What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Whether it’s the Ferris Wheel or the fountain show at the Bellagio, there’s always something to do at all hours of the night. People go to Las Vegas for all kinds of occasions, from bachelorette parties to weddings. And for good reason too – there’s just so many attractions to partake in.

You can pretend you’re in Italy at the Venetian hotel with their canals and sky-high ceilings. While you’re there, you should hit up Fat Tuesday’s for refreshments. If Italy isn’t up your alley, you can pretend you’re in France at the Paris hotel instead. Go shopping at the outlets for some Michael Kors purses or Levi’s jeans. Indulge in your gluttony at the many buffets offered by the hotels and dig into those Alaskan King crab legs. When you’re not gambling in the many casinos on the Strip, you can go clubbing and see the hottest DJs on the scene. You can even continue the party at a day club – just make sure you pack a swimsuit for the pool. If you’re feeling adventurous, try taking the zip line that travels down the Strip for a spin. When in Vegas, you can indulge in any sin or vice of your choice. Just don’t get a shotgun wedding with an Elvis impersonator. That might be hard to explain to your parents when you get back home.

While all these attractions are open to the public, several hidden gems exist that not everyone can access. One of these is the Annual Convention and International Trade Show, held by the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers [IPCPR] Association. It smokes the rest of the competition.

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The IPCPR, previously called Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, was founded in 1933 as a nonprofit organization to represent and assist retailers and suppliers of tobacco products. The association not only provides a place for retailers and manufacturers to convene, but they also offer legislative help and advice with laws concerning tobacco. The IPCPR gives many different services to its members. One of them is the highly anticipated Annual Convention and International Trade Show. This year, 2017, saw the 85th annual show.

The event has limited access, being open to only members of IPCPR. In order to enter you must show identification that proves you are affiliated with the organization. Any member of the general public who tries to get in will be escorted away from the venue. Members of the industry are deeply concerned with protecting their trade secrets and business interests, so there have been repeated requests to uphold the integrity of the show. That is why IPCPR tries so hard to keep regular consumers away.

Even though some media and news outlets will discuss what goes on at the show, others are much more tight-lipped. It really gives the trade show an aura of exclusivity. Fortunately for those who are curious, you can become a member and find out for yourself what the show is like. You can access the application online, with eight different membership types to choose from. You can choose to be a domestic (US) retailer, an international retailer, an associate member, a domestic distributor member, an international distributor member, a broker member, a supplier member, or an internet media member.

The various types of membership offer different benefits to each group. Domestic retailers will receive legislative information and help regarding new laws on tobacco. They will be eligible to participate in the annual Trade Show with three free badges, and additional badges at $150 each. According to the website, they will also have the IPCPR Almanac at their disposal, with “pages of product listings and information on cigars, cigarettes, pipes, tobacco, lighters, and gift items.” Domestic retailers will receive news on the industry and subscriptions to the Tobacconist and Smokeshop magazines. They will also be able to receive certification through the Tobacconist University education program. International retailers receive a smaller benefits package. While they will be able to attend the trade show, they will not receive legislative help or advice. International retailers will receive industry news, the almanac, and the magazine subscriptions. They are also eligible for certification like domestic retailers. An associate member will receive benefits focusing on exposure to IPCPR’s retailer member base in addition to the basic benefits package of news, the almanac, the magazine subscriptions and the enrollment for certification. Domestic distributor members will be able to attend informative seminars and gain access to the Members Only section of the IPCPR website. They will also be able to register online for the trade show and snag hotel rooms for members-only prices. International distributors will receive the same benefits package as domestic distributors. Broker members will have access to 2,000 qualified buyers from over 1,000 member stores and over 350 suppliers, in addition to the Trade Show and almanac. They will also receive access to the Members Only section of the website and the hotel room benefits. Suppliers will be able to attend the Trade Show, access the almanac and the Members Only section, and they will receive hotel benefits. The internet media member benefits focus on legislative help and advocacy, in addition to the basic benefits package. They will also receive preferred credit card processing. You can look over your options on the IPCPR website to decide which type of membership works best for you.

For members, the Trade Show offers a variety of activities to keep event-goers occupied for the whole week. There’s an Opening Breakfast featuring a special guest to give a speech. There’s the hot Cigar Bash that allows even more mingling and networking with the other attendees. Making connections is important in any business, and the world of cigars is no exception. There is even a raffle if you feel like trying your luck with the prizes. But of course the main attraction of the show is the part where tons of cigar vendors gather together, set up stalls like a carnival, and display their wares. Attendees get to walk around the area, visiting various tables, and trying free samples of interesting cigars. It is an experience that truly appeals to the senses. People can see, smell, and taste the many cigars that are on show. Vendors are eager to get others to try out their products. It’s a great opportunity to let people know for themselves what it’s like to smoke that particular brand of cigar. Event-goers have a lot of fun here. Even experienced sellers of cigars can still come each year to learn more about the business. From meeting others, they can pick up new ideas for how to best market their products.

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Almost four hundred vendors attended the Trade Show this year to show off the latest and greatest of their products, but some companies have specialties even among this unique crowd. For instance, Custom Tobacco from the Veloz Group offers a service that virtually no other can boast: at their website, people can customize their own cigars. Visit the site and see the options to select your own band, blend, wrapper, and size. Add a personal touch to every step of the process. These cigars are fun to buy for oneself and also make a fantastic gift for loved ones.

Burning for more information? This year’s event is still quite recent, so it may be hard to find articles or other content about it. However, you can certainly find media about the show from last year in 2016. Articles (and enthusiastic commenters) exist to offer a reading experience of the event. For a really engaging look, one can watch a video. Some cigar industry associates have taken videos of the show. Thanks to that, a viewer can get a taste for how it feels to walk around the event grounds, hear the chatter of the crowd, and gaze upon the parade of stylish stalls that are lined up as far as the eye can see. Watching a video is not quite the same as actually being there, of course. For one thing, you won’t be able to taste the tobacco for yourself. But you can still take a good deal of enjoyment from watching other people laugh and exclaim over the cigars they try out. And watching can get you hyped up for whenever you go yourself.

IPCPR prides its trade show for being the place to be for dedicated tobacco fans. It calls itself the “most important event of the year” for tobacco vendors. It’s plain to see why cigar afficionados are drawn to this organization. IPCPR demonstrates a strong concern for the present and future of the industry. This trade show that they hold each year is a testament to their desire to observe the industry as it develops over time.

And they look ahead into the future, too. One of their slogans is “We’re Serious About Protecting Your Future!” In addition, when advertising the annual trade show, the ads say upfront in the opening paragraphs that the show is meant to spark many ideas and keep business going strong, “no matter what blockades” may come into place in the coming years. That kind of fiery optimism can really lift up the spirits of a cigar lover, making them feel that the future is bright. Smoking may not be as popular an activity as it once was, decades ago, but present-day fans form a tight niche group. They are truly devoted to what they love. They’re determined to keep the world of cigars alive even in a changing world.

The post What’s Hot in Vegas: A Look at the Cigar Trade Show appeared first on Custom Tobacco.