T’is the season to be grumpy.
At least, that’s traditionally the case in the wake of the Canadian buying shows each year as November is usually reserved for grumbling from exhibitors about expenses, time spent at the shows, not enough buyers … etc., etc.
Despite a commonly-held belief that things haven’t changed much even with all that bellyaching over the years, the evolution of the shows continues next year when British Columbia and Manitoba go pipe-and-drape, leaving only Ontario and the successful Alberta event as full booth shows.
The definition of a pipe and drape goes beyond small booths and the overall look of the show. It is also defined by the absence of head office personnel, who have the local sales reps looking after show business in their absence.
“We’re happy with those changes and I think, generally speaking, we’re happy with the turnout from the pros and their ability to buy,” said Keith Keindel, executive director of the Canadian Golf Industry Association.
“Looking at the general economic conditions, I think people are pretty pleased with what’s happened.”
There are exceptions to every rule and this year that is Ontario, where exhibitors were informed that the show would be trimmed back from three days to two next year, but they would be paying more for it.
Reed Exhibitions, which operates the show, threw in some value-added incentives, which many exhibitors said they didn’t want.
To go along with that news, exhibitors were also disappointed in the turnout. The show started strongly the first day, but an afternoon beer garden drew many buyers off the show floor. The following day, carts wheeled around dispensing beer and chicken wings to a noticeably thinner crowd.
At that point, exhibitors were turning away Reed’s attempts to talk to them about next year’s show and the concerns were brought up at a CGIA meeting. The final day of the show had sparse crowds with an early afternoon closing. The education seminars that were held during show hours were also a contentious issue.
It looked like this could be a similar situation to a couple of years ago when exhibitors had a showdown with the Quebec PGA over lack of attendance and buying that nearly led to the Quebec show being boycotted.
However, Keindel says he has since met with show manager John McGeary of Reed and Scott Pritchard of the Ontario PGA and says there is a desire to resolve the issues. Keindel is expecting to have things worked out within two weeks.
“I would say that Reed has been very responsive to our concerns and we’re working well with them,” said Keindel.
“If we’re going to a two-day show next year, then what we wanted to make sure was that, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., there weren’t other things booked that were going to distract the pros, to make them available to the manufacturers,” he added.
“At this juncture, the feeling is that the two days will be fine as long as it’s the full two days. Our request would be, for example, that if there’s going to be an awards night, that it be held on the second day of the show, so that everybody’s there for the full length of the show.
“The key is that there has to be a need in the minds of the Ontario pros. They have to feel that they need to attend the show and that’s something they’ve got to work out with the zone management,” said Keindel.