The three acquisitions that Emerald Expositions made in the space of a month and a half captured the tradeshow industry’s attention. However, another move by Emerald during the same period that provoked less comment may tell us more about the future of the industry than a few additions to its portfolio do.
A couple of weeks ago, Emerald announced it would be shifting the dates of its two Outdoor Retailer Markets AND adding a third Winter Expo in January 2019. So, eventually, there will be three Outdoor Retailer markets, in January, June and November of each year.
Emerald officials said they surveyed the industry and this is exactly what it wants.
SnowSports Industries America, which typically runs the SIA Snow Show every January in Denver? Apparently, Emerald didn’t include its leaders in the survey, because it isn’t exactly what they want.
SIA President Nick Sargent said, “We feel that this will result in unnecessary stress and economic duress on the suppliers and retailers — not only for SIA members, but across all winter outdoor stakeholders.”
At first glance, it seems like a gutsy move to launch what would be a fourth outdoor sports-related show in what appears to be a relatively small marketplace. How many of these annual events do suppliers and retailers really need?
Or could it be that the for-profit organizer believes it has a better sense of what the industry wants than the trade association that purports to represent it? Could the real motive be to take advantage of a weak association and supplant SIA’s show?
If so, and if Emerald is successful, it will not be the first or last time a nimble for-profit has had its ear closer to the ground than the traditional association show.
Associations are in a bind today. With membership dwindling, along with dues revenue, they are forced to rely more and more on their events to generate income. However, membership-driven associations remain sufficiently resistant to change and innovation, putting their event organizers in a bind: Deliver more dollars, but don’t spend more money doing it…and don’t make anybody mad!
Look across the association landscape and you’ll see those who are making exciting moves with their event portfolios – the Natl. Assn. of Broadcasters and the Consumer Technology Assn., to single out two – are acting entrepreneurially. Those that aren’t are having their lunch eaten by the old-fashioned kinds of entrepreneurs, those in the for-profit sector.
Michael Hart is a business consultant and writer who focuses on the events industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hart will moderate a webinar Nov. 30 for association executives entitled, “4 Easy Ways to Generate Non-Dues Revenue.”