The conclusion I come to is pretty simple. There are many places on the east coast where a show can be a day trip for a lot of collectors or perhaps one night in a hotel. As soon as you move it out to California it becomes a plane flight plus hotel and rental car. That cost makes it a lot less attractive. Anyone not local tends to skip it.
As a dealer my dilemma is that any show that has a good chance to draw a significant crowd will be on the east coast. That puts it 2,500 miles from me with all the logistical problems of getting models there and back again. At best it severely limits what I can bring. An event on the west coast where I can bring a car load of stuff will have attendance that makes bringing a ton of stuff pointless.
When I heard that SMSC was considering San Diego in 2020 I suggested Claremont instead because the previous San Diego event was such a low turnout event. I would probably go but I would probably only bring a box or two of the latest stuff. If the meeting is in Claremont anyone coming could check out my entire stock plus all the second hand stuff yet to be listed. I'm 15 minutes from Ontario airport and traffic here is nothing like what you'll get in LA. But there is nothing maritime here and fewer things to see than in San Diego.
However even an event here which would be essentially a 1250Ships Open House might not be a big draw. When I proposed it I did so with the caveat that I would want to poll my customers to see if there would be major interest before committing to hosting the event. If folks are not interested in coming then I'm better off driving down to San Diego for the day rather than putting in the significant work involved in hosting a show.
George mentioned getting producers to attend to increase attendance. Unfortunately many of the producers that have come out in the past are now old enough to be physically unable to travel. On that list I'd include Rudi and Egbert Kraus, Norbert Bröcher and Dave Love. All of them have attended one or more US meetings in the past. The younger producers tend to be concentrated on modern civilian vessels which are not the bread and butter of the US marketplace. Unless they have another reason to come to the US (like Matti Bröcher who has been a great supporter of our meetings) they are not likely to see a strong business reason to come.
To me it seems like the best location for a meeting would be somewhere on the east coast. If I was in charge (which I'm not!) I'd look for a mid-level hotel with inexpensive meeting space available on the weekends. I'd want it to be close to highways and with lots of free or cheap parking. Ideally it should have an airport close by with good connections across the entire country. If the hotel did free airport pickup that would be even better to save rental car costs. Make sure there is a restaurant close by for a Saturday evening dinner.
The one thing you would not necessarily get from such a location is nautical stuff to visit. However for anyone "local" they are unlikely to care that much- the models are the draw- and the success or failure of the event from the attendance standpoint will be those local collectors who can drive out for the day. Those willing to fly in from across North America will come no matter where the event is located.
And on the east coast I'd be reaching out to Alnavco and begging them to participate. Having them on hand in Norfolk was one of the reasons that show had such great attendance. If dealer involvement is important they should be included.
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