maybe have a manufacturer vouch for them?
There will always be douchebags that get in and want to just get free stuff. It is better to try and control it as much as possible than eliminate the ability for people to get press passes who are there trying to do real journalism.
The public day could be interesting. They would need to extend the show for another day if that were to happen. Not sure how retailers would feel about that. I know the general public would like to be able to meet some of the well known people behind their favorite cigars. If it was a ticket they bought, that could help offset the cost of another day. Interesting ideas.
Brian, I hope you didn’t think I was calling the press people moochers, it’s the hangers-on from shops that I was referring to. IPCPR has attempted to deal with that through limited passes or pass fees. More than likely the press folks who caused problems were third parties whose interests were not part of business being conducted. For example, I was told that Matt Booth has a film crew following him around for six months to document something. I have no way of knowing if this crew caused the problems but you can see how a group from outside the industry might step on some toes.
The public day as an extra day might work, I suppose, once business gets done the first three days. It would be the one time when virtually everyone who’s anyone in the cigar manufacturing business would be in the same spot at the same time. A chance to visit with them like that would be a dream come true for real cigar enthusiasts.
Nah, I didn’t think you were calling us all a bunch of moochers. LOL But I do think that some do attend with that intent. Or at least they have in the past. But I agree, the hangers on are a far bigger problem in that regard. I think that’s part of the motivation for the public day. They’ll get in one way or the other, why not make it official, get them to pay for admission, and get them out from under peoples feet while business is being transacted.
The public invite is a bad idea. Manufacturers and retailers have pricing to protect. There was a distraction from some people who took the liberty to try and force interviews. We who work the show from the manufacturing side have enough trouble tending to all our customers let alone the “can I get a interview” guy. This is our business and we do a large portion of it at that show. When I say this is our business I mean, this is how we pay our bills, put food on our tables and support our families. Courtesy from those who are not in the BUSINESS should not have to be asked for. Manufacturers do events all over the country, all the time, giving away countless cigars. IPCPR is not about the consumer. It is were we conduct business once a year. Having that covered by a select press is fine, but we send the retailer back home with enough samples and stories for the consumer. And the do it on the last day thing, everyone from the industry is so burnt out at that point, the last thing they want to do is one big giant event…
Great point. I was on the floor the last day of the show, and while it actually was a manufacturer that mentioned the idea to me, I could tell there were a lot of people working the booths who were very ready to wrap it up and get home. A big influx of excited consumers at that point would have been too much, no doubt.
I’m not sold on the idea being a good one, I’m just putting it out there because it is an interesting idea. My guess is most feel like you do, and it won’t happen.
I might get crucified for my comments but in the spirit of open-minded comments, here are my thoughts.
Although I think Stogiereview crew and few others did an amazing job covering the show (video / photographs / tweets), some other blogger’s performance was just ‘average.’ Reading through few other blogs, I felt like I was reading a boiler-plate summaries. Those that stepped up to the plate and hit the pavement – KUDOS ! Now, let’s take the performance and apply it to TBOTL event. I think Walt or Brian have mentioned that they have stopped counting after 120. Were there 120 bloggers / press contributors at the show or was TBOTL event open to ‘hanger-on’ as well ? I think asking manufacturers for TBOTL was a gutsy move. Yes, some of you bloggers / press deserve it for all your contributions but what about those 100 other people that have joined TBOTL event ? What did they do ? Should we call them ‘moochers’ ? What about people on the Twitter who couldn’t attend TBOTL event but kept asking every 5 minutes for their cut ? – pretty sad if you ask me. Should we call them ‘moochers’ ? Some bloggers have an excellent relationship with the manufacturers and when those agree to donation, by default, they have set the tone and expectation for others to do the same, hence ~100+ cigar bags. If this 100+ cigar bag donation continues, your TBOTL event will have 100+ press-pass wannabes and 200+ ‘hanger-ons’ in Vegas – I guarantee !!!
In my opinion, to keep this drama free, the following needs to be in place for next year and going forward: no public passes, limited press-pass with better screening, no samples to press, no TBOLT donations.
If the manufacturers decide that their ROI is insufficient from providing samples to new media, they will stop. It’s really a pretty easy problem.
I would argue companies like EPC, La Caridad del Cobre, 262, etc., feel that they got a pretty good deal from the few cigars they contributed. I know I’ve ordered over 30 boxes of cigars from TBOTLCH contributers myself for our store. Solely because of TBOTLCH? No. But it did influence me quite a bit. If a manufacturer realizes the direction media is moving, it sure makes me feel more confident that they’re gonna be here for a while.
Just my humble opinion, 2cents, whatever……
Did anybody get to see the owner of Avalon getting thrown out on his a** by security?
Let each manufacturer decide if they want to hand out samples or not. Not all do, and that’s OK. Like many of you, we purchase the majority of cigars that we review. We don’t “deserve” anything from the manufacturers. I am all in favor of having stricter requirements to qualify as press, but not the least bit interested in paying to attend and then playing second to all the other ‘business’. As for the moochers, they exist everywhere in all corners of society. If you catch them violating the standards of conduct (we had to sign them as an organization) then don’t allow them back next year.
Attending IPCPR on a press badge is a privilege not a right, and as such it has to be earned.