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It's been 3 weeks since the ECC Expo was a wrap and the vapor is still settling in Southern California.
The event was a milestone for the fast growing vape industry with eLiquid + Hardware manufacturers, Vape Distributors and key people from thousands of vape specialty retailers rubbing shoulders for 4 days along with tens of thousands of vape enthusiasts who came during the open consumer days on Saturday and Sunday. Total estimated attendance over the 4 day event was 100,000.
With ECC Expo taking place in the heart of Southern California's "Vape Valley", many of the exhibitors pulled out all the stops and went all out on booth designs and set ups. Having a West Coast major vape event also makes it easier for overseas buyers and distributors attending from Asia - which is also experiencing rapid growth as people in countries like Indonesia, China and Japan are quickly moving away from combustible tobacco to vaping.
With any event at this scale, you have to expect some snafu's that will ruffle a few feathers.
In addition to hosting ECC at a new venue with 5 separate halls, mother nature decided to turn up the heat with a major heat wave that pushed daytime temps above 100 degrees for all 4 days of the show. This definitely added to the frustrations as thousands had to wait in line for up to 2 hours to gain access. There's got to be a faster way to check people's credentials/ID/registration confirmation and allow them access and I'm sure that this is a high priority for future ECC/Vape events.
With the event spread out over 5 Halls many reported frustrations in finding brands/exhibitors or even knowing that there were 5 halls to check out. Many attending didn't download the ECC App and were without any kind of map or guide to help them navigate. A simple paper map (vs the app only) would have been a big plus.
For exhibitors, many companies were not notified of their confirmed booth location until the weekend before the event, and some companies found out that they were not even placed inside one of the halls, but rather outside in tents between the halls. There were several reasons given by ECC for all the chaos around booth placement including a last minute decision by the Fire Marshall to force ECC to leave more space with so many pre-sale tickets being sold. Regardless of the reasons for this, ECC is very aware that they must get the back end exhibitor management sorted to avoid this from happening at future events.
Despite the heat wave, long lines at the entrance and chaotic 5 Hall Set Up, ECC was a resounding success for the industry and many brands (including Cafe Racer ) reported record orders placed at the show, hundreds of sales inquiries and new connections made - all important to moving the industry forward.
Cosmic Fog was the Premier ECC Sponsor and broke out their new mega booth. They along with hype brands like Space Jam seem to be in an arms race to see who can spend the most money and create the biggest, loudest mega hype booths possible - all to showcase the same 5 or 10 flavors of eLiquid that they've been selling for some time. This trend along with the fact that many smaller (and usually more innovative) companies were either denied the ability to exhibit or ended up with much smaller booth footprints in far flung locations does not seem like it benefits Vape Shop Buyers looking for new products, consumers or the Industry as a whole.
Many companies used ECC 2015 as a platform to launch new products. One notable was Mr Good Vape - who decided to reformulate all 12 of their flavors after receiving lab test results that detected trace amounts of Diacetyl and Acetyl Propionyl. More on this here.
ECC was also Cafe Racer's platform to launch our 3rd flavor - Yogurt Bomb, joining #Lucky13 and #PeachGuzzi as Cafe Racer's signature flavor line-up. Yogurt Bomb was a huge success at the ECC and will start shipping on or around September 16, 2015.
Innovations in Hardware and Accessories continue to come at a rapid pace. Everything from the latest temp control vaping set ups to cool accessories like Wüd - wooden skins and wraps to turn an ordinary box mods / batteries into real nice wooden boxes. It was a vapers paradise with many vendors offering great show specials and discounts for attendees.
ECC holds the distinction of being the world's largest Vape event. It's a little surprising that the event received very little media coverage from the likes of Vice or other progressive media outlets, especially with the event taking place so close to Los Angeles. Perhaps this is a good thing but at some point someone is going to break the story open and hopefully they will do this with an open mind and an agenda-less, non-biased story.
Here are a few more photos from ECC. We look forward to working with the show's organizers on future events - and it looks like ECC will be rolling into New Orleans in November - and we look forward to that and other events that the ECC team unleash around the country.
Here's a closing shot of Dustin Kott from Kott Motorcycles dropping off one of his custom Cafe Racer creations at ECC which we showcased at our booth.