Indianapolis 2008 ATA Trade Show breaks attendance records
Jan 08: It was quite a warm, sticky day when we left Sydney for the 2008 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA . This was the first time that Tony and Michael attended the show together - normally one of them attends with either our National Sales Manager, Brian or our Brisbane Store Manager, Jeanette. Apart from a 30 minute delay sitting on the runway here and a 45 minute delay while we circled San Francisco, to see out the worst of a storm that wreaked havoc on that city, our trip over was uneventful. It is a far cry from some years back when you could choose which seat you sat in as the plane was only one-third full. This 747 seemed packed to its capacity of 354.
We had been monitoring the weather in the US in the weeks leading up to the trip and the forecast was cold and snow. We were pleasantly surprised that it was not so cold and there was no snow - the first time since attending the show that we have not experienced snow in Indy. The lawns and trees still showed colour, so it would seem it was not a severe winter. However on the day we departed Indy, there was an ever so slight snow dusting and tiny snow flurries falling.
The anticipation and excitement of the show was preceded by a first ever International Reception by the archery trade association in recognition of the growing importance of overseas show attendees. We met the ATA board and staff and it was announced this year was the biggest attendance of international firms, especially from the UK and Europe.
This year's show held at the Indiana Convention Centre in Indianapolis (shortened to Indy), lived up to expectations for attendance, exhibitors and special events with 8,184 attending the show, the second largest crowd in the show's history, including 2,937 dealers, buyers and distributors which is 14 per cent higher than the 2007 show in Atlanta. This year's attendance was up 775 or 10.5 per cent more than last year's show in Atlanta and created two Indy records - 495 exhibitors (four shy of the record 499 at the 2006 Atlanta show) and 159,350 square feet of rented booth space out of a total 300,000-square-foot show floor at the centre and 951 attendees at the pre-dawn educational seminars. Just to reinforce the size of the ATA Show, if you set out to visit each one of the 495 booths during the three-day, 27-hour show, you would need to limit each visit to only three minutes and 15 seconds. In total floor space, it is only slightly smaller than the 325,000 square foot Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour but Indy is in one room, whereas Sydney's is spread over interconnecting halls. The ATA Trade Show is in the US top 200 trade shows in terms of size and attendance. Indianapolis is in the heart of the archery and bowhunting world with at least 40% of US archery retailers living within a 643 km or 400 mile radius of Indy. The positive atmosphere at the show reminds everyone that archers and bowhunters still enjoy shooting their bows and arrows.
The show layout was slightly different this year with some direct competitors adjacent to one another and this helped the attendees in legwork and being able to compare and assess. It never ceases to amaze that so many new companies about 75 make the trek to the show for the first time and experience has shown that only possibly 5% of these will be here next year. Many archery companies trotted out new or improved products and there were also rumours of companies being sold or taken over and one who has gone out of business. For the 2nd year, one large bow manufacturer was absent and it must be interpreted that this company does not consider this show significant, which is at odds with most archery companies, large or small, who scrape together the necessary funds to attend with a display and booth at the ATA show, such is the importance of this event.
We visit around 50 to 70 booths and whilst it is an arduous task as we are on our feet for at least 9 hours on each of the 3 days, we meet very nice people with whom we have been dealing for more years than we care to remember and we learn about the current state of the US archery market. When a trend develops in the US, we often adopt it quite swiftly - sometimes there is only a time lag of a matter of months before we are stocking that product. However we can also touch, feel, use and assess if this item is going to be acceptable and work in our tough environment. Some items that struck as being exceptional were Bear's Truth 2 bow, Martin's Firecat bow and the successor to the Vectrix Hoyt's Katera bow.
The Show came and went so fast. As they say, "Time flies when you're having fun". We were pleased that we saw most of the folks we set out to see - and a few more. We headed back to our hotel for a good night's sleep before setting out on our return trip where we were in transit and in the air for 28 hours. That first shower at home was most enjoyable (and necessary) !