The show organizers are offering a more extensive hosted buyer program, presenting a new booth and pricing structure, and moving the sourcing category into a separate show that will be co-located with Outdoor Retailer.
These changes go into effect in 2024 with Outdoor Retailer Summer in June. The upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Nov. 14-16 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City will keep its existing format.
“We’ve spent a lot of time over the last two years listening to brands, exhibitors, retailers, and a lot of the industry to try to find out what we can do better and what they need,” said Sean Smith, Outdoor Retailer acting show director.
“We are going to provide solutions for bringing brands, retailers, and the overall industry together.”
The Daily spoke with Smith about the specific changes, the show’s struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of trade shows for the outdoor industry.
Hosted Buyer Program
Over the past two years, the biggest piece of feedback the Outdoor Retailer team received was that brands wanted to see more buyers from more categories at the shows. At the same time, retailers said they want to see more diversity of brands, Smith said.
To accommodate those requests, OR is making a substantial investment to bring more buyers to the shows.
Starting with the 2024 summer show, buyers can apply to the program to help offset travel costs.
“We’re going to invest to ensure we’re bringing the retailers the brands need to see,” Smith said.
That means OR will help with travel costs to support key buyers’ attendance, he added. Smith said that while funds are robust for the program, they are also limited. Smith encouraged retailers to apply early for these funds, but noted that retailers who aren’t able to secure funds are still encouraged to participate in Outdoor Retailer.
Responding to feedback from brands, OR will also have dedicated hours on the floor for retail buyers.
These moves come after this year’s summer show in June saw a new layout where the floor plan was organized by category, including camping, climbing, and water sports. That will continue for future shows.
Outdoor Retailer has also adjusted its timing to hold events at the beginning of the seasonal sales cycles, with the winter show now in November and the summer show in June.
New Booth and Pricing Structure
Outdoor Retailer is also offering streamlined booth space options and a new pricing menu in 2024 to simplify the process of participating in the event.
New booth space options, including a pre-built turnkey space, will be capped at a maximum size.
Some companies worry that if the booth isn’t as large as it used to be then people will think the company is struggling, Smith added. The booth-size restriction will help eliminate that problem.
The previous pricing structure used to be “quite complicated,” Smith said. “There were so many different rates and ways to get into a booth.”
To help designers and product developers connect with sourcing and supply exhibitors, OR has expanded the sourcing category into its own show that will be co-located with Outdoor Retailer. This expanded event, is called Outdoor Design + Innovation (ODI).
Exhibitors at ODI will include domestic and international suppliers of raw materials along with businesses offering manufacturing and sustainability technology across the supply chain.
“We believe there’s an opportunity to support the outdoor industry in finding inspiration and innovation in performance materials to move the whole industry forward,” Smith added.
The trade show business paused during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person events were put on hold, but events are bouncing back.
“Outdoor Retailer has always been about the entire industry,” Smith said. “We’ve got advocacy groups there. A lot of non-profits. We have educational seminars where brands and retailers send their people to learn. All of that is important. It’s not found anywhere else.”
The face-to-face interactions that happen at OR between brand leaders and retailers are “critical,” Smith added.
“They don’t happen anywhere else, except at that national show,” he said. “That said, we also want to be sure there are plenty of buyers in attendance so brands get the ROI they are asking for.”
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.