GIS 2013

Another show come and gone. My 40th I believe as my first was in 1971 and I have only missed two since. I have watched the “show” go through a fairly stagnant stage to one of full speed ahead to a time of forlorn faces and pessimism to this year’s cautious optimism.

Though this year’s show was very nicely organized and looked good, I have to believe that the number of exhibitors and floor space rented has gone down substantially since the heady days. Unfortunately, it was our perception that the attendee numbers were down as well this year. We were very busy on Wednesday morning, relatively steady in the afternoon, slightly less on Thursday am and really dead on Thursday afternoon. The last hours of any and all shows are pretty slow so not unexpected. However, last year it seemed we were a good bit busier throughout.

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Wednesday AM before the distributor preview.

Sometimes we question the value of the show and the substantial cost, especially for the number of end-user customers (Superintendents) that “touch” our booth and/or personnel. However, we also consider the national show to be our international distributor meeting as we see a majority of those folks who bring our products to the marketplace, in the US and throughout the world.

I am not so sure most have any idea what goes into putting up a booth, so thought I would share our efforts. Three days ahead of the show (this year Sunday) three of our people will fly in to begin the process of taking the product and displays out of 8 crates and 2 pallets. Monday am two more will fly in as the set up continues and the rest of us on Tuesday to help with final arrangement of products and preparation for our visitors. We bring Tom and Gary who run our manufacturing operation for their production and materials expertise, Dawn as she is in communication with so many of our dealers on a regular basis, Dan and Scott who head up our sales and marketing and know many if not all of our dealers personally, Mike who primarily handles international affairs, and finally, me – I hand out the mints.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

The trade show hours average 10 hours a day and none of us are out of the booth for personal time except for a short lunch (usually a hot dog) and bathroom visits. It makes for a long time on one’s feet and our backs will further attest to it.

At the end of the second day, tear down begins with what we call the Velcro symphony, so named from the cacophony of pop up booths being stripped of their panels. It takes us (all 7 of us) roughly 5 hours from start of tear down to shipping labels on crates. This year we got our crates in relatively short order and thus not having to wait for them got us to a beer and pizza about an hour earlier than normal.

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Once back home the work begins. Following up on inquiries, product information, requests, as well as delving into product ideas presented and improvements suggested. It’s truly exhausting but there is a sense of excitement to it all as well. Till next year in Orlando.


GIS ’10

Another show come and gone. This year’s show was noticeably smaller in size and the number of attendees seemed lower as well. Nonetheless, we felt we had a good show with good interest in products, new and old.

This annual event offers such a great opportunity to greet old friends and make new. We use it as a dealer meeting, taking advantage of the convenience of greeting in one place  so many of our US and International dealers and customers, most of whom are good friends. And, of course, it is good to show products and field comments from Superintendents. We only wonder about the future of these trade shows. The demise of which is widely predicted and clearly regional shows have been getting smaller and smaller.

With education and product information readily available from the comfort of one’s office and the more than accommodating sales folk’s willingness to bring equipment to one’s course, the need to travel is becoming less important. Certainly the GCSAA sees this trend and has to be worried as so much of their budget is generated from this conference and show. From a personal point of view, we already are losing a lot of the personal interaction in life that adds so much. I would hate to see our relationship with dealers and customers become an exchange of electronic pulses.

The show is exhausting and expensive for those of us who exhibit but we do cherish the benefits just the same. Hope to see you in Orlando in ’11.

2009 Golf Industry Show – a week in the life of an exhibitor

Oh to only have had the Happy Feet booth at the GIS in New Orleans.  Now that guy was busy, mostly with exhibitors.  Standing around will do that.

The show attendance was definitely lower this year and it’s no wonder as New Orleans is typically not as good a draw as Orlando or San Diego, according to the GCSAA.  Then with the barrage of bad news and fear mongering we get daily from the big three networks…but that is for another blog.  The good news is that the lower numbers meant more time with those who were there.

So what’s it like to be an exhibitor at this show?  Well, it starts nearly right now (February) for Par Aide, for next year.  We are already thinking of what products we will display and how we will display them as we will be contacted within the next month or so to commit to a size and location in the San Diego show hall.  Booth space is chosen in an order determined by years in the industry and dollars spent with the GCSAA in numerous areas.  We fall within the top 30 of the 600+ exhibitors.  Once this step is completed, we turn our attention to the next year’s catalog.  Later in the year, we will book air travel, hotel rooms and even dinner reservations, arrange for freight, pick out show “uniforms”, and a myriad of other details.  Tremendous time is spent in preparation and dollars budgeted for this three day event.

 A moment to rest, amid the setting up chaos

A moment to rest, amid the setting up chaos.

To all of our buddies who think working a trade show is just another vacation, I would like to set the record straight.  It’s not.  It is definitely fun to make new friends and greet old ones, to introduce a product that excites the customers, and enjoy dinners out.  But the set up, tear down, and long hours on one’s feet is not how we would advertise a new sales position for our company.  None of us saw anything of New Orleans except what we could see from the bus, and of course, Bourbon Street, (which gets old after 2 nights walking through it, or maybe we’re just old).  None of us knew what the temp was druing the day or if it was sunny or storming.  However, we were very familiar with where to get a “good” coffee in the hall, what edible foods could be found where and the location of the bathrooms.

Towards the end of the three days, one can hear the “Velcro Symphony” warming up as those who have not seen a customer in 3 hours begin to dismantle their booths.  We, on the other hand, don’t even bother.  We know that we will be taking apart and packing our products for the return home for hours.  This year it was 6 hours.  This following 5 show hours.  We find a quick meal and head to bed.  For the first time in 3+ days we are not “on” but can’t even enjoy it.

Before you shed too many tears  for us, we do enjoy it all.  But, it’s NOT a vacation!