It doesn't seem fair. We're only just recovering from the summer colds we all caught at the Florida Internext Expo and it's already time to prepare for the winter bugs laying in wait in Las Vegas. Life can be cruel that way. Luckily, Webmasters are a hearty lot, and all pre-show indicators are forecasting a monster show, conspicuous not just in the number of attendees and exhibitors, but more significantly in the immensity of the booths that some of the bigger players apparently plan on building.
"Big" is back, and unless there are last second changes, not since Hanco took the industry by storm with its double-decker whale of a booth at Vegas 2000 will there be as imposing a physical presence of exhibitors as in Hall A of the Sands Convention Center this coming January. Of course, we haven't seen any booth designs, so we could be wrong, but even if people are buying all that square footage just to fill it with couches, the trade show floor is going to look and sound awesome. Suffice to say, the adult Internet is once again about to prove - despite a still weak economy, a gluttony of porn, and another vicious twist of the policy vise by VISA - just how indefatigable and resilient it can be.
"With a little over two months to go, this show is on track to be the largest adult Webmaster event in over two years," says Internext trade show manager, Renee Johnson, who definitely sees a trend. "People are going big again. We're seeing the colossal booths we saw in past shows, like the January 2001 convention, which was our biggest show yet in terms of square footage."
Most of the big companies will be prominently returning to the show floor, such as Like Whoa (www.likewhoa.com), which will be exhibiting in a football field-like 50' x 70' space. Other leading companies that will be competing for eyeballs in a big way include Candid Cam (www.candidcam.com), Max Cash (www.maxcash.com), SilverCash (www.silvercash.com), and CE (www.cybererotica.com), to name just a few. It all helps make the case that perhaps the scaled-down Florida show did succeed in unleashing the exhibitor Dogs of War. "Yes," agrees Johnson, "simply by alleviating the burden and expense of doing two big shows a year, the smaller summer show helped people get excited about the Vegas show again."
"We're going to have a really kick-ass booth for AC Pay (www.acpay.com)," says Adult Check's Brad Estes. "With all the new regulations from VISA, people are looking for new providers, and AC Pay is going to be there in a big way, with plenty of people on hand to answer everybody's questions. We're not going to throw any parties that we know of yet, though; our focus is going to be on attending the other parties and just being a presence at the trade show, because we know that each year, at each show, it gets to be a little bit more business-like."
There are several new exhibitors, too, including PSW Billing (www.pswbilling.com), Web Entertainment Group (www.wedgecash.com), Spy.TV (www.spy.tv), Xahead (www.xahead.com), Babylon Entertainment, (www.babylonentertainment.com), and LargeCash.com/BigCockContent.com (www.bigcockcontent.com), to name a few. Some are new to the scene, and others have been around and are now deciding to get their feet wet, like Large Cash/Big Cock.
"We're giving it a whirl," says sales manager and head advertising consultant Kristin, who is personally attending her first Internext show. "We got a large enough booth so that Large Cash will be on one side and Big Cock the other side." That sounds like an impressive booth. The companies are owned by Edmonton, Canada-based Emit Corporation. One is an affiliate program, the other, content. "We're also looking into co-sponsoring some parties," adds Kristin.
As of this date, a little over two months before the convention, few parties had been scheduled. Other than Hustler (www.hustler.com) throwing a party at the House of Blues on Monday night, Jan. 6, and Max Cash doing the GameWorks party the second night of the show, most everything else was apparently on the drawing boards. But that doesn't mean that some other very special events aren't being planned. Indeed, they are.
Lightspeed Media (www.lightspeedcash.com), for one, is upping the go-cart racing ante by a few hundred miles per hour. "We're doing the biggest thing we've ever done; putting up 80 Webmasters in stunt airplanes," says Steve from Lightspeed Media. "We found a Phoenix company made up of a group of ex-Top Gun fighter pilots, and they have these two-seater airplanes fitted with video cameras that you go up in. They do loops, cartwheels, tumbles, rollovers, spins; whatever you want. It'll be going on throughout the whole show; 80 people in groups of six culled from our top affiliates. We'll be running a contest in November and December, and will also be giving a few [seats] away during the show. We're probably going to be doing a party as well, but we don't have that nailed down yet."
And the Adult Chamber of Commerce (www.adultchamber.com) will be announcing the winner of its "Webmaster of the Year" contest, which has been ongoing throughout 2002. "We are the primary sponsors of the Webmaster of the Year contest," says Marc Laffer of Adult Chamber. "It started at the beginning of 2002, and we have a Webmaster chosen every month, and it will culminate at the show with the choosing of the Webmaster of the Year."
So even though the show is still somewhat amorphous, looming out in the desert like a humongous mirage, as the date approaches we expect it to solidify into something far larger than even the sum of its parts.