Through all of the discussions and arguments that have surrounded the Canadian buying shows, and there have been plenty of them over the years, several changes have been made as a result.
Many of them have downsized from big booth to smaller pipe-and-drape rep shows.
This year, the Ontario PGA show was moved from October to August and to a new venue at the Toronto Congress Centre. B.C. would like to do two shows in 2011, one in August and the other in November and in Vancouver, instead of Penticton.
Despite all of these changes, the main problem that has haunted the shows over the years still exists in the eyes of member companies within the Canadian Golf Industry Association and it won’t be cured by date and/or venue changes, according to that association’s executive director Keith Keindel.
“The issue is that, from our members’ perspective, they made a decision some years ago that their primary focus is to support the shows that are put on by each of the zones,” said Keindel.
Those shows became revenue-producers for each zone, but in many cases, the pros weren’t responding by buying or attending the shows, which became a common complaint among the exhibitors.
“Part of that focus is that the events have got to be attended. There’s got to be some economic reason for being there from the manufacturers’ perspective. It’s not just showing up – there’s got to be a reason to be there and that’s either writing orders or confirming orders or showing product to people,” said Keindel.
“Unfortunately, it you get 50-60-70 companies showing up, there are multiple reps and you’ve only got 35 or 40 pros, there’s an awful lot of downtime, right?” added Keindel, pointing out that problem is not common to all zone buying shows.
“You come to a show like Alberta or Winnipeg, where there’s certainly enough pros showing up for the number of people who are exhibiting, it makes sense to be there. It’s no more complicated than that,” he said.
However, B.C. and Ontario are chronic sore points with exhibitors due to the lack of attendance over the years. It was felt by those zones that by moving the shows to different dates would encourage buyers to attend while they still have a full staff at their operations instead of the skeleton crews that remain in the fall.
There are no guarantees that will happen.
Keindel sat down with Ontario PGA president Dustin Kerr-Taylor – who feels his members will support the show with its new dates and venue – last Thursday to discuss these concerns and the CGIA board of directors is expected to meet with the Ontario board in early June.
According to Keindel, a letter was also sent to the PGA of British Columbia in late April, but he has yet to hear back from B.C.
The positive news is the same as in a labour negotiation – they’re still talking, at least in Ontario, and we’ll see what happens, but after format, date and venue changes, the more things change, the more they stay the same as it stands right now.
“If the customers aren’t showing up, then it really doesn’t matter – why are you going to the show?” asked Keindel. “It doesn’t matter what time of year it is – if you can’t get enough people to come out, then why be there?”