After a 2004 show that was vacuous and devoid of energy, management of The Super Show along with incoming SGMA President Tom Cove knew something had to be done.
This year, the show, Jan. 17-19, for the second consecutive year at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., won't ignore exhibitors on the show floor but will try to infuse energy and education -- and attract more attendees -- by adding layers of elements that include daily keynote addresses with a lunch, after-hours onsite networking parties by category, and nearly three full days of seminars and talks to allow attendees to mix product perusal with industry insights. The show has also been dubbed the "International Sports Product Experience" to try to encompass all of the new elements.
"The perception of last year was, the show wasn't great, it seemed dead," said Director Peter Haines. "I think this year people will say, 'The Super Show is about the same, but they're giving me a great value, and I'm coming back.'
"I think there will be more buzz," said Haines, who realizes the show won't do a 360-degree turnaround in one year, but needs to prove itself this year to get people back in greater numbers in 2006.
This year, it seems, is about re-invention, and transforming the show once again into an industry rallying point.
Said one former attendee, "It's a shame what the show has become." That's the person that management hopes to convince it may not be what it was, but it's something new and different that's still worth the effort.
>> Exhibitors are coming back, but to a smaller show area: The entire show floor willÂ shrink by about 25 percent, from nearly 1 million square feet last year to about 750,000 square feet this year.
The fitness segment won't be empty either. Not in the least, with the likes of Horizon, Fitness Master, Bladez, TKO, Fitness Quest, Gaiam, Ball Dynamics, Ironman, Danskin Fitness, Hoist, Spri, Nautilus and York. Still, it's likely more a chance for meetings than getting a peek at loads of new product since fitness manufacturers say the timing just ain't grand for that. Oh, and Icon will again be there, we're told, but in a private room like last year, and the company isn't even on the exhibitor list with a room number.
>> The former "World of Sports Innovation" will become the "World of New Product Innovation." It will also be smaller, with Haines admitting they were over-eager in the space allotted last year, making it seem pretty barren. It will be in the center of the floor wrapped around the center cement supports. If you gotta go the bathroom, you gotta walk past it. That's one way to get people there. Exhibitors in that area so far include Makoto, Superior Fitness Products, Fitness Caddy, Body Up Fitness, Cramer and The Stick, among others. SNEWSÂ® will take a good look since it can host the good, as well as the bad and even the ugly. But always worth a spin.
>> Parties? You got 'em, and if there's free food and drink, you just betcha there will be attendees. Ten each night of two nights, five on each side of the center with live bands. "We want everybody to go," Haines said.
>> Seminars are scheduled all day, the first two days, and most of the day the last day. So whether you want a break and a place to sit down, or you want to catch up on the latest on sports and marketing topics, it's worth checking out the seminars called the "International Business Intelligence Series." You'll find everything from an anti-aging update, briefs on various ethnic or age groups, to marketing insights and a focus on retail trends. Haines realizes they must prove themselves a bit this year to try to hedge toward more participation and growth in coming years. He said he wants attendees to grade the show (www.thesupershow.com) on the numbers attending, the vibrancy and excitement on the floor, how many people stay for more of the day rather than bail to go play golf, and, of course, how many attend seminars or after-hours parties.
Incoming SGMA President Cove told SNEWSÂ® in December that the industry needs a place to gather, but the traditional trade show is a bit of a dinosaur, and that "the show floor is not the end-all, be-all."
He alsoÂ told SNEWSÂ® that the event with its additions that go beyond exhibits is "getting some tremendous reaction," pointing to booking rates in the fall that were about double since they announced the new format.
"There is excitement," he said, "and buyers are saying, 'We want to give this a shot.'"