LAS VEGAS—What is going on, anyway? On one hand we are told by the tourist bureau that "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas." This might be great for the revelers who come to this action-packed locale hoping that the slogan is good to its promise. Especially the NASCAR hordes who, for the second time, will be sharing the taxi lines with us.
But the moguls could not possibly have meant this to include the 25,000-plus attendees that are coming back to Las Vegas—thankfully—after a two-year hiatus. Hopefully, what happens at the PMA convention in Las Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas at all, but gets taken back to the meeting rooms, boardrooms, and kitchen tables of all who attend, from the major mass-merchant suits to the smallest mom-and-pop operations that have dented their credit cards to get here.
This, after all, is intended to be a learning experience—not about the odds at the craps table, but the odds of taking the information from a breakfast meeting or that choice of photo album hardware and turning it into some meaningful benefits on the sales floor. Why else would you spend all those bucks (yours or your company's) to make the jaunt?
If you sleep for about four hours a night (about average in Vegas) and you are here for five days with PMA, DIMA, PSPA, SPAA, or PSRO, you will be working for about 100 hours. What do you expect to accomplish in your 100 hours?
Paul Rentz, for one, said he will be on the lookout for a kiosk that does more than just 4x6 prints. Paul is the owner of Rush Hour Photo & Wireless, Corvallis, OR, who, along with others, responded to my query on firstname.lastname@example.org as to what they were looking for at PMA.
Paul has an appealing perspective: he is looking for opportunities to offer printing services at retail that consumers cannot do themselves at home. This from a dealer who is in the hometown of a major HP facility employing about 4,000, and was selected to do a trade trial of an HP Photosmart Studio setup that probably had the serial number 0001. Careful, Paul.
Paul is "looking at CMYK solutions that can print things we haven't been able to in the past: folded greeting cards, photo books, short-run catalog sheets, card-stock business cards, postcards, etc." It seems as though the photo specialist business is shifting more and more to outputting products that were previously associated with the local quick-print shop, a natural adjustment for the aggressive specialist seeking new opportunities. Paul also notes, "We've dabbled in it with our digital printers but can't get 'two-side' printing."
He will not be disappointed in his quest at PMA. Paul has had true duplex printing with the HP Studio's album laser printer, but others are now getting into the two-sided game at PMA. At their booths, Photo-Me and Kodak are showing two-sided pages (sort of) by bonding two pages of silver halide paper back-to-back. In its booth, Fuji will be showing a printer made by Xerox that will output real double-sided prints.
(If anyone is interested in hearing Paul's retailing philosophy in today's photo environment, he will be doing a presentation at DIMA, session D54, on the topic, "A New Way to Take an Order.")
On the subject of that Xerox printer (now being offered by Fuji as DocuColor 240 and 250), Roger Berg (Creative Photo, Inc., Columbia, MO) is a user and a believer. He reported on bestphotolist: "On some of the better Xerox papers, it is difficult to see any difference between these Xerox prints and fine lab photo prints. We find this [business] to be one of the most profitable things we do."
A true evangelist, Roger adds, "I have never understood why photo labs don't get on this technology." Well, Roger, with Fuji now promoting the Xerox product, you may get some new members to your exclusive club.
Alan Logue (Hub Photographics, Australia) has special problems—and special reasons to come to PMA. His business is located in South Australia and he gets frustrated that manufacturers have "not heard of any country other than the U.S. and will not supply us Down Under. Yes, we have the Internet, but it's still good to see, touch, and feel products and talk to real people." Hey, Alan, with some of the folks you may meet in Las Vegas, you might find that talking to a kangaroo or koala bear is more satisfying.
He also expects that coming to PMA "gives us an edge on local competition because we see things before they do." Unlike most of us, Alan is leaving the summer season behind, not winter, to make his very long trip.
Specifically, Alan "will be looking for options for albuming photos, how to do shoebox scans better, and kiosk software." Alan also said he will be going to "the 'little' stands at the back of the hall for niche ideas and products that others here in Australia will not see, hear about, or know about. That (Alan's emphasis) is what gives us an edge."