HFB show moving? Find out more in web meeting - SNEWS

HFB show moving? Find out more in web meeting

More than two months after the 2009 Health & Fitness Business show was only a shadow of its former self, show management wants to talk to and get feedback from the industry about its future. Among the topics up for discussion is a possible merger with Interbike.
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More than two months after the 2009 Health & Fitness Business show was only a shadow of its former self, show management wants to talk to and get feedback from the industry about its future.

Show owner Nielsen Business Media is considering integrating the fitness show into another of its events, with September’s Interbike show at the top of the list, SNEWS® has learned.

“We have been diligently working on options to continue to serve the trade show needs of the retail fitness industry,” said Andy Tompkins, director of the show and a vice president of the Nielsen Sports Group that manages not only HFB but also Action Sports Retailer, Interbike, FlyFishing Retailer and Outdoor Retailer.

“Given recent developments in the marketplace, I’m sure we all can agree changes in the current show platform are necessary,” he said. “At this point, it seems the best scenario for the industry to continue to interact with a dynamic retail audience is to position Health & Fitness Business next to another Nielsen event that serves a similar buying base.”

Although several scenarios are possible, joining with Interbike (www.interbike.com) is a top consideration, Tompkins shared with SNEWS.

Web conference on Oct. 29

To find out what Nielsen management is considering and to offer feedback and ideas, the show group is holding a web-based meeting on Oct. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. All interested industry members are welcome and encouraged to attend to find out more.

“We look forward to outlining some of our concepts in the conference call and, of course, to hearing ideas from the industry, as well,” Tompkins said.

In an email invitation sent Oct. 21 to past and present attendees and other interested industry members, HFB management said the goal of the meeting is to review the performance of the 2009 show, discuss current industry challenges and outline plans it is looking at for 2010.

“We would like to solicit your feedback on the best direction to continue in connecting buyers and sellers, and moving the retail fitness industry forward,” the email invitation stated.

Tompkins said the group wants to walk through data and feedback it has from both the fitness industry and others, including survey results showing huge retailer interest at Interbike in fitness.

“The key is, we want to ask people if this is something they are interested in,” he said.

Interbike pluses and minuses

Advantages include being a part of a show that, despite the economy, continues to be a large and passionate gathering of retailers, suppliers and others -- many of whom already do some fitness business. Click here to see a Sept. 30, 2009, SNEWS story about the 2009 Interbike event, “Interbike '09 attendance indicates retailers feeling somewhat better…at least in bikes.” 

In addition, the Interbike show is in Las Vegas, giving many in fitness a break from the HFB show’s long-time Denver location -- a change requested by many, including in both the 2008 and 2009 SNEWS post-HFB show surveys. (Click here to read results from 2009, “HFB show should rotate cities, bring in other categories, keep equipment previews;” and click here to see results from the 2008 survey, “Industry wants HFB show to move, bring on other categories.”)

Also, the show includes other product categories, such as nutrition and hydration, in which SNEWS survey results have suggested fitness retailers have some interest. And bike retailers are a growing market for fitness equipment and accessories. Plus, the Interbike show’s large, enthusiastic attendance could be a boost for energy and education for a fitness show that would be able to tap into Interbike’s offerings while still remaining a separate identity.

Disadvantage? For many, the timing will be later than desired -- in 2010, the show is slated for Sept. 22-24, or four to six weeks later than the normal event and what many consider ideal timing. Still, many companies are closing sales and doing their own fly-ins in September and early October.

Show past and future

Although the show has remained small, it has until the last couple of years been mostly embraced by the fitness industry as its own. But the economy took its toll on the industry and its retailers. Dozens of stores have been shut, closed or gone bankrupt in the last 18 months and that has sliced the audience of buyers for the show. Others are starting to fill in where many have shut down, but insiders believe the economy prior to the downturn had created a glut of stores.

This year, the show was tiny, and fueled an emotional pre- and post-show debate about those who chose not to attend and about increasing numbers of non-exhibiting manufacturers who attended to walk aisles sans booths. Only 65 companies had booths and the show was a mere 22,600 square feet or nearly half of 2008’s 124 exhibiting companies. Only 375 retail buyers attended or about 60 percent of last year’s already low number of 640. That only represented nearly 200 separate retail businesses compared to 2008’s 325 businesses represented.

Click here to see an Aug. 11, 2009, SNEWS recap of this year’s show, “Health & Fitness Business '09: Small show draws mixed reaction, paves way for 2010 changes.” 

To attend the Thursday, Oct. 29, web meeting to make sure your voice and ideas are heard, please RSVP to Nielsen management by Tuesday, Oct. 27, emailing Ginger Conrad, exhibitor marketing manager, at ginger.conrad@nielsen.com.

--Therese Iknoian

SNEWS® View: We aren’t at all surprised by this move -- the show needs to be a viable business for the Nielsen company that runs it, and this year’s event was nearly embarrassing. We at SNEWS know the times have been tough in fitness, but we believe the industry did play a small hand in this action. Click here to see a July 1, 2009, editorial, “Is the industry killing its own show?” When nearly half the number of exhibiting companies are walking around the show without booths and meeting in the food court, it’s a slap in the face to those who paid to be on the floor. As the media sponsor, SNEWS will continue to be an advocate for the industry, relaying needs and messages to management and helping where and if it is needed, especially when it comes to education. However, if the industry wants a show, then it too must stand up and get together to support an event. That means, first, attending the web meeting on Oct. 29 and, second, supporting the decision that is made. If you have an opinion to share, you can also speak up now by clicking on the Chat link, below.

--SNEWS® Editors

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