The last-minute scaling back of Comdex Fall, which has seen attendance levels drop dramatically over recent years, has left some Asian exhibitors with a bad taste in their mouths. Normally, Comdex Fall is held in two main venues: The Las Vegas Convention Centre and the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Facing a lower-than-usual booking rate - the number of exhibitors this year has dropped from 2,300 to 2,000 - and the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks, show organisers Key3Media decided to close down the Sands show. Asian technology pavilions including those of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Singapore Trade Development Board and Taipei Hsien Computer Manufacturers Association were instead moved to the Las Vegas Convention Centre, where the main exhibition is held. However, a number of companies which had booked conference and meeting rooms at the Venetian Hotel in the hope of catching some of the Sands' traffic have found themselves left out in the cold. The Venetian is connected to the Sands, and many visitors to the centre for its Asian-themed floor would find time to visit the neighbouring conference rooms. Adding to the problems, the Venetian is the only major hotel on the strip that no longer has a free shuttle-bus service from the convention centre. 'It's been terrible,' said one exhibitor. 'There's nobody here. We've been sitting here all day with nothing to do.' An electronics manufacturer said his firm had booked the conference room to benefit from the large number of potential buyers expected to visit the Linux pavilion and the Asian OEM (original equipment manufacturer) stands which previously occupied the Sands. He was unsure whether his company would return to the event next year, when it will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. 'It was pretty disappointing when they decided to close down the Sands just two months before the show started,' said Eric Thorsrud, marcom manager for Taiwan-based Delta Products Corp. He also was unhappy with the cost of the room and the fact that the organisers had refused to either relocate the company or offer a discount on the price agreed before September. The cancellation of the free shuttle service to the Sands had only worsened an already bad situation, he said. 'That's very frustrating. That doesn't help,' said Mr Thorsrud. Delta has been in business for 30 years and supplies networking components, power supplies, monitors and miniature computer chips. Its customers include many of the world's best-known computer and consumer-electronics brands. In previous years, the company rented space on the main floors, but switched to a private room this year. 'We got a suite instead of a booth so we could spend quality time with our customers,' said Mr Thorsrud. 'We thought it would be convenient to have it here because it would be closer to the show.' Mr Thorsrud said Delta's trade at Comdex had been very limited. 'We've had a handful of customers come in each day,' he said. Taiwan-based OEM AOpen has exhibited at Comdex for several years, but found that with each year its staff were spending more time dealing with casual browsers hunting free T-shirts and premiums than with vendors and resellers. So, this year, AOpen decided to abandon the main halls and host meetings in the Venetian's conference rooms, where it could expect fewer freebie punters and more genuine buyers. The former Acer subsidiary operates production centres in Dongguan and Suzhou, but still maintains its research and development base in Taipei. As it has expanded its product line from PCs and components to higher-end server and telecommunications systems, AOpen viewed Comdex Fall as a crucial means to reach valuable new channel partners. However, with the Sands gone, AOpen has found that many of its anticipated visitors have evaporated. 'We were thinking that the expo would help bring people to us,' said Claire Chu, marketing manager for AOpen America. 'But it hasn't.'