The American Fly Fishing Trade Association voted to turn down an offer from Nielsen Business Media to merge the FlyFishing Retailer trade show into the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show, inside sources familiar with the vote told SNEWS®.
AFFTA President Gary Berlin confirmed that a vote took place on Oct. 13, but he would not reveal the outcome of the vote when contacted by us. "The board did make a decision on Tuesday, and the information will be released at the end of the month when all documents are finalized."
When asked exactly what the AFFTA board voted on, Berlin said, "On the table was an offer by Nielsen Media to have a show within a show at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in 2010 and beyond." Berlin would not comment further on what remained to be finalized before the outcome of the vote would be announced.
The idea of a merger was first revealed to the public in a Sept. 29, 2009, press release from Outdoor Industry Association, which stated:
"The Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) Board of Directors today announced their endorsement and recommendation of a shift of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (ORSM) dates from the third week of July to the first week of August in 2010 and beyond. The board also endorsed a new portfolio of tradeshow benefits for the paddlesports community, as well as endorsed the inclusion of the Nielsen Business Media owned FlyFishing Retailer trade show, subject to American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) acceptance, into the summer market to create a broader water culture."
Berlin told SNEWS that AFFTA was looking for a new way forward with the FlyFishing Retailer show because it has suffered lower participation from exhibitors and attendees. "The show has declined in exhibit space and visitors for the past four years due to the economy and consolidation of brands," he said.
SNEWS® View: We can only speculate on what documents must be finalized before AFFTA can formally announce its vote, but we'd guess it has something to do with other offers or options on how and where FlyFishing Retailer will exist in the future. Also, while we have no formal word on why AFFTA voted against the merger, but we suspect it had something to do with the August dates being inconvenient. But, there could have also been concerns that Nielsen wasn't offering the fly-fishing industry the level of funding it desired, or was perhaps use to, or maybe the fly-fishing community just didn't want to become a smaller exhibiting fish in the bigger Outdoor Retailer pond. Whatever direction AFFTA takes, it is fighting a difficult trend where smaller, niche trade shows are in jeopardy of fading away due to the pressures of the recession and an ongoing evolution in the trade show marketplace. The recent FlyFishing Retailer show in September housed about 35,000 square feet of exhibit space, while the show has been as big as 50,000 square feet in the past. The recovery from the recession is going to be painfully slow, and those numbers aren't likely to improve anytime soon.