The Craft & Hobby Association announced today that the CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show (still known as CHA Winter to many attendees) will leave its longtime home in Anaheim after the upcoming 2016 show. Instead, the 2017 show will be on January 19th-23rd, 2017 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
In addition to the new venue, the show is shifting dates. The 2017 dates in Phoenix are two weeks later into the month than the Anaheim dates have been the past several years, with the 2016 show floor opening on January 9th. The early January dates have been a large source of complaints since CHA started using them in 2012, causing many show attendees to have to work straight through the holidays on show prep without being able to enjoy time with their families.
The early January dates also have caused problems with scheduling pre-show promotions for new releases. Running blog previews and promotions the week the show starts on the current calendar has meant many buyers will already have departed for the show and miss social media promotions. Moving back a week pushes the promotions into the holidays, when many people are off of social media entirely and promotions have to compete with the noise of holiday celebrations for attention. Currently, to ensure the best possible ground for planting promotions on, CHA exhibitors really need to look at mid-December, nearly a month before the show – often an impractical timeline given production schedules. The new dates in later January will provide a window post-holiday and pre-show for the running of product previews that is more practical for production schedules of products and project samples.
However, even more important than all of those reasons in the date change discussion are the conflicts with other shows in January. The TNNA show put on by The National Needlearts Association in San Diego has directly conflicted with the CHA show for several years now, causing headaches for exhibitors and buyers in that sector of the crafts industry. The CHA shift to later in the month will alleviate that schedule clash.
It’s not all good news in the schedule department, however, with the 2017 date change. The Creativeworld show in Frankfurt, Germany has been attended by an increasing number of CHA members in recent years as U.S. companies have sought to expand into the international market. That show traditionally takes place the last weekend in January. The 2017 Phoenix dates for CHA probably will mean a very short turnaround time for companies and attendees doing both shows, likely requiring some to go directly from Phoenix to Frankfurt.
A close look at the dates reveals another change for the 2017 show. Rather than ending on Tuesday, the 2017 show is ending on Monday after two pre-show education days and three show days, down from the traditional four. The past few years the show floor has been increasingly quiet on the shortened Tuesday show day, a source of much complaining among exhibitors. Whether a three day show will fix that, or just turn the third day into the slow day instead of the fourth day, remains to be seen.
While the CHA membership has been increasingly vocal the past few years in requesting change in the way the organization’s shows are held, the organization’s membership also doesn’t have a history of accepting change well. The moves of the former CHA Summer show from Chicago to first Orlando and then to Las Vegas in its dying days were met with near outrage. The move of the CHA Winter show from Anaheim to downtown Los Angeles for a year in 2011 caused vocal malcontent. It is into this conundrum that CHA walked as it announced this move.
And predictably based on the history of these issues, the second guessing – and discontent – started almost immediately after the announcement: displeasure that the show will no longer be in Anaheim, calls for the show to be someplace more convenient than Phoenix, dislike of Phoenix itself.
Is Phoenix a bad venue? Is Phoenix the wrong venue? A look at the list of criteria that are necessary for locating the CHA Mega Show reveals that CHA’s venue options are fairly limited. The show requires a venue of a fairly large size with a large number of affordable hotel rooms immediately around it, and close access to a large airport served by multiple airlines for affordable airfare and easy access for international visitors. A non-unionized venue in a right to work state is preferred so that exhibitors will not be forced to pay for as many services and will be able to do more of their own set-up labor, making exhibiting more affordable. A warm weather venue is needed to avoid the risk of weather disrupting the show. The venue needs to be affordable. And after all of those criteria are met, the selected facility has to have available dates.
It’s a short list of facilities that meets CHA’s show criteria. CHA has already hosted shows in many of them in the past decade or so (Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Dallas), and none have seemed to be the magic solution to make everyone happy. And that is the dark secret of all of this. CHA is never going to make everyone happy. There’s always going to be complaining, because everyone wants the show to be where they are, and everyone can’t have the show where they are. No matter what they do, CHA is going to make some people unhappy.
Did I like it when the CHA Summer show was in Orlando, a two hour drive from my home? Of course. But that has happened once in the eleven years I’ve been writing Scrapbook Update. I’m used to having to travel, and I accept it as a necessary part of my budget and of doing business. I’ll miss the familiar venues in Anaheim and the visits to Disneyland, but in the big picture it matters little to me whether when I take off from Florida my plane lands in California or Arizona. So in January I’ll say a fond farewell to Anaheim, sneak one last peek at Sleeping Beauty castle, and set my sights for the deserts of Arizona in 2017.