Another “show” come and gone, number 41 for me (first one in 1971, missed two since). Nothing much changes; set up, long hours on one’s feet, tear down. And, contrary to what my friends think, it is not all fun and games. In fact, might be the hardest work of the year between stress in what might come up or be seen and being “on” for two days and three nights.
My purpose here is to try to stimulate some thought based on some things I heard and some thoughts I have had for some time.
The times are certainly a changing or maybe just continuing on a course that is found in almost all industries; less and less interest in trade shows. While attendance was supposedly up, it sure seemed down to us though not by a lot. And clearly, while the GCSAA claims to have sold more square feet than last year, it is not hard to see that the scope of the show is considerably less than in days gone by. More than one person remarked how they could easily see from one end of the hall to the other.
So what is the cause?
- Surely the golf economy has affected budgets.
- Superintendents are more reluctant to leave their courses.
- He/she has the ability to get answers to turf questions and/or the latest information and/or reviews of various products are readily available over the internet.
- Many manufacturers do not save their new product introductions for the show as in past years. Now, new products are introduced as soon as ready.
- And, maybe most alarmingly, the CGCS designation is seemingly losing a little bit of its importance as the general hiring doesn’t put the value in it. This is a shame and if true, minimizes the value of the education which has always been such a big draw.
Obviously, from a manufacturer’s viewpoint, fewer customers affect its willingness to spend more and more money on the show. I believe that Par Aide’s booth space (just the concrete we rent for our booth) was around $36,000. Add to that the cost of carpet, shipping, time lost in production and sales, hotel rooms, airfares, entertainment, and etc, and one cannot help but question the costs vs value. However, for Par Aide, the GIS is truly an international sales meeting and that combined with seeing the customers/friends and supporting the industry makes it hard for us to not participate as we do.
However, here is a suggestion that is not new and maybe worth reconsidering. Should the GIS be held every 18 months?
My thinking is that this might make attendance more palatable to owners and greens committees. It might become a more special event to not be missed. Manufacturers would probably be willing to pay more (we have talked even double for booth space) as ½ of all the other above mentioned expenses would be halved over two years. I have to think that distributors would see the same savings.
Perhaps more importantly, the show could then move around the Country to northern cities when the dates fell in the Spring thru Fall months. The required show square footage has now dropped to a level where smaller show halls around the Country could easily accommodate us, which was not the case a number of years ago. I have to believe that the same three locations alternating does reduce some participation. And, the golf tournament might have far more flexibility in nearby locales.
Many years ago, there was a publication that was feared would try to develop a show on the off years when the GCSAA was being urged to consider an every other year event. Obviously, that was not going to be accommodated. That risk doesn’t really exist now and 18 months would not allow for it anyway.
So anyway, is it time to reconsider? Obviously, I am not privy to discussions within the GCSSA on this subject and there could be numerous reasons it doesn’t work. Additionally, the decision must be influenced by the big companies which carry the show on its back.
Any thoughts out there? Especially from Superintendents. After all, you are why we exist.