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I keep reading about car companies pulling out of trade shows, so I thought it would be a good time to check in with the industry's largest trade shows to see how things are going. I also keep hearing rumblings that something is happening with the skate community with regard to trade shows, and wanted to try to find out more.
I sent some questions to Roy Turner, the Surf Expo show director, and Andy Tompkins of ASR.
I'll run Roy's answers today and Andy's tomorrow. Surf Expo's show in January is its biggest show of the year, while for ASR, the September show is its biggest.
Roy Turner: Funny, I look at it as half full: Yahoo earnings are up. Google is having a great year, Apple remains a great market leader with exciting products. Companies like Research In Motion have risen to the mobile challenge with not one, but three new answers to Apple's iPhone. At the end of the day, Chrysler is still building uninspiring mini vans and GM makes gas-guzzler Hummers and SUVs - enough said.
Q: So my first question is, what are you hearing from exhibitors and attendees?
RT: Times are tough, but we're definitely hearing that there are some bright spots out there. Online is doing well for retailers and their inventory levels are in check. There is opportunity for manufacturers in the re-order business. Acceptance of and interest in our sports in mainstream media and advertising remains extremely strong. Our industry is trend conscious and on point. We usually travel in seven-year swings, and this is based on enthusiast interest, not just the economy.
Q: How are your bookings for the January show relative to last year?
RT: Exhibitor bookings are maybe 10% off. With retail store attendance, we're actually looking to increase our numbers by 5%. We do see, however, that stores are bringing fewer buyers - those employees they know who can get things done.
Q: Is Surf Expo doing anything new or special to attract attendees and exhibitors? Perhaps offering discounts or incentives or extending deadlines?
RT: A unique aspect of Surf Expo is our Buyer Relations department. They reach out to both exhibitors and retailers to ensure a smooth and well-balanced trade show.
They help buyers register for the upcoming show and search for the manufacturers the buyers want to see most. The staff is also in communication with exhibitors, helping them spread their marketing message to our 9,000 buyers. We have that overdrive! We have increased our buyer fly-in dollars by 50% above last year and are working with key exhibitors to make sure the right buyers are attending.Our next buyer frontier is Canada and we are focusing efforts there as we speak. Discounts, deadline extensions? If our buyer attendance is in the right, we know we're offering more of a value now than ever.