LAS VEGAS – Clustered in a warren of small conference rooms on the ground floor of the Sands Exposition Center are the Business Suites where a dozen companies have chosen to hold appointment-only meetings with customers.
Some of the studios—notably Wicked and Anabolic—also have booths upstairs, but the rest have opted for a suites-only presence at this year’s AEE, taking shelter from the hurly burly of the Expo floor. The universal reason for preferring suites to booths, reiterated often, is that they’re “more conducive to doing business.”
On the Expo’s first morning business was proceeding by fits and starts, but it was definitely proceeding. Metro Interactive’s general manager Christian Mann, New Sensations owner Scott Taylor, and Diabolic Digital owner Gregg Alan were all deeply engrossed in what looked like a nonstop series of negotiations.
Around 10:30 a.m., Wicked’s Bonnie Kail and Vouyer Media’s Tony Cleary, sharing a room, were still waiting for their first appointments. “Rule Number One: don’t make appointments before noon in Las Vegas,” Kail said, only half-jokingly.
The B2B suite, she said, would give her a chance to concentrate on sales, since the huge Wicked booth with its dazzling contingent of contract stars, is Mecca for fans, making it a less than ideal place for meetings.
“We thought we needed a quiet atmosphere, where we could send out for lunch, where we could get intimate with our buyers—and that a place where you can actually hear yourself think would be more conducive to doing business,” she said. “We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of customers.”
"This is basically a fan show, and it needs to remain that way,” said Cleary, “but we need a place for our customers without the constant distractions of the main floor.”
“I love it down here,” yelled Greg Alves, Zero Tolerance owner, shuttling between what looked like a nonstop round of appointments.
Joey Wilson, of ZT affiliate Third Degree Films, added, “It’s great to be in a more intimate setting without having people pulling at you every which way. It’s not as much of a necessity to be on the floor as it is to go one on one with buyers.”
A second visit after noon showed a significant increase in activity. The Pulse-Club Jenna-Spice Studios space, manned by industry sales legend Howard Levine, showed signs of life with Levine’s first appearance. He is splitting his time between the B2B suites and the big Reality Kings booth upstairs.
“I’m back and forth,” he said. “We’re doing a few meetings down here for Pulse and Club Jenna. I like it down here.”
Anabolic Digital owner Christopher Alexander said he’d know later just how well the suites idea was working for him. But, he said, “We’ve had a couple of really awesome productive meetings so far.”
Just outside of the suites area, on the edge of the main B2B section, the Pure Play Media booth looked like a smaller version of its main floor booth last year. A sales rep explained that since several of the companies it now distributes, such as Naughty America and Silver Sinema, have substantial booth presence on the floor, they didn’t feel the need to be there themselves.
He echoed the common refrain: “It’s easier here to go one on one with our customers.” But, he added, “I’d like to be on the floor. I miss the girls.”
Later in the day, Metro’s Mann summed up: “From the business point of view, the suites are very successful. We’ve been able to schedule meetings and focus on sales and promotions with retailers and distributors in a decidedly calmer atmosphere.”
But, he said, he left spaces in his schedule so he could walk the main floor and get a sense of the consumer buzz.
“This year we decided to focus on our distributor and retail customers in a B2B situation. Next year we may decide to focus again on the consumer.”
Pictured: Bonnie Kail