By SUSAN OSER
To the average Joe or Jane-vaper-on-the-street, a mere vape meet or vape show (depending on how it is marketed and labelled) sounds like the same thing to their ears and eyes. The venues range in size from the small, local vape shop to a huge arena. So, what are the differences between the two and are they worth the money you pay for at the door?
On a small scale, the local vape shop meet is just that. There’s no entrance fee, you might get some free food out of the deal, and there are usually some contests or prizes for some free stuff. It mostly caters to the regulars and other local clientele who happen to hear about it on Facebook or through their friends.
The attendance is usually 20-50 people. For the most part, it’s pretty easy to know people, but if there are cliques, they can usually be visible. Otherwise, it’s a great way to get your feet wet and meet other vapers while getting the feel for an actual meet.
If you are interested in going to something bigger like a VapeBash, VapeCon, or VapeXpo, you will have to stay at a hotel. In the past, the entrance fee was free at these events. However, with the new FDA deeming regulations, even the free entrance fee will be a thing of the past.
Along with the local or regional companies, there are companies from all over the United States (depending on when and where the event is held). Since it’s at the hotel, when it comes to the after parties, you can just go to your room and not have to worry about drinking and driving if you party too hard. At these events, mostly on the last day, you can get great bargains.
However, the main draw here is about meeting people and just hanging out. You don’t need to rush; you can just chill, vape, chat, and participate in whatever activities are available. Some have a costume contests, raffles, auctions, and workshops. They usually run at least 1-2 days. When possible, it’s best to stay at the hotel where the event is at because once the show is over, the actual socializing with the vendors and big players begins. To me, this is the best part of the event.
ECC events, VPX, and the like are what some would refer to as trade shows. Why? You pay a pretty decent amount to enter. For smaller scale events (those that try to merely “mimic” a trade show with their own agendas) it ranges from $5 – $10. While smaller shows can be successful, there have been some in the past that were viewed as just money grab opportunities by organizers who haven’t put the time, effort and money into putting on a top notch show.
At the bigger shows, you can get a VIP package that, if done right; you get some free juice, swag, and even a mod. If done wrong or the goods don’t get there on time, then you have a lot to answer for. The atmosphere of these events is not on the same level as a vape meet. It’s conducive and designed mostly for going in, buying your stuff, and that’s it. You don’t really feel like you can hang out. There’s not even enough or many areas to hang out. In a way, it kind of feels like an International Auto Show but with vaping.
Depending on the location, vape models who may or may not know anything about vaping are helping sell product. Some places set themselves up like a sterile vape shop for atmosphere. There are even some who try to make a show out of the deal. You also have vendors who really should not be a company at all with their labelling of product that will either look too childish, too sexual, or bordering on the line of they-are-going to-get-sued-if-they-are-not-careful.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I just have a preference of which one I like. However, from experience and what I’ve heard from other people, the free admission events tend to be better than the paid events in organization, quality, affordability, etc. The paid events for some reason just seem like a good-old-fashioned money grab, and the quality seems to be low. While some people have enjoyed those events because they’ve scored great deals, it doesn’t have the personal connection to me like an actual vape meet does.
It also seems like there’ve been too many of these events every month. One weekend can have at least 3-4 events going on at the same time. Thus the dilemma, which one
to go to? Which event would be worth my while? For the vendor or the activist, it makes travelling and choosing an event even more stressful, because they can only be at an event for one day and then have to fly to another event on the same weekend either that night or the next day. Thus, they don’t get a real chance to talk to the people they serve I believe that with the FDA regulations coming into place, the multiple shows on one weekend will more than likely be reduced to at least the biggest events that have gotten the most traction since day one when they started: ECC, VapeXpo, VapeBash, VaperCON, VapeSlam and VCC events. The other ones will, merge, collaborate, or just disappear because now they have more paperwork to file, rules to follow, and probably more money to pay if they want to put on an event within the next year and will no longer be able to afford it.
Is that a good thing? Perhaps it is. If anything, it will allow the consumer to save their money and get more bang for their buck as well as deeper connections with fellow vapers they may only chat with online most of the time.
So, which kind of event do you prefer? Do you like the trade shows or the vape meets? Do you like the small intimate venues, like a local vape shop, or the bigger-scaled events like an ECC? Contact me at email@example.com. I’d like to hear what you have to say. Also, log on to my Facebook, Twitter and personal website http://www.angelwritercreations.com. If you like this rant and want to hear more, I currently host on VapeTVLive on Thursday nights at 11pm – midnight EST.