But this in no way means we are simply resting on our laurels, believing that exhibitors and visitors appear at IOG SALTEX as if by magic! From the very moment that one year’s IOG SALTEX closes, we are working to improve on that year’s performance, considering areas and aspects of the show that can be improved, and taking into account the needs of exhibitors and visitors alike to enable us to consistently produce a first-class show.
Of course, as the organiser of IOG SALTEX we are constantly open to scrutiny by the trade and 2010 is no different. This year, certain quarters are calling for ‘one show’ (a term, I suspect, the BBC may already have copyrighted), so let’s look at the argument. Having attended a meeting recently with representatives from around 10 companies ranging in size and principally from our turf care sector, it is evident that there is a degree of frustration and a view that the current format of IOG SALTEX and Harrogate’s BTME – and, to a lesser extent, IOG Scotsturf - are not providing what some companies expect.
Whether you agree with this view or not, the IOG will always consider viewpoints and we are always happy to discuss how we can improve on what we do already. We will always consider constructive dialogue and we respect the view of others.
Ever since taking up my post as CEO of the IOG, IOG SALTEX has been subject to some interesting challenges, not least when some companies decided to attend on a biennial basis. However, such a move is, of course, a strategic decision from a sales and marketing perspective. Conversely, we’re also told that companies which attend each year also benefit directly from the non-attendance of others!
Initially, this of course did impact the income of the show, but over the past few years we have worked hard to develop relationships within the industry so that we can re-invest in IOG SALTEX on an ongoing basis. Ideally, of course, we welcome and encourage companies to attend each year, but we cannot dictate their sales and marketing policies - all we can do is try and provide a professional show for companies that do attend.
IOG SALTEX has on average over 400 exhibitors each year representing various sectors. The decision to attend or not will depend on the product range, size of business, available budgets, what the competition is doing and the economic outlook.
The fact is IOG SALTEX is a diverse show operating across more than just its traditional turf care roots. Our industry has changed (and continues to change) and IOG SALTEX has changed with it. While we understand current frustrations, and are aware of how the advances in technology and approaches to marketing are undergoing rapid change, the consensus view is that IOG SALTEX as a trade show consistently delivers, for both exhibitors and visitors alike.
For an event to stand the test of time, as IOG SALTEX has done, is probably a trade show record – and it’s a record that the IOG is justifiably proud of and is keen to continue.
Indeed, we're already planning for next year's event (!) and even now the encouraging level of stand space bookings for IOG SALTEX 2011 augers well.
Yes, there will be times when company A does less well than company B, but is this due to the show itself or the competition at the show, or is it a reflection of the products in comparison with other products? Likewise, what are the outside influencing factors that affect sales on site at the show? This year, of course, we face unprecedented cuts by Government and we are hearing of cuts within the play sector. So, will next year witness a drop in activity and sales opportunities, as local authorities trim budgets and no doubt staff?
Although a large part of our focus this year has been on finding new sources of buyers for all sectors represented at IOG SALTEX, including play, historically 75 per cent of visitors to the show have come from outside the public sector. It is not surprising that those who make a decision to attend the show do so because it actually works for them.
Equally, we respect the fact that others wish to try new opportunities: but a warning - the exhibition industry is littered with examples of shows that are facing challenges, and in many cases what appears greener on the other side is not necessarily the case.
So, let me categorically state that IOG SALTEX 2011 IS taking place and will definitely be open for business - lots of it - as usual!
Chief Executive, Institute of Groundmanship