Major companies pull out of Saltex
For several years there has been debate and discussions about the two main trade shows - BTME and Saltex.
Do we need both? Are they held at the best time of the year? Are they convenient to get to?
All valid questions in their own right, but the fact of the matter is that the cost to companies of exhibiting at trade shows is very high. More and more, they have been weighing up the actual costs of setting up an attractive (and expensive) stand for a week, on two separate occasions, at two separate venues, with a huge input of manpower and all the logistics of getting machinery to and from the venues.
Understandably, they have been posing the question - is it worth it? The answer for many is clearly NO.
Already, Ransomes Jacobsen have issued a press release explaining their decision not to exhibit at Saltex in 2006. They will be back in 2007, and this bi-annual approach is one that other companies, including Lely/Toro, are also taking.
Peter Mansfield, the Turf Division General Manager of Lely UK commented, " Survey work that we have done with our customer base suggests that many of them do not necesarily attend every show in every year. A popular view is that because of the nature of our products extensive on site trials and demonstrations are required and it is often more beneficial for the customer to actively use the product at his site. Static display does not achieve this. We believe it right to do both in appropriate proportion. It seems to be appreciated that for the larger machinery exhibitors particulary, trade show attendance is becoming harder to justify as costs continue to rise."
Other companies not appearing at Saltex 2006 include Kubota, Charterhouse, Hayter, John Deere, SISIS and Turfmech.
David Hart, Divisional Manager at John Deere, said "We continually review our presence at all the shows we attend on both sides of our business, groundscare and agriculture - there is no automatic decision to exhibit or not to exhibit. Saltex does not fit into our overall marketing plans for 2006, but this does not mean we won't attend in future years."
The MD of Turfmech Machinery, Austin Jarrett, was, as ever, candid with his comments, "We have been monitoring for some years the 'cost per enquiry' of all our marketing activities. It's only prudent. Quite simply, the Saltex exhibition has generated less and less enquiries at greater cost each year for years. Saltex has become prohibitively expensive per enquiry. Other marketing activities such as roadshows, advertising, factory open days and supporting dealer open days have become a much more effective way of communicating to our potential and existing customers. Our customers must remember that the cost of these exhibitions are passed on to them in the cost of the machine they buy from us. The Company that can communicate its message to its potential customer more efficiently can provide a more competitively priced product."
Philip Threadgold, Managing Director, Charterhouse Turf Machinery, stated, "Our withdrawal from Saltex for 2006 is no reflection on the IOG. Over the last few years our margins have diminished, as customers are demanding greater discounts from us due to tighter budget controls and reduced spend. This means that we can no longer afford to attend two major machinery shows in a year. Consequently we will be exhibiting at BTME in January 2006 and will be back at Saltex in September 2007."
SISIS Equipment (Macclesfield) Ltd has also announced its intention to attend Saltex on an "alternate year" basis and will not have a stand at the 2006 event. Joint Managing Director Roger Hargreaves said, "We are of the opinion that two major trade shows each year is excessive and our market research shows that it is not what our customers want. We have advised both the IOG and BIGGA that we feel strongly that our industry needs either a single annual exhibition covering the whole market place or the two current exhibitions rescheduled to take place in alternate years. SISIS has been a staunch supporter of both the IOG and BIGGA since their inception and look forward to a continuing dialogue."
Paul Goodwin, the Marketing Manager of Hayter Ltd, commented, "Saltex has been an important showcase for Hayter. However, by attending on alternate years we believe there will be benefits to both Hayter and show visitors. Firstly we believe the show is the place for visitors to come and see what is new in their industry and it is a chance for us to show what is new in the Hayter range. By exhibiting every other year we will have a stand with many more new products on display which we hope will be of greater interest to visitors. With all manufacturers adopting this practice it really will justify visitors attending Saltex as they most definitely will be able to see a raft of new ideas and products on show throughout the exhibition. Secondly there is the issue of cost. To create a quality show exhibitors need to approach it in a professional manner and create stands worthy of their names, which is an expensive undertaking. To attempt to attend the show on a shoe string budget would cheapen Saltex as much as it would reflect badly on the exhibiting company. Show costs include stand space, stand design and build, visual displays, staff, hotel accommodation, etc. We believe that by attending the show every other year Saltex will become an even more important date in the industry's calendar."
Feedback to the organiser of this year's Saltex, Penton Europe, from exhibitors and visitors suggests that a lot of people get a lot of benefit from trade shows. It is a good opportunity to meet up with contacts and view products; for new and smaller companies in particular it is an opportunity to showcase their products and services to their target market.
Trade shows are beneficial in so many ways to all aspects of the industry. No-one is arguing about that. However, the message to the organisers, from the industry companies, is loud and clear - we don't need so many so often and at such a high cost.