I really like your idea of doing your show in a venue other than a hotel. Kudos for that. I'm guessing that the listening rooms will be a little better suited for audio (just a guess). Hotel rooms are so bad in many ways. But, hotels are important for one very obvious reason: If I'm coming into town for your show, where do I stay? I couldn't find that info on your website.
You've nailed it in that the rooms are more realistic in size and in materials as to what you may use with your own system. My fear, although a good one, is that if the show grows that I will likely have to give in to the hotel scene route. Try http://www.sleepinn.com/?promo=gsi159 and use their Rockville, MD location. I am in the process of working out a deal with them to get folks a slight price reduction. It may be inexpensive but have put several family members there for the night and have fared well. Hope to see you at the event.
For me it's about how many different systems I can EXPERIENCE in a weekend. I know I can't hear them all, but if I have a good selection, it makes it better. I like to sit down for a good 10 or 15 minutes at each one to really experience something I've never heard. I love it when exhibitors let me play my own stuff, too. A lot of them won't let you do that.
Since this is my first year and is a relatively small venue, 20 rooms, it should be possible to see and hear them all. The one thing that may derail your tour is the BBQ vendor who is coming along with their quality adult beverage lineup! I will be sure to pass along your comments to the audio vendors. Thanks.
For me - it's always the ATMOSPHERE AND MUSIC, first and foremost. I get so tired, and have been so tired of hearing the same Diana Krall (YES - she is great), Stevie Ray Vaughn (also luv him, but..) and Patty Barber tracks! I was psyched to turn people onto new music at RMAF last year; live Jason Mraz, Dirty Projectors, Bloc Party, and Blitzen Trapper to name a few.
I want a show to be welcoming of the youth market, and those outside the bizness - NOT be a click, an elitist collective of guys with their d---s on the table. After all, it's stereo gear we're displaying and talkin about!
That said - I'm happy to support ANY show that brings in new blood, and cutting edge products.
Good rooms, decent diversity/number of exhibitors/rooms (nothing worse than seeing the whole show in a couple of hours), ease of access, air-conditioning, friendly exhibitors (just love entering rooms where no one will talk to you - and we are the press), literature on what is on exhibit in the room, ability to play one's own music, good restaurants within walking distance, a good number in attendance, show hours that are practical, and a good bar to hang out later that night.
ThanX Jon - oh, and I am down w/ Dave's idea of being able to play your own music! Too often manufacturers make special accommodations (close off the room) for those of us in the biz - and I think it should ALL be open - but I do understand the fear of recordings sounding like shite.
I really dug seeing the CanJam at RMAF last year - and I hope to see that again!
In addition to all of the previous suggestions, how about not opening the door and blasting music at full volume to try and increase drop ins (usually to the opposite effect)? Also, a simple placard giving the name of the company and exhibitors present, name of the product, suggested retail (if known) and a few bulleted product highlights to guide the listener would be nice. Not talking loudly (vendors and press) while others are listening is another point. I must be the only one to admit it, but I always appreciate the simple refreshments that some put out. Really, it all comes down to presenting a welcoming experience. Great gear and great attitudes go hand in hand. Have to say, though, that most exhibitors do this, especially the successful ones, surprisingly enough.
The go with Dean and Michael... love the rooms that feature music played so loudly that it overloads the room and ruins any chance of enjoying the music... espiecally so when you are in the room next door or down the hall. And then the rooms that will only play a determined set list to show off their products - of which raises all sorts of questions. Oh, and rooms that have set times/demonstrations... sorry, but you will need to come back in 20 mins... uh sorry, but in 20 mins I will be doing something else that does not include being here in 20 mins.
There are a few nice wine bars and brew pubs nearby and definately know the way to them so will show you folks the way. There is also a well stocked bar in the hotel that will hold you over until the end of each day.