Reed Exhibitions has removed itself as owner of the Ontario PGA Show, citing the need to focus its resources on the international platform of the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Reed bought the Ontario show in 2001 for a reported price of just over $1-million and during that time, exhibitors and attendees have dwindled and the show has transformed from big booth to a pipe-and-drape production.
“I don’t know if we were expecting it necessarily this year, but we’ve definitely been anticipating a shakeup with respect to the show,” said Scott Pritchard, associate director of the Ontario PGA.
“To say that Reed came and said they’re going to focus on the (Orlando) PGA Show and their other initiatives no, that wasn’t a surprise,” he added.
“It’s not a secret in the industry that our show has been declining in overall support,” added Pritchard. “We’re looking to move in a positive direction that’s going to meet the needs of every stakeholder, more specifically our members and the industry.”
John McGeary, Reed’s PGA Golf Exhibitions Industry vice president, added that he will lend his support to efforts by the association in transition, adding that the Ontario show continues to serve the needs of the industry.
“We’ve had a really good run of it. We enjoyed having the show as part of our portfolio,” he said.
“We’re refocusing our efforts really on our PGA Merchandise Show and the Fall Expo (in Las Vegas),” said McGeary, adding that Reed will continue to host its annual Canadian golf industry reception in Orlando.
McGeary added that Ontario had slightly more companies at the 2010 show compared to last year, but admitted that there were challenges.
“It was kind of headed back in the right direction. It was pretty close to the same size as it was in 2009. Obviously, we’re not bringing the revenue we used bring on it, but it served the needs of the marketplace,” he said.
“We wouldn’t produce the event if we were losing money, so we still made money on the show. It wasn’t a losing proposition,” said McGeary.
Whether it was making enough money is the question. The writing appeared to be on the wall about a year ago when Reed closed its Toronto office and moved back to headquarters in Norwalk, Conn., but McGeary says that was done for other reasons.
“It was more of a portfolio issue at the time. It didn’t make sense to keep two different teams working in the same industry. The size and the scope of the portfolio that we had in Canada didn’t support us having an office anymore. It was much more efficient for the core U.S. team to produce the events.”
Pritchard says the split with Reed was amicable, but adds the show faces several challenges as the marketplace evolves in several ways. One of the primary concerns going forward is the October dates of the show.
“Part of the decline of the show is that the deadlines for placing orders, mainly for soft goods, are very aggressive in that their deadlines are towards the end of August, if not earlier. Our show then becomes irrelevant and that’s exactly what’s happened,” he said.
“The timing of the show in Ontario does not work. We’d like to move it. Let’s put it this way – it’s got to be in the real buying season. It’s got to be in the time frame of when buying actually takes place,” said Pritchard, adding that summer dates are a possibility.
“We’re going to explore a number of different options and the summer will probably be one of the options explored,” he said.
McGeary agrees that a change in date is necessary.
“Moving forward, what Scott or whatever producer he chooses to hire or if he runs the show himself, they will definitely have to address the date issue. The show no longer reflects the optimum buying cycle within the marketplace,” he said.
“As the market changes and buying cycles change, that’s something that I think the entire Canadian market’s going to have to look at,” said McGeary.