I’ve just finished day one at the Paddlesports Retailer Tradeshow going on now in Madison Wisconsin. It is fantastic. I’m seeing old friends, many I’ve not seen for twenty years. I’m seeing boats that are beautiful and handcrafted that have disappeared from other tradeshows. I’m looking at accessories I did not know existed.
Over the past fifteen years the Paddlesports Industry has felt abandoned by the Outdoor Retailer Summer Tradeshow. During that period, the number of retailers attending Summer OR have continually dropped. This past show, there were probably about a dozen, but I did not count.
There are over 100 exhibitors here. People and products that I had forgotten about. An industry, paddlesports, with a big beating heart that loves water and helping people enjoy the water.
It is a feeling that I’ve not felt at tradeshows for a while, since Outdoor Retailer before it left Reno, NV. When people were excited to attend a tradeshow and looked forward to it. Maybe I’m being nostalgic or dreaming of days long gone and memories are always better than reality. But it just seems….
It is a little laid back, no one rushing down the aisles but that is possibly because you can get around easily, it is small. Larger than OR the first year it was at the Nugget in Reno, but still small. But everyone has a smile on their face. Everyone is happy to be here, and its a tradeshow.
I’ve seen orders being written. I’ve seen people showing lines after the beer came out. I’ve seen people working and product being bought. I can’t remember the last time I saw an order being written at a tradeshow other than in the Bison Designs booth at OR.
Walking from my hotel in Madison this morning I found myself walking with a retailer. OR came up and he said he had never attended OR. I asked why. He said timing, I would lose thousands to take time off when OR is held and I can’t afford it. Unsolicited by me. He was also a small Wisconsin retailer.
At the same time, I’ve not seen buyers form the big retailers like REI, etc., It’s a shame. If you believe that paddlesports is what shows up at OR, you are missing out on 90 exhibitors and their products you have not seen. Sure there is overlap, exhibitors, big ones, who attended OR and are here. However I think that is an indication of their support of the idea, rather than a fear of not being here.
The feelings I describe seem to be mirrored by everyone I have talked to at the show. No guarded answers on how things are going, how do you think this will work out or will you come back. All the answers were “this is great, awesome and yes.” People are happy here, people are taking orders and “writing paper” and paper are planning on attending the next one.
The paddlesports manufactures here like the association with other manufacturers in a small exhibit hall. It gives them the opportunity to learn and to shine. Several said it was nice to realize again, they where part of a larger industry.
This show would not have happened with out Darren Bush of Rutabega’s and Sutton Bacon of Nantahala Outdoor Center. Darren’s relationship in the community and knowledge of how conference center’s work, along with and I’m guessing his name and signature brought the show to life. Sutton Bacon rounded up the hitters to sign on the dotted line to attend.
Are there issues, you bet. You can’t get everything you need here. The other accessories that a paddlesports shop needs are not going to be here. No stoves (well one stove at the Point 65 booth by Liberty Mountain, no tents, no sleeping bags. None of those things that add up to more dollars spent at a store. And a lot of those manufacturers are not going to be able to split and do two or more shows. Someone is going to have to give and I suspect, like always it will be the retailers. However if the money item is boats for a retailer, the draw, then this tradeshow is where those retailers need to be.
I was not really thinking of attending, but so many people asked me about the show at OR or told me they were going, I figured it was a Can’t Miss opportunity. I was right.
I’m glad I’m here. I fly home tonight and now wish I had more time to walk and talk the show, to spend more time with old friends, to meet new friends and to enjoy the paddlesports industry.
A little rambling, but an honest evaluation of 24 hours at a new Paddlesports Retailer Tradeshow in Madison. Thanks Darren & Sutton the team you created to put this together.
Trade Show season for the outdoor industry is starting. The big question: What is the future of tradeshows?Posted: July 29, 2015
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.
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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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the Confusing
Overall, I believe Interbike was a success for the exhibitors attending and indoors.
New Venue: The show moved from the Sands to the Mandalay Bay Convention center. I had been to the convention center many times for the ski show and was familiar with the venue. Everyone else seemed confused with the new venue and booth arrangement. However, that confusion had a big payoff. The smaller 10 x 10 booths that normally don’t see anyone till late the first day or later were packed from the beginning. I talked to one exhibitor who had expected to have meetings the morning of the first day and did not get to them because of the traffic. That’s great.
Overall everyone thought traffic was good and constant.
Mandalay Bay’s food court was closed so that left few options for food. 4 options actually, all with the same fare. Day 1 and 2 the food was expensive but great. Day 3 the lettuce started to wilt. $7.50 for a Gatorade was also a little tough, but I should be used to it by now at trade shows.
When the Food court is open, life will get better. More and better food options are always great at a trade show.
Part of the show was outside. In theory, it was a great idea, the opportunity to test bikes, check out things what would not fit or would be hard to get into a trade show. The only problem was Mother Nature did not cooperate. It was hot. Most attendees got about 150’ out to the “paddock” and quit, returning quickly to the air-conditioned indoors. However the idea works.
The venue did bring back the crit. Having two bicycle races at a tradeshow, cyclecross and a crit are great! Two of the best reasons to attend the show is to relax after the day on the show floor and watch racing rather than crowing into a bar and not getting served (sorry started thinking about OR at SLC).
It would be nice to have a couple of straight aisles to move from one end of the show to the other. It helps with orientation also.
The overall opinion of the move to Mandalay Bay from the Sands: nicer bathrooms.
Eventually, everyone will know where everyone else is and things will settle back to the old familiarity everyone felt at the Sands. Mandalay Bay is smaller than the sands, but with the outdoor space, (weather permitting) and how much nicer the entire area is, Mandalay Bay will work.
Traffic: Traffic was down; Interbike preliminary numbers reported “Overall attendance was down 7 percent from 2012”. I think 7% is optimistic. Day two of the demo seemed that way to everyone I talked to. However, the total numbers do not matter; it only matters if the right people were there and every exhibitor I talked to accept one said they were happy with the attendance.
The one exhibitor who thought numbers were down was upstairs in the main hall and could have been downstairs in health and fitness business. That area was light, light might not be the best word, void might be better.
Walking through the health and fitness business section, it seemed like the same number of exhibitors were there. However buyers were not. Part of the problem was there was nothing on the main show floor saying where to find H&F Biz. or how to get there. I finally asked someone on how to get to the H&F Biz.
The App. The Interbike App was much better, must faster and worth downloading. Don’t go to a tradeshow and not use the app if they have one. The only problem was people walking around following their phones and having me bump into them……or maybe I was following my phone and bumping into them…..
Demo. The demo is the best part of Interbike. You get to ride bikes and figure out how bikes ride. You can compare bikes side by side or ride by ride. You get to talk to the mechanics, the people who work on the bikes and ask them questions about what works and what does not work. I’m afraid that Interbike will become like the ski show. People show up for the demo and skip the tradeshow.
Consumer Day: The major talk of the show was Consumer Day: The big talk for the entire show, instead of what was new, consumer day. Originally, Interbike tried to entice retailers to bring six of their best clients to Vegas and attend Interbike on the last day, for $50 each. That was expanded to anyone who attended Vegas Cyclecross and paid less, then anyone who rode the Vegas Fondo, then members for People for Bikes. Supposedly, the difference in what you paid was a different swag bag.
Exhibitors had three issues throughout the show: How was it going to work? Information was either hard to find or just missing as far as most exhibitors were concerned.
They’re going to steal us blind. One booth used plastic wrap on their booth each night to prevent theft when no one was in the booth. Friday morning they left the wrap on.
Can we sell to the people coming in? Many exhibitors pay for part of their costs and save shipping by selling to the exhibitors the last day. Retailers have a great deal on product and exhibitors have less to pack and ship and a little cash in their pocket at the end of the show. Exhibitors were met Friday morning with a piece of paper warning them not to sell anything on the last day. This was met with mixed reaction. Some booths that normally sold everything packed up everything and some booths were empty just as they normally were.
Consumer badges had a yellow/tan background. I started counting them when I saw them. I waited by the main door at 9:00 am expecting a rush of consumers. There was no rush of anyone. (I could have been at the wrong door…..) By 4:00 Pm I had counted 36 consumer badges. I did not search; I just counted if I saw a badge. By mid-morning, many consumers had turned their badge around so they were not identifiable as a consumer, so I’m sure there were more people than 36 consumers.
Interbike reported that “Preliminary data shows that approximately 750 verified consumers attended Interbike’s 1st consumer-access day on Friday, September 20th.” I think that is a little bit of a stretch or they reported something wrong. There were not 750 people on the show floor combined on Friday: Exhibitors, Buyers, Media and Consumers. I can’t believe I missed 714 people walking around the show floor.
The biggest tragedy of consumer day was exhibitors thought the consumers had chased buyers away. The exhibitors seemed right. There appeared to be a lot less buyers on the floor the last day. This was an open discussion on the floor throughout Friday.
The one funny thing is what the “consumers” did buy. Las Vegas has a dozen booth filler companies as I call them. I met one at an Interbike a while ago. They live in Vegas and make a living selling stuff at tradeshows. Many times they have nothing to do with the show. They are contacted by the convention center owners or the tradeshow when a tradeshow has space. They just quickly move in, set up and sell what they have. It is better to have “what are they doing here” booths than empty space according to my source.
At this year’s Interbike half of the consumers were walking around with bags from one of these booths. It was some sort of muscle stimulate selling for $60+ dollars on the show floor and available online for $5.
At least there wasn’t a personal injury law firm with a booth like last year.
Should you attend?
Yes. You should always attend your industry tradeshow.
1. You find new things. Not in the big booths, but the next new thing that sits by your counter or in five years may occupy a large portion of your showroom floor. Small companies can’t hire reps and can’t come to see you. The next great bicycle thing only shot is the national tradeshow. That five minutes they can grab from you aisle you walk the back rows may be your profit next year.
The big booths have reps; the small booths have one shot.
2. You need to learn. Not just from the education seminars but from everyone there. Standards change. The legal balance on how you run your store shifts with what some think is the wind. The best chance you have to stay on top of these issues is attending a trade show. Conversations in booths and in aisles can make big difference in how you run your store.
3. Industry Support. The industry’s only real chance together is at a tradeshow. Those people, who volunteer their time and money to serve on boards for you, need to know it is worth their time and effort. You should show up to show the organizations that serve you, both as a retailer and a rider, that they are doing a good job. You need to let them know you care. The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) booth was staffed by a board member the entire show. You could walk up at any time and talk about your issues, gain their insight and let them know you appreciate their efforts.
4. You put a face on an email or a phone number. Relationships are the key to the cycling industry. The stronger the relationship the better you and the industry. When you know who you are dealing with. When their face pops into you mind when you answer the phone the better your store or your
If nothing else you can stand around with the rest of us and watch consumers walk around…….
What do you think? Leave a comment.
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Legal Reasons Why You Should be at your Industry Conference
You also do not want to miss out on all the fun!
People attend conferences for numerous reasons. To see old friends, meet new friends or to save money. The money you can save by buying equipment at a conference will usually pay for the trip. However, many people miss a very and important reason for attending their industry conference. Attending could keep you from being sued. This is a hidden, but very important benefit of attending a conference that most people do not appreciate until they are sitting on the witness stand in a courtroom.
There are several defenses you can use in running your outdoor recreation business. Releases and Assumption of the Risk are the two biggest and the ones most frequently use. Both to some extent revolve around the question whether you met the “reasonable standard for the industry.” Reasonable is defined as what a reasonable person would do in the same situation. Standard is the level of safety or knowledge and practice of safety required Industry is the paddling business industry. The definition combines to create a safety requirement that is the absolute minimum that a reasonable person running an outdoor recreation business would do. Standards are not goals; however, falling below the standard will almost always guaranty a losing lawsuit or at least increasing the cost of winning one.
Standards are floating. It is not always the same for a state, region or the nation. The standard will also change based on the water level, the type of river you are on, the equipment you are using and in several cases the types of guests to whom you are marketing. A recreation business in a rural area with a slow mellow stream that market’s to local people may have a different standard then when on a stream with small rapids near a large city and marketing to the masses. As such, you need to meet other people who are applying the same standard in the industry that you are using. You may also need to converse with people who are applying higher standards. History shows that companies move up to meet the standards for better operations or operations with higher standards.
Standards are not made, written down or created in courtrooms. They are constantly changing and they can only be found in the eyes and actions of everyone else in the industry. In trials, expert witnesses are brought in to tell the jury what the standard of care in a particular situation should have been. These expert opinions are based on the knowledge of the accident and a broad knowledge of the industry. You need to maintain your knowledge level of the industry at the same level as the experts. You are required to know the standard of the industry and your standards when running any business.
“Why does attending a conference change the way I do business?” Because the only way you can find out about a change in the standards is by meeting and greeting other people in the industry. If you have not attended a conference in several years, you may not know that the majority of states now require Personal Flotation Devices‘ for children. Even though your state may not require them, the standard has changed. You may not be required by law to provide a PFD, however, the standard is that one will be required and as such you have dropped below what the reasonable person would do in your situation.
Without attending a conference and seeing what everyone else is doing, you will not stay current in the industry. As such, you are wearing a target on your back that says sue me. Only personal injury attorneys can see that target. But see it they will when someone is hurt at your business.
There are other reasons for attending the conference. Unless you have hired an attorney to stay current on the issues or a lobbyist, you may have missed a change in the law. Many laws are passed each year that do not make the news. Old laws may also change. A great example of that is how courts have interpreted laws in West Virginia and Colorado recently. Unless you attend a conference, you may not know how new or interpreted laws have changed over the past year. What was a defense to the horseback riding industry in Colorado is now a welcome mat for lawsuits.
New ways to promote safety show up at conferences. New ideas that one business develops in their program can be a great way to keep your guests safe. New equipment is debuted, with the plusses and minuses at conferences.
New ideas also change the legal environment. A new product by a manufacture showing at the Conference can quickly change the standard for an industry. A new design of boat, Personal Flotation Device or trailer may suddenly make your system a risky liability issue.
These changes will not only affect whether a guest can sue you for injuries but also whether your own employees can sue you. Lifting canoes to the top level of a trailer may cause worker’s compensation injuries. A new design that promotes employee health and welfare could save thousands in worker’s compensation benefits.
The final legal reason for attending a conference is the overall education you receive. Judges and juries look at witnesses and examine their credibility. People who are honest are the witnesses’ juries believe. Honesty is not just how you are on the stand when you are testifying, but how you ran your business. An honest and upstanding member of the business community is going to continually want to improve his business. Being a member of your professional organization and attending the yearly conferences shows a jury that you care enough about your business and your clients to spend the extra time and money to run your business the best way possible. If you are willing to show an interest in your clients by receiving the most up to date education, you must not be as bad as you are being portrayed by the opposing attorney.
Some insurance companies give discounts on premium for attending a conference. They know that the company that attends a conference is concerned about staying current with the industry and keeping their operation as top notch as possible. Companies that attend conferences and get the most possible from a conference are less likely to have accidents that cost insurance company’s money.