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2015 was a milestone for the vape community in many ways - Sub-ohm tanks, temp control, and the rapid expansion of vape expos both large and small. It was also a year in which many new vape expos were launched - with varying degrees of success - and a couple of outright failures.
Conceived by Mark Evans Jr, one of the founders of the super successful World Vapor Expo that takes place in Miami every June, the Orlando Vapor Show's first edition on December 11 - 12, 2015 was something of a proof of concept test for Mark and the Orlando Vapor Show Team - and we think it passed with flying colors.
At first glance, Orlando’s central Florida location for a Vape Expo is a bit of a head scratcher. When you dig a little deeper - it actually makes a lot of sense. Orlando is the #2 city in the USA for trade shows after Las Vegas. Florida’s entertainment capital, Orlando, lies just 1 hour from the Atlantic Coast and home to the famed theme parks of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World plus a plethora of great bars and restaurants.
The Orlando Vapor Show is a good example in the industry's shift from mega shows like ECC to smaller regional shows where manufacturers, retailers and vape enthusiasts can come together and create an amazing experience while maintaining level of professionalism that we have come to expect from a well run vape expo.
The International Palms Resort and Conference Center
For this first edition, the Orlando Vapor Show was held in a fairly small location - The International Palms Resort and Conference Center . The space for the show was actually pretty limited - held in what is better described as a ballroom than true exhibit hall and that only allowed approx 30 exhibitors space to display their wares. The event sold out the exhibit space months in advance as Mark and his team have deep roots in the industry and getting brands and distributors on board was the easy part. Delivering a large audience of shop owners/managers + a good showing on the General Admissions times was the real challenge - but Mark and his team had a plan.
With vape expos popping up like weeds across the country, it’s increasingly important for these events to have a strong marketing plan to drive traffic to the show that will deliver what they promise to the exhibitors who pay thousands of dollars for booth space, travel, hotels, etc. The Orlando Vapor Expo Team knew that making their first event a success would be a lot more than “if we build it, they will come” and executed a marketing plan that delivered over 2,500 general admission guests plus 800 B2B (vape shop owners, managers and staff) attendees.
The Orlando Vapor Show marketing plan included months of outreach to B&M shops throughout central and south Florida + a pre show magazine distributed to hundreds of vape shops throughout Florida They also worked with the Florida chapter of SFADA (Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association - http://sfata.org/ ) who organized a bus to bring around 80 people from several area shops to the show. These efforts paid off as the show was already packed by the opening bell at 10AM on Friday December 11th.
The smaller exhibit hall combined with a great turn out meant that most exhibitors were busy as hell from the opening to the closing bell. The Cafe Racer Tasting Bar was as rockin as we’ve ever been for almost all of the 2 days - sampling our award winning Lucky 13 Craft E-Liquid along with Peach Guzzi and Yogurt Bomb - delivering lots of great leads from FL shops and some nice onsite sales to consumers stoked to bring home some of our e-liquid flavor creations.
A clip our Cafe Racer's Brand Ambassador having some fun with her native Jamaican lingo
The social side of the event was impressive. Starting off with a pre-event happy hour on Thursday through two crazy nights with the crews form Vapouround Magazine, Vaping Militia and a host of other exhibitors and industry folks - we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep and drank a few too many sugary cocktails but it was well worth the time to hang with friends new and old.
Next up, Mark and his team will be hosting the 2nd Orlando Vapor Show March 25 and 26, 2016 at the much larger Central Florida Fairgrounds. The exhibit space will be double the size and with the success of the 2015 show, we would expect double the turn-out by shops and vape fans from throughout the Southeast USA.
Other vape show promoters are also adding regional shows - especially ECC under the banner of VPX - The Vape Exhibit, with expos in Detroit and rumor has it, Brooklyn this Spring/Summer. The list of vape shows in 2016 is growing by the day and it will be interesting to see how many the industry, vape shops and vape enthusiasts will support.
Special Thanks: We'd like to thank Donny Moore from Twisted Spoke Cycles in Melbourne Beach, FL for working with us to showcase his bad ass 1972 Green Machine BMW Cafe Racer at the show. We make it a point to work with local custom builders in each region where we do shows to highlight the amazing custom culture creations that these guys do for the love of building cool bikes.