Putting Out from the Show

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2007 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. -- Another PGA Merchandise Show is behind us and by all accounts it was a good one.
 
Traffic was reported to be very high on the first day continuing in to day two with traffic lightening as expected on day three. There was no day four this year. The Show was intentionally shortened to three days in an effort to compress traffic and in so doing, increase the intensity.
 
According to Ed Several, VP and General Manager of PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, the plan worked. The Show has been fantastic this year. When you looked down the isles you saw nothing but huge crowds. The most important thing from our standpoint is that the exhibitors are very happy because the customers came this year and there was a buzz. And I think the excitement felt at the PGA Merchandise Show this year is an excellent indication to everyone that 2007 is going to be wonderful for the golf industry.
 
My impressions are one thing. Ill give those to you at the end. Just as important are the impressions of people attending, exhibiting and working the show. Lets start with a few of the exhibitors.
 
We had two booths this year at the show, says John Steinbach, Director of Corporate Communications for TaylorMade-adidas Golf. On the TaylorMade side it was all about introducing new products like the Burner driver and the R7 SuperQuad. This part of the show for us was about demonstrating, educating and listening to customers. We werent concerned with writing TaylorMade orders. On the adidas apparel side it was about order writing. We introduced a new line which was extremely well received and we wrote a ton of business. And asked of his overall opinion of the show this year John responded, Excellent. The traffic was high and thats what we really look at. I would say the show had a buzz and people looked to be genuinely engaged.
 
Jay Russo is the Managing Director of P3 ProSwing, a company that specializes in making an affordable, full service swing analysis and simulator system. He was all smiles. The PGA Learning Centers took a look at all the swing simulators available in the marketplace today and chose ours to become the latest edition to their Technology Partner Program so we couldnt be more pleased with that.
 
Absolutely incredible, says Dena Cuppett, Marketing Manager for Trion:Z. A year ago we were giving away the bracelets and we were mobbed. This year we charged wholesale and we still had people waiting in line to get a hold of the product. Trion:Z says their minus-ion properties counteract the Positive Ions created by modern technology, daily stress, and physical activity. They use Gauss therapeutic medical grade magnets to get the job done. About the show being one day shorter than last year, Dena says, I wondered how shortening the show by one day would affect things. I actually think it was a good thing. People seemed to be more focused to get done what they had to get done because there wasnt that fourth day.
 
Connie Little, Director of Marketing and Product Development for Nancy Lopez Golf couldnt have been more pleased. This is our first time here since re-launching the brand under our new Canadian ownership. We had Nancy here doing autograph signings and the response to her being here and to the new product just couldnt have been better. Overall it was a very successful experience for us.
 
You know, this show was off the charts for us, says Jon Claffey, Director of Marketing for Nickent Golf. The show came at a great timejust after Jeff Quinneys great performance at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic where Jeff made that amazing hole-in-one on the 17th hole on Sunday. A lot of people saw that. We launched our new 4DX driver here along with continuing to showcase our popular hybrids. And the traffic was incredible. Like several other companies this year, Nickent chose to participate in the Demo Day on Wednesday and take out space at the Equipment Testing Center in the Convention Center rather than take booth space on the floor. Jon Claffeys report card on that decision; We came in a little bit of a smaller role this year. Our main interest was for people to hit our products. The Demo Day certainly allowed that to happen and the excitement has carried over here to the Equipment Testing Center. So, we couldnt be happier.
 
Moving on from exhibitors I talked to Sally Sportsman, a veteran public relations director in the business of representing clients who exhibit at the show. This show was one of the best Ive seen. There was a lot of serious business being done here this year. The exhibitors, I think, were noticeably pleased with the amount of traffic and the quality of traffic. And really, thats the litmus test that is used to determine the success of a show. So from that standpoint I think it was a homerun.
 
And of course there are personalities galore that come out for any number of reasons. I caught up with tennis great Ivan Lendl who is now a self-proclaimed golf addict. He was at the adidas apparel booth and told me, It is amazing what has happened with technology not only on the golf club side but on the apparel and footwear side as well. When I played competitive tennis I was wearing cotton everything and sweating like a pig and my shirt weighed five pounds when I took it off. Now with materials like adidas ClimaCool I can play golf in the hottest weather and my body feels still very comfortable. Where was this stuff when I really needed it?
 
Show girls are one of the real bright spots of any industry trade show. The PGA Merchandise show is no exception. These very beautiful women are hired to stand in exhibitors booths and attract the attention of passersby so that they, well, dont pass by. This has been really awesome this year,' says Ashley Smith, one of the Bullet Golf girls. The show is enormous. I dont know how people get to see everything. I was working at my booth so I didnt really get a chance to see that much stuff. But people looked pretty busy and happy. I wanted to know what Ashley thought about being stared at so much by people walking by; because trust me, people must have been staring. You know, it goes with the territory. Thats kind of my job. I try to attract as much attention as I can so that people stop at the booth and check out what we have. I think I earned my money this week.
 
Next up on the docket, Joseph and Ruth Balulis, owners of Marquette Trails Country Club in Baldwin, Michigan. Theyve been coming to the PGA Merchandise Show for 42 years. I started attending these shows back when they were in West Palm Beach, says Joseph, and it was just a tent in a parking lot with people showing stuff out of the back of their cars. To see what it has turned in to is just amazing. The number of vendors is really something. I mean, look at all the companies here showing their products. Ruth told me, I kind of miss the fourth day. The fourth day allowed us to come in the afternoons for two of the days and we liked that. But you know, times change so we just kind of go with the flow.
 
Now heres the flow of my opinion. This 2007 PGA Merchandise Show rocked. The energy was high, the exhibitors were fired up, and the attendees were there, I felt, not because they had to be but because they wanted to be. In years past that has not always been the case.
 
There were certainly some hot stories like shape geometry in drivers. To square or not to square; that was a big question. And whatever side of shape you come down on no one was arguing that increasing MOI (moment of inertia) is an element of club design that will increase in intensity as the limits of size and COR continue to be addressed by the major golf manufacturers.
 
It was a show of unabashed enthusiasm for new golf fashion. Personally, I cant remember seeing more people crowded in to the apparel company booths. And interesting to me was the attention paid to even smaller companies where in the past, perhaps, the giants of the business got the lions share of traffic. Dont get me wrong. You needed elbow pads to get through Nike, Greg Norman, adidas, Cutter & Buck, and Izod; just to name several. But there was high interest paid to companies youve never heard of as well. Thats a sign, in my opinion, that entrepreneurs are seeing an opportunity for growth in golf and that cant be anything other than a good sign.
 
And finally, how can I resistthe Show girls. Very well done this year to all of you exhibitors who hired the attention getters; those wonderfully beautiful girls with fantastic smiles who welcome people in to the booths and get the conversation rolling. A special shout out to Aspen wherever you are.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Merchandise Show and Convention