It’s November, fall is in the air, Christmas decorations are everywhere…and that can only mean one thing: CHA is right around the corner!
In case you haven’t heard, the show previously known as “CHA Winter” is now called the “CHA Mega Show”. It’s scheduled to take place in Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Convention Center from January 10th-14th, 2014. Registration is now open for attendees, and is open to qualified trade only.
Along with a new name, there’s lot of changes from the last CHA Winter show. Some of the changes that were introduced at the (last) summer show in Las Vegas will be back, and CHA has been working on a plethora of new additions to the show, in what can only be described as a completely revamped conference experience.
Interest in the show appears to be at a level certainly not seen in recent years. Registration was originally scheduled for two weeks ago but unprecedented demand in the first hour it was open caused server issues, leading CHA to pull the plug until they could expand capacity. Registration re-opened 10 days ago with some classes reportedly selling out within minutes.
Travel & Registration
The location of the re-named Mega Show remains in Anaheim at the Convention Center that has become comfortably familiar the past few years to CHA Winter attendees. Once again, the Anaheim Marriott and Hilton Anaheim are the headquarter hotels for the event but there is a new addition as well. The Sheration Park at the Anaheim Resort has been designated the International Headquarter Property, a community gathering point for all of the international attendees at the show. Each international member staying at the Sheraton will receive a special CHA welcome packet.
For 2014, Travel Planners Inc. is the official housing company of the Craft & Hobby Association. They are the only company that can book the official CHA hotel rates negotiated for the Mega Show. The CHA guaranteed rates are good for booking through December 20th (subject to availability at individual properties, which may fill up).
Although the Disney hotels are not taking part as official CHA hotels for the event this year (which I will miss after having a great experience at Paradise Pier last year), CHA attendees can still purchase discounted Disneyland park tickets. Twilight Convention Park Tickets (valid starting at 4pm or 4 hours before park close, whichever is earlier) start at $55, and 1 Day 1 Park convention tickets start at $85 for adults. The one day Park Hopper convention ticket is $123. Other ticket configurations are also available.
Workshop Fees: One of the biggest changes in the education schedule is that there are now charges for workshops, even for CHA members. Prices start at $35 per class for members, and go up to $145. Discounts are available for purchasing multiple workshops (Friday workshops excluded):
- Select 3-5 workshops = 30% off total workshop purchase
- Select 6-8 workshops = 35% off total workshop purchase
- Select 9, or more, workshops = 40% total workshop purchase
Some of these classes, from popular companies like Ranger, have traditionally filled up in just minutes, and there has long been complaints of abuse by large groups of attendees who flood certain classes in hopes of securing generous class kits provided by sponsors. Fees for workshops, while potentially unpopular among some attendees, should put a natural limiter on class enrollment and curb the practice of seats being snatched by attendees with little interest beyond freebie hunting.
Different companies are taking different approaches to the fees for their classes. Ranger, for their insanely popular classes lead by Tim Holtz and Dyan Reavely, is charging a $145 registration fee – but offering a $100 credit voucher redeemable against orders placed in the Ranger booth during the show. Sizzix is taking a similar tack with its $135 workshop. Other companies are offering classes for smaller fees (ranging around $35-90) but with no purchase credit.
Classes on the Show Floor: For attendees who are too busy to leave the show floor, on show days some workshops will be taking place in the Learning Theatre set up right on the show floor. To find these classes, look for classes designated as “Theatre #1″ or two or three. There will also be some Demos taking place in the Maker Space on the show floor.
Expanded Class Offerings: CHA has greatly expanded their class offerings at the Mega Show over past shows. The Friday education day is packed with workshops and business seminars and the rest of the show days offer a wider schedule than ever before as well. Among the notable offerings are the five Friday lunchtime Bootcamps by such luminaries as Kizer & Bender (Reposition Your Competition: How to Become the Number One Store in your Market) that include lunch and 3 hours of instruction.
On the Show Floor
Buyer Power Hours: On Sunday, January 12th and Monday, January 13th, the show floor will only be open to buyers and media from 9am-11am. This change was implemented in Las Vegas and was predictably very popular with buyers, although not so popular with the show attendees who were excluded from the floor.
Exclusive show specials: In recent years, as show attendance has declined, vendors had started to offer show specials to any buyer placing an order around the period of the show. This has lead to buyers questioning the value of attending the show. But at the 2014 Mega Show, vendors will be offering exclusive deals to buyers attending the show that they can’t get through other ordering channels. Lists of the deals will be available each morning at the entrance doors to the show.
Buyer Lounge: All Buyers (not just Pinnacle Club members, like previously) are going to have access to a Buyer’s Lounge on the show floor. Available services will include a beverage station, copier/computer/FAX, and a charging station for depleted gadgets. Concierge Service will also be available to assist in tasks such as turning in orders to booths.
Bead Pavilion: NABA (the North American Bead Association) is co-hosting a Bead Pavilion on the floor at the CHA Mega Show that will include Make-it Take its and Demos, as well as a passport program with a piece of jewelry as the incentive for visiting all of the participants.
Maker Space: The trade show floor is also playing host to a trendy Maker Space, exploring the future of crafts through things such as 3D printers, conductive threads, and other technology, and their intersection with traditional crafts. The space, which is the brainchild of designer (and CHA Board candidate) Sarah Hodsdon, will be hosting classes and hands-on demos throughout the show.
Win A Million: CHA attendees are buzzing about the chance to win a million dollars! Each of the four trade show days, attendees will have a chance to enter a six digit code. Guess correctly and you win $250,000!
Section/Chapter Meetings: These morning and evening events bring together interest groups from within the Association to network and discuss issues of specific concern to them. Monday morning CHA will host a meeting of the Association’s Canadian chapter, and then Monday evening will see events for the Sewing, Beading, Papercrafting and Social Media sections.
Hall of Fame: The Craft & Hobby Association has announced that it is accepting nominations for its brand new hall of fame, to honor members of the industry who are about to retire or recently retired, who have made a significant contribution. Nominations for 2013 are being accepted until December 4th, and the inductees will be honored at the CHA Foundation Gala.
Mega Block Party: This (free) event on Friday night on the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center may be unlike anything that CHA has hosted before at their shows, and brings a bit of Hollywood to the Mega Show. Attendees will arrive on a red carpet (complete with paparazzi) and will be want to be sure to bring their own cameras along for photo opportunities with stars at the celebrity meet and greet. “The Mighty Untouchables” will provide the dance music while attendees can graze from an assortment of food trucks and a cash bar for the evening. There will also be a bunch of interactive fun, like caricature artists and photo booths, to entertain!
CHA Foundation Gala: Ladies, don’t forget to pack your cocktail dress, and gentlemen – bring a coat! CHA is going dressy for the new CHA Foundation Gala, to benefit Cre8time. It takes place at the Hilton Anaheim on Sunday evening. Tickets for the evening of dinner and dancing are $150 (or $1500 for a table). Keynote will be by Jeffrey Sparr, co-founder of mental health advocacy group PeaceLove, who uses painting as therapy for his OCD.
Those are just a few highlights – there’s also an opening keynote by Giovanni Feroce of Alex & Ani, a town hall meeting for CHA members, an International Reception, and Retailer Roundtable Networking sessions – to name just a few!
Are you going to the CHA MEGA Show in January? What events are you excited for?