“The consumer show industry is experiencing a paradigm shift,” said Robert Degenhart, show manager of the Buffalo Home & Garden Show and the Greater Rochester Home Show, both dmg world media consumer shows.
That shift, he said, is from the value of the show being measured by the number of attendees present to how many of them are qualified buyers. Degenhart added it isn't just his shows that are experiencing the change, it's the whole industry.
“I think that's very encouraging,” he said.
And all it takes to deal with that shift is a little creativity. That was the message from the keynote address by Bob Dallmeyer of RD Intl. during the Natl. Assn. of Consumer Shows Annual Convention held June 25-27 in San Diego.
Dallmeyer suggested several steps consumer show managers could take to increase buzz around their shows, including identifying growth opportunities in secondary markets, creating promotions and travel incentives, launching educational content and, perhaps most importantly, surveying attendees.
“I've believed in surveys ever since I got involved in the exhibition industry a long, long, long time ago,” Dallmeyer said.
That happened to be one of Dallmeyer's suggestions that Degenhart took.
According to Degenhart, his surveys show that attendees still find the home shows “extraordinarily worthwhile.”
Despite the problems in the housing market, he added his shows, which feature products for the home, gardening, remodeling and decor, have maintained strong attendance.
“People still own their homes,” Degenhart said. And in the current real estate market, his attendees are hanging onto those homes instead of buying new ones, meaning they're renovating and making repairs.
“It's an opportunity for those organizations to capitalize,” Degenhart said.
And while that opens up new avenues for exhibitors at shows, he added, “We as show producers have to prove that (to them).”
Dallmeyer also suggested adding pertinent content – especially about the economy and environmental issues – to existing shows.
“These are parallel areas that you can augment your shows with,” he added. “Green opportunities are a good opportunity for you.”
Jenn Kampmeier, founder of Bebe Paluzza Productions, said she is using the growing interest in sustainability in an effort to attract more attendees to her show with a Green Pavilion, launching at IndyBabyExpo Oct. 11-12 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Exposition Hall in Indianapolis.
“As a parent, I want the best for my child, which means using eco-friendly products,” Kampmeier added. “I am trying to ensure that my child has a wonderful life and environment to grow up in.”
Those who said they already had realized that green was good for their shows also said they weren't having any attendee or exhibitor retention difficulties.
Jennifer Anthony, meeting planner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's operational support division, said the agency's consumer show, Living Green Expo, held May 3-4 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minn., already is turning away exhibitors for next year's show though, “we do have a harder time getting commitments from exhibitors on the national level.”
She said she's had a lot of exhibitors sign up for sponsorships, though, something she's seeing more exhibitors interested in.
Growing sponsorship revenue is another avenue Dallmeyer suggested to consumer show managers to increase revenue.
“Companies today are looking at their bottom line,” he added. Dallmeyer proposed customizing sponsorships to exhibitors to demonstrate ROI.
He also suggested attracting attendees by marketing to generational differences and offering significant promotions.
“We're fighting for the attention of everyone,” Dallmeyer added.
Kampmeier is doing both. Her show includes exhibitors with products for expectant parents up to those with toddlers, but parents aren't the only demographic she markets to, she said.
“We cater to the grandparents in special ways such as speaker topics, services and, of course, great prizes that they can win,” Kampmeier added. “For example, (exhibitor) Graco has donated a complete set of baby equipment for one grandparent to win.”
She said she decided to involve grandparents because many are taking an active role helping to raise their grandchildren or are raising their grandchild.
Overall, though, Dallmeyer said he thinks the outlook is good for consumer shows.
“I honestly feel they will remain healthy this year,” he added.
Author: Stephanie Corbin