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Trade Show season for the outdoor industry is starting. The big question: What is the future of tradeshows?

Tradeshows make a statement as well as keep an industry going. We need tradeshows.

No denying that tradeshows are having issues. The numbers of attendees are dropping and the numbers of people who are “buyers” are disappearing.

However, it does not matter how many people show up at a tradeshow as long as the right people show up.

I believe in National tradeshows.

They are important because they allow small new businesses to introduce themselves to the world. Jetboil and Vibram Five Finger shoes are recent examples. Those are designs or ideas that could not make it without an introduction to a national audience. You can get lucky and have a magazine or website put your product out there, but a tradeshow is your best bet. In fact, most magazines go to tradeshows to find those new great items.

Yes, there are other shows besides a national trade show, consumer shows, rep shows, etc.. However, finding and exhibiting at those shows for a new manufacturer is difficult and expensive. For the rep shows if you don’t have a rep, you can’t get a booth. Very few reps are going to pick up an unknown line. Consequently, the new manufacturer has no way to get his product introduced to the masses without a national show.

A national show gives a new product or a new company the opportunity to reach national retailers, national media and the world.

Legal & Risk Management reasons for Tradeshows

Tradeshows also allow manufacturers and retailers to exchange ideas, which make the industry better. Tradeshows allow interaction between parties, which raises the standard of care for an industry.

Risk management ideas are exchanged between everyone at tradeshows. Everyone attending learns something and sometimes one thing is enough.

Tradeshows allow “old guys” to talk about their past, how the mountain was higher and the snow was deeper on every peak we climbed.

Sales ideas are traded at tradeshows.

Retailers leave tradeshows with new ideas on how to sell new and old products. One retailer tells of their success with a marketing idea to an exhibitor, and that exhibitor passes the ideas on.

This occurs when reps are in their territories, but not as consistently, and they are sometimes forgotten in those long drives from one store to the next.

Tradeshows provide tons of benefits.

Tradeshows also make statements. A tradeshow tells the industry it is vibrant and healthy. It generates interest both in the attendees and those that do not attend and consumers. Big trade shows get consumers online because they know they can see the latest and greatest.

Money

Tradeshows cost a lot of money, to put on and to attend. That amount is relative. If it costs too much to attend you don’t go, and if it costs too much to put on, you won’t.

SIA suffered major traffic loss when the show moved to Denver. Compared to Las Vegas, Denver is a very expensive town to fly into and stay. Salt Lake City has the same reputation during OR week. I know a few retailers who have given up and just fly in and fly out the same day, if the come at all.

And those of you that argue one city is better than another to host a trade show, there is really only cost issue. Yes, Las Vegas sucks to bicycle around, but you are not spending big bucks to go cycle. Inside the tradeshow the air, the lights and the exhibits, all seem to be identical in Denver, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. It does not matter where the tradeshow is located as long as it works for the attendees.

Not Exhibitors? If you get enough buyers, the exhibitors will show up on mars.

·         The cost for retailers has to make sense.

·         The time to register and book a trip, including lodging has to be easy.

·         The tradeshow has to occur at a time when the retailers know how much money they will have to spend next year and what sold and did not sell this year.

·         The exhibitors must have a value in attending the tradeshow and that means a bottom line they make more money than they spend.

I don’t have any answers really. I do have concerns. I believe we need trade shows for more reasons than just buying and selling. At the same time, without buying and selling there is no reason for a tradeshow.

See you at the next tradeshow.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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