What’s the role of America’s premier coin show as collectors increasingly turn to the Internet to connect, buy, sell and learn?
It’s a question that the American Numismatic Association will certainly struggle with over the next several years, if the discussions at both open board sessions held during its recent World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., are any indication.
For 2013, 2014 and 2015 the show will be anchored at the Donald E. Stephens Convention center in Rosemont, close to O’Hare airport but 30 to 90 minutes away from downtown Chicago depending on traffic.
It’s not easy to put on a world-class show like the ANA does each summer. Shows are expensive, and an ANA show demands a lot of bourse space for more than a week, when the pre-show is considered, without consuming a huge number of hotel rooms.
Typically conventions require sponsoring organizations to contract a specific number of hotel rooms for a show. If enough attendees don’t stay at the hotels at the contracted rates, an organization is on the hook for what can be tens of thousands of dollars. The Rosemont multiyear contract was at the time viewed as financially beneficial to the ANA.
A good chunk of the ANA’s budget is dependent on a successful show, with revenue coming in from bourse fees and auction revenues. Former ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd pointed out in 2010 when announcing that the ANA’s big summer show would be anchored in Rosemont that the show touches nearly all elements of the ANA’s activities. He pointed out that even the ANA’s magazine advertising revenue can in large part be attributed to dealers seeking to gain ANA stars to achieve better table locations.
Unofficial ANA attendance figures show around 9,000 people attended this year’s convention. It’s comparable to other recent ANA shows, but one wonders if the premier numismatic event in this country can do better. Dealers, along with nonlocal collectors, pay thousands of dollars to attend and deserve the best show that our hobby can muster.
There are no clear cut answers as to what makes a successful major coin show in today’s market.
Does extending a show to Sunday help provide a more robust bourse floor on Saturday? Should auctions be limited to nonbourse hours to not compete with bourse dealers? How can a show held in the same location stay fresh and relevant each year, providing something new to visitors? Should auction houses be the first thing that visitors see on the bourse floor? Does an admission charge hurt or help a show?
The questions are endless, but they’re questions that the new ANA Board, and the hobby in general, will have to contend with if the ANA World’s Fair of Money and our hobby is to prosper.