With the steam inside the Hilton New York Hotel just north of Radio City Music Hall matching the 90-plus degree days outside, Club Industry East proved to be a red-hot show as more than 3,000 attendees took in the several floors of exhibits, seminars and panels, according to preliminary numbers from show management.
"We always expect more than 3,000 attendees at our New York City show. We had great attendance in our conferences and panels, several of which were standing-room only," show director Zari Stahl told SNEWSÂ®. "Those who attended the trade show weren't disappointed either as we sold out the Hilton for the first time since 1999."
That sell-out resulted in 119 companies taking about 276 booths on three floors of the Hilton.
While that three-floor layout can be tough to navigate, Stahl said that traffic was good, plus it was helped along by refreshment breaks, among other things, to move traffic to different areas to help navigation and crowds.
While Club Industry East has never been a premier show for product launches, it continues to be a way -- with the exception of the Athletic Business show held annually in Florida in November or December -- for vendors from all regions to reach club owners, managers and personal trainers who for one reason or another don't venture from the East Coast to attend the national shows so often held west of the Mississippi.
"The traffic has been good," Steve Rhodes of Paramount told SNEWSÂ®. "It is a great way for us to show our product line and touch base with our customers from the East Coast."
That was the same sentiment shared by Frank Bentkowski of Fitness Equipment Source, who was at the show manning the booths of several lines he reps through his company.
"This show is really a great chance to meet with so many regional managers and buyers in one spot," he told SNEWSÂ® while holding court in the Body Masters booth on the first day of the trade show. "There is a real excitement here that I haven't seen in a while. It has been a very strong show."
Gym Source was another retailer with a major presence with a small army of staffersÂ -- this time staffing its own large booth space showing off several commercial lines, led by Cybex.
"We have been so busy all show with a constant stream of traffic," said Behzad Amiri, marketing director of Gym Source. "Being from the city, this is a great way to show the lines we carry to a lot of local customers and potential customers."
Stahl added that it is this regional aspect that makes the Club Industry East show valuable to both attendees and vendors.
"About 90 percent of the attendees are from the Northeast, but it is a huge market for the fitness facility industry," she said. "The New York market is so important to vendors from both coasts that it makes the show attractive to them."
SNEWSÂ® View: While the layout of the Hilton leaves something to be desired -- a vendor on the third floor could easily be lost in the shuffle -- the constant flow over the first two days kept most exhibitors happy. The flow was helped out by free refreshment breaks on the various floors, especially when the offering was ice cream or other junk food! Those wandering the floors -- often seeing equipment that was new to them, perhaps, although shown previously at other shows -- brought high energy and created a buzz that had many tell us they were hopeful the industry was primed for a boom. Despite the upbeat nature and show strength, it is unclear what will become of Club Industry East; its parent company, Primedia Business Magazines & Media, sits on the block, and buzz is aloft of individual groups looking to snatch the Club Industry properties independent of the company sale. Nevertheless, the continued strong conference and vendor presence makes it a valuable show to those that can't make it to events in other regions. Next year, the show moves to Philadelphia, and we'll be interested to see if the company can build on this year's numbers and energy when it heads out of Manhattan.