Despite its smaller size Health+Fitness Business Expo and Conference, the home fitness industry’s annual trade show gathering held last Thursday and Friday in Denver, Colo., was considered a success by exhibitors and retailers.
“While the smaller size of Health+Fitness Business Expo 2009 did reflect many of the current challenges the industry is facing, participating brands were able to focus on sales and marketing opportunities by meeting with hundreds of the leading retail outlets,” said Andy Tompkins, Health+Fitness Business Expo's show director. “Exhibitors felt that the show delivered a quality buying audience with retailers serious about conducting business and continued to provide the annual gathering for the retail fitness industry.”
Preliminary metrics for the 2009 edition of the show indicate that 65 companies exhibited at with 375 retailers representing approximately 200 unique buying businesses. All of those figures were down from 2008. A significant number of international retailers attended from as far away as Australia and South Africa with the noticeable attendance drop coming from U.S. retailers, indicating that the U.S. fitness industry has been obviously affected by the current state of the economy.
“An interesting fact is that the ratio of buyers to exhibitors was consistent with last year, which contributed to steady booth traffic during the show,” continued Tompkins, a comment echoed by exhibitors and retailers.
“Traffic in our booth was like a gentle rain,” said Ken Carpenter, director of sales for Washington-based SportsArt Fitness. “It was nice and steady and we were able to spend quality time with attendees.”
“It’s survival of the fittest and the fittest were here,” said Joseph Balbo, president of Rocky River, Ohio, retailer Fitness Serve. “However, we’ve been able to spend more time with our vendors' sales people and go into great depth learning more about their product lines.”
Key exhibitors and buyers continue to support the event as a critical resource to keep their businesses as successful as possible, and to learn from others on how to grow their operations. While the industry still stresses the need for a focused event, Health+Fitness Business has seen a steady decline in show participation due to industry consolidation, increases in travel and overall exhibiting expenses, and the fact that the show has been in or near Denver since its founding over a decade ago.
“It’s been a great show and has always been a great show for us,” said James Newman, chief executive officer of Canada-based retailer Fitness Town. “We attend Health+Fitness Business to find something new from exhibitors and learn from other dealers, and we always do. One concern however is, if the industry doesn’t come—both exhibitors and retailers—the industry’s event will go away. The industry needs this show.”
Show organizer, Nielsen Business Media, is considering changing the show’s format based on many factors including consolidation within the industry, a need for sharing of “best practices” sales and marketing at the retail level, and developing a trade show cost structure that meets the varying needs of exhibitors.
The home fitness industry lacks a member run association, so show organizers have been conducting pre- and during-show surveys asking for input on how the show can be changed to best meet the industry’s needs.
Under consideration is moving the show to a mixture of product showing, additional education, and panel discussions in a hotel-based environment to provide a new forum for the industry to interact. The hotel trade show concept is designed to provide greater return-on-investment for exhibitors, lower costs for retail travel and allow Health+Fitness Business to be more mobile to vary locations on a revolving basis.
Emphasizing the need for an industry gathering where attendees can focus on mutual efforts to improve the overall health of the home fitness industry, SportsArt’s Carpenter continued, “Health+Fitness Business is the one time of year we can get together as an industry to exchange ideas about common problems and opportunities. Exchanging ideas raises the tide of the whole industry.”
The overall mood at the 2009 edition of the Health+Fitness Business Expo was optimistic. Show organizers, manufacturers and retailers are excited to work together to keep business as healthy as possible in the coming years.
For more information about the Health+Fitness Business Expo & Conference, please visit the HFB website.
About Health+Fitness Business (HFB)
Health+Fitness Business (healthandfitnessbiz.com), a division of Nielsen Business Media, is a full service tradeshow company whose goal is to create, market and produce high quality tradeshows and educational conferences. HFB is the leading retail fitness industry business-to-business trade event, bringing together top manufacturers, retailers, buyers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of the fitness.
Maura Lansford, SOAR Communications, P: 801.523.3730 / C: 817.929.8123, E: mlansford[.]soarcomm.com.