Club Industry good business venue despite shrinking floor

The Club Industry show seems to remain, as one attendee put it, "a sentimental favorite," giving exhibitors a chance to do business and eliciting positive comments despite a smaller footprint.
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The Club Industry show seems to remain, as one attendee put it, "a sentimental favorite," giving exhibitors a chance to do business and eliciting positive comments despite a smaller footprint.

"The attendance was solid, but went in waves as many shows seem to do," said Herb Flentye, president of Spri Products. "All of the major club chains seemed to be represented and we met some great new people as well. All in all, it continues to be a sentimental favorite in the industry. Simply put, whether traffic, attendance, size, etc. were better in the past, people seem to enjoy the show."

"It will continue to be a great place for us to strengthen and build relationships," he added.

According to show management, this year's show, Oct. 10-13, again at McCormick Place in Chicago, drew 217 exhibiting companies that covered 82,400 square feet of space. Exhibitor numbers held even with last year's 219, slowing a steady decline in the last few years (2005, 237; 2004, 245; 2003, 246). However, space covered has gone down, indicative of companies tightening costs with a smaller booth and continued consolidation. In 2006, the show covered 86,100 square feet (this is booths only and not aisles), while it covered about 90,000 square feet the previous four years.

"All in all, it looked like a very broad turnout from the industry," said show director Zari Stahl. "Aside from the traditional health clubs we normally attract, there was a nice turnout from the JCCs and the Ys, as well as quite a few universities, hospitals and lots of park districts. Even some government representatives were there."

The front row was occupied by the typical suspects, with Technogym conspicuously absent. Star Trac continued its lead in booth size, as it continues to grow as a company, with other front row exhibitors including Paramount, Cybex, Life Fitness, Precor and Matrix. But that doesn't mean there wasn't good activity in the smaller booths, several attendees told SNEWS®.

"We felt the attendance was up significantly," said Scott Logan, director of marketing for SportsArt Fitness, which took up its place just behind Cybex. "The energy and the vibe were very good. We wrote more business than ever before, and the quality of attendees relative to being decision-makers was quite good."

Running parallel to the show was the Corporate Fitness track, which was downsized from a show to an education track of seminars, said manager Marc Onigman. Stahl said about 150 people participated in that, with corporate entities represented including Honda, AstraZeneca Pharma, ConocoPhillips, Deloitte, Kraft Foods and Kellogg Co. The show's lifetime achievement award was presented to Alan G. Schwartz, chairman of the board, TCA Holdings.

"The Corporate Fitness seminars went very well for a first-time event," said Onigman. "Lots of the attendees thanked me for providing a much needed forum for them. It was an event that we will be able to build on."

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