More than 20 manufacturers joined the sales and management team of the Health & Fitness Business Expo in a conference call on Oct. 29, 2009, to listen to the HFB team explain the show’s future.
Although no announcement about the show for 2010 was made, the management team illustrated with bar charts the decline in the last five years in buyers, stores, exhibitors, and square footage to better explain the need for a change. In addition, the show team explained top choices, including what it sees as the No. 1 choice: co-location with the Interbike show in late September, which is another show managed by the same team.
“While we understand that a clear resolution has yet to be reached,” show director Andy Tompkins told SNEWS® after the meeting, “we wanted to begin our dialogue with the industry to discuss various options for future events.”
This year's "micro-show" drew much debate and discussion. Click here to see a SNEWS Aug. 11, 2009, story, "Small show draws mixed reaction, paves way for 2010 changes."
Since about 2005, the show has declined in almost all area by nearly two-thirds: Buyers are down 65 percent, store numbers are down 62 percent, and attendance is down about 65 percent. Exhibitor numbers too are down nearly 60 percent since their peak in 2004 of 145 (62 brands had booths in 2009).
“You see a concern in the trajectory in what the show is delivering to exhibitors,” said Tompkins, during the call. “We can agree there is some change necessary.”
Tompkins, who is group show director for HFB, as well as Interbike and Action Sports Retailer for Nielsen Business Media, then presented options for the future, noting the Nielsen Business Media company that operates and owns the HFB show is committed to it.
“We’re looking at changing the model dramatically,” he told attendees of the 30-minute call, “but we want to serve your needs.”
Choices outlined by the HFB team in the call included:
>> A hotel-based, fitness-only show – As a small show, it would have the ease of moving from city-to-city easily. It could offer a sophisticated educational track and lower exhibitor costs with smaller-scale booths and more meetings. “The skies the limit as to the possibilities,” Tompkins explained. He mentioned the Hard Rock in Las Vegas as a potential venue, but it could rotate annually.
>> Co-locate with Outdoor Retailer – Nielsen Business Media also operates and owns the huge, 4,000-square-foot-plus Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, with the summer show each year in early August drawing about 5,000 retail attendees. Although a dynamic show with a passionate audience and some fitness-related product such as hydration, apparel and pedometers, the city is impacted by the large attendance and show size.
>> Co-locate with Interbike – Not only owned by the same company but also operated by Tompkins’ group, Interbike in Las Vegas attracts a large audience and was one of few shows that didn’t shrink due to the economy. It claims 10,000 retail attendees from bike and bike/fitness shops. Although bike chains and specific gear may be unrelated, nutrition, apparel, hydration and other products offer cross-over interest. The disadvantage is, the dates in later September. “It is later in the cycle and it could prove a challenge to production cycles,” Tompkins said.
Interbike top choice
Although not firmly stated in the conference call, it was clear by the reasons presented for a co-location with Interbike that the HFB team leans in that direction. In addition, Tompkins told SNEWS after the call:
“It is our opinion that the industry would best be served by partnering with Interbike, as the annual gathering of the cycling marketplace in Las Vegas attracts thousands of buyers that sell fitness product,” he wrote in an email.
During the call, he explained that Interbike, which will be Sept. 22-24, 2010, has the most similar audience. Show statistics show that 27 percent of attendees, which translates into 1,134 stores, sell fitness gear or related equipment. This year, there were nearly 12,000 total buyers representing 4,200 stores, including not only specialty, but also sporting goods, mass and club stores.
“That would be more stores than we’ve ever had at Health & Fitness Business,” he said. “We’d be tapping into a broad base.”
Decision in 30 days
Starting Nov. 2, a large group of exhibitors will be called individually by members of the HFB management and sales team to get individual feedback and opinions, including comments on a possible co-location with Interbike. Tompkins said the company is shooting for an announcement before Thanksgiving.
“We look forward to working directly with our exhibitors and key industry influencers to determine the best course of action in 2010 and beyond,” he said in a follow-up email to SNEWS.
During a short question-and-answer period at the end of the call, one attendee asked about co-location with the National Strength and Conditioning Association summer show, while another asked if shows like Club Industry or Athletic Business had been considered. Another mentioned partnering with a show that offers counter-seasonal products. Several said they felt Interbike was the best choice, although one said that a stand-alone, fitness-only show was still his top choice because of the lack of distractions.
The time is now for feedback: SNEWS survey open
Tompkins asked that anybody interested in offering opinions call or email him, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 949-226-5750.
In addition, for any segment of the industry that wants to offer comments, SNEWS has just launched a five-question, multiple-choice survey asking about the specific options presented. We will summarize the results in another story and share key nuggets of information with the HFB management if it could be helpful to them. We’d especially like feedback from retailers too since the HFB group is not at this time going to retailers for comments.
Click here to get started on the SNEWS survey about the show’s future. And feel free to pass it to colleagues and others in the industry. We will leave it open through Tuesday, Nov. 10.