It's that time of year againâ€¦ The time of year we all love to hate. Trade show hell. Think Super Show, followed by Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, followed by ispo in Germany, followed by Magic, followed by SIA,â€¦ followed by a heavy round of drinking and a heck of a lot of introspection.
Granted, not everyone goes to so many shows â€“ only journalists in search of the hot story (yawn) could ever be so foolish. Still, we hear more and more these days that there are "too many damn trade shows!" On the other hand, consider these facts published in a recent article in Forbes looking at VNU:
"Spending on trade media and trade shows rose 7.5% to $23.1 billion last year and has been growing at a rate of 8.2% since 1995â€¦. VNU is currently the second-largest trade show company in the U.S. and trade shows are even more profitable than publications."
Little wonder, then, that for-profit and non-profit companies and associations such as VNU, SIA, SGMA, Club Industry, and ispo all cling tightly to the control of their respective trade show purse-strings. Each jostles the other with dates that force exhibitors and retailers to maintain a sometimes insane travel schedule and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on multiple booths, exhibit spaces, and rising shipping and staffing costs.
Consolidation is one solution for returning sanity to trade shows. We recently learned that SIA approached VNU on co-location of their shows. Apparently, VNU then tendered an offer to take over the management of SIA's trade show and combine it with the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. VNU also reportedly guaranteed SIA the profits they are currently making and offered to hold the entire show in Las Vegas, meaning Winter Market would leave snowy Salt Lake for sunnier skies.
As we see it, the upside of such a merging of shows would be less travel for retailers and manufacturers who attend both shows, less overall expense for those who attend both shows, more potential revenue for ORCAÂ which receives a share of trade show income and, most importantly, one less trade show to attend. The downside for current SIA exhibitors is their per-square-foot charge would increase from the present levels of between $11 and $12 to around $14 according to David Loechner, VNU Sports Group vice president â€“ still less than what VNU currently charges Winter Market attendees.
SIA for its part has already begun moving its dates earlier. As far as SNEWSÂ® is concerned, this is a good thing. It will return SIA to being the preview show it used to be, and fall in line with its plan to strengthen the regional rep shows and on-snow demos, which would return them to being the place where retailers place their orders.
To date, SIA has refused VNU's advances and David Ingemie told SNEWSÂ®: "We're in continued conversation with VNU as to what is best for the market. We have the Las Vegas Convention Center and dates are open to discussion."
Loechner informed SNEWSÂ® that since SIA turned down VNU's offer, there have been no discussions or calls from SIA, but VNU remains hopeful that discussions will continue.
SNEWSÂ® suggests that what is best for the all markets is fewer trade shows to attend and an increase in trade show efficiency. That would allow retailers to see vendors who sell into one market or the other, or into multiple markets, in a single location, not two. Whether or not that is possible remains in the hands of VNU and SIA.