In truth, we don't go to any of the national shows anymore. The reason is, bluntly, cost. This isn't WPPI's fault. It is the industry that has grown up around these events. The various costs for drayage (moving stuff in and out of the convention center) and electricity and booth construction, moving, setup and tear down. Costs for staffing; hotels, restaurants, getting to and from the convention, etc. And entertainment costs while we are at the event, the party, dinners, etc. all add up. Last year total costs for WPPI came close to $200,000. We tried hard last year to maximize every dollar spent. We tracked every lead and kept track of all purchases related to WPPI. We looked at these figures with the most aggressively positive eye we could and even then we found that there was simply no way we could justify the expense.
A lot of people have said we could be there anyway. We could have a hospitality suite, etc. It's a personal thing but frankly I think that's kind of sleazy. WPPI has spent an enormous amount of money promoting the conference. They've created the event and built the excitement, so to 'piggyback' on the event in a way that doesn't benefit them feels disingenuous. It's just not something I wanted to do personally - or associate my company with. This is not to judge those who've done this (and many have done it for many years), although one would hope it might at least give them pause ... (Ha! I thought 'Paws' for sec and then had to shake that thought out of my head!)
If we could have we would have done the party. Studio54 at WPPI is a tradition we would like to repeat in the future. Since it's an official WPPI event, the organizers get credit from the hotel which defrays some of their expenses. This year the club was closed. There's always next year. We'll see, maybe we'll be back.
We're refocusing Pictage's regional marketing efforts on smaller shows and gatherings. Home grown efforts that attract groups of professional photographers from specific regions are very interesting to us. We find that the content value is high (people bring in what they want to hear) and the lower operating costs mean we can reach more people for dramatically less money.
I'm hoping that at some point in the future we'll be back at WPPI. I miss being there and I think Pictage should be there. I just haven't been smart enough yet to figure out how to make it happen. George and I keep talking about it. If we can figure it out, we will. In the meantime I'm hoping the folks who are there have a great time. Know we miss you and we look forward to seeing you around the country as the year moves along.