The regionally oriented Club Industry East trade show May 12-14 played out this year in a bright and airy convention center in Baltimore, Md., instead of numerous hotel ballrooms in a New York hotel, and an eagerness to buy seemed to tell exhibitors the industry was getting back into shape, too.
SNEWSÂ® talked to a number of exhibitors and other attendees to size up the feel and traffic, which most told us was "steady" or "moderate." With this year's show in Baltimore in one large high-ceiling room and last year's in New York in various smaller rooms, most said it was hard to make a true comparison.
"This show was well-attended," said Chuck Alchermes of Landice. "The amount of traffic over the three days was consistent and steady. There was never really a lull when no one was there -- except the last few hours of the last day.
"After this and the IHRSA show (late March), I think the industry is back on track," Alchermes added.
John Salvitti, president of Strive Smart Strength, concurred. "The market is on the rebound. The traffic showed that a little bit, with more people appearing to be ready to buy."
Others noted there weren't as many lookie-loos, but more with the intent to buy.
"I think we did more business than expected -- good quality traffic," said Tony Roderick of FreeMotion Fitness. "Everybody was there with a purpose."
Official materials pre-show noted the event hosts about 130 exhibitors and 3,500 attendees. The last exhibitor update on the website showed just over 110 exhibitors, which can change in the days right before in any direction. In addition, Club Industry East runs a simultaneous educational conference (May 11-14), which a few exhibitors noted caused some peaks and valleys -- when sessions were in, the floor was slower, for example.
In addition, with the show more southerly on the coast in Baltimore, it seemed to attract more attendance from that area, including Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania and Virginia. The show also seemed to bring in a lot of "day-tripping" attendees rather than overnighters because of the urban area. Â
In a long and wide hall -- compared to this year's cigar-skinny hall at the IHRSA show in Las Vegas in March -- the front row was played out with the regulars: Life Fitness, Precor, Nautilus, FreeMotion Fitness, Star Trac, Paramount, as well as SciFit and Woodway. Most seemed to have more conservative booths than the spectacles at IHRSA, some skipping even walls and backboards or, in some cases, second stories and a row of meeting rooms.
Next year's Club Industry East show will return to New York at the New York Hilton, where it gets spread between upstairs and downstairs ballrooms. Dates nearly a month later than this year -- June 9-11 -- will put a bit more of a buffer between itself and the IHRSA show, which is a bit earlier, March 16-19. The annual Club Industry show is Oct. 14-16 in Chicago.