Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trade Show Bob Reports from IFT

Our colleague, "Trade Show Bob" Milam, reports from Anaheim and the International Food Technology Show:

"The Annual Meeting and Food Expo of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) was held June 7-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Despite the absence of four major "anchor" exhibitors (Kraft Food Ingredients, Kerry Ingredients, Wixon, and Tate & Lyle), and amid dire predictions of drastic attendance declines (made mostly by self-purported food industry "experts") most exhibitors experienced extremely positive results.

Attendance numbers were reported as follows:

  • Exhibitor badges were down sharply, due to the absence of several large exhibiting companies
  • Attendee badges (the buyers) were reported to be at 103% of 2008 levels (when the show was in New Orleans)
  • Expo only badges were up 125% from 2008.

No doubt some of this increase was due to the absent exhibitors "suitcasing" the show, however, the floor traffic remained strong and steady, even up through the final hour of the show.

Most exhibitors I spoke with fell into one of two categories ...

  1. The Eeyore's. These exhibitors were firmly convinced that they would not have a good show, and they worked hard to prove themselves right. One example in particular involved an exhibitor who complained about being placed too close to his direct competitor, who he claimed was "stealing" all his visitors. When I asked him why he didn't highlight his points of difference that makes his company/products unique, his response to me was "we have all the accounts we need". I wasn't able to be much help here.
  2. The Pleasantly Surprised. Many exhibitors are catching on to the new attendee paradigm emerging at the shows I've recently attended. Attending companies are indeed sending fewer people to the shows, but they're not sending less work or projects. The posse size shrinks, but the workload remains. This translates into attendees with agendas, and no time to waste. Exhibitors who recognize this, work to get on dance cards, quickly sift thru the crowd, find the "whales"and succinctly deliver their messages.

The buying plans are there. The business is there, but it requires a different mindset to find it and get it. Doing things the "same old way" or "knee jerk" bailing out of shows (which is different than leaving for well thought out business reasons) will cause many companies to win d up like GM. Personally, I'm hitching my star to the companies who are smart enough to think differently in these different times.

FYI, space at the 2010 IFT is already 95% sold out."

Thanks, Bob, for a clear report. Sounds like business is rebounding and recovering, at least in this industry.


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