Surf Expo: 3 Keys to Success

This week we spoke with Roy Turner, show manager of , which took up more than 250,000 net square feet of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and attracted 27,000 attendees just over a month ago.

Turner spoke of some of the things he and his colleagues did to make sure the show was a success.

Expo: What was new at the recent edition of the Surf Expo?

Roy Turner: From a square footage point of view, it’s the biggest show in 37 years. We did a few things to make it as successful as we could.

First, we paid particular attention to attendee pathways. Because of that, I think, we did not have any dead spots. You need to make sure the flow is not moving only front to back, but side to side as well.

Second, we paid attention to our growth categories. We’re trying to simplify the categorization. There’s a pretty broad spectrum of what our exhibitors sell, everything and anything involving the [surf] boarding lifestyle. Operationally, it’s a pretty big challenge, but I think we’re meeting it.

Third, the last day is always a challenge. We utilized some lifestyle commercial events throughout the last day to hold our traffic pattern on the floor, some fashion shows and events with celebrities, things like that. I think we might have found the right mix this time.

Expo: And how did it all work out?

Turner: You walk on to the floor at Surf Expo and there’s a positive buzz and vibe. It might not translate into specific numbers, but it’s a good attitude and I think it translates into orders on the floor.

Expo: With all the growth Surf Expo is experiencing, what’s your next challenge?

Turner: Being aware of who we are and not trying to be too many things. Our whole purpose, when looking for exhibitors and attendees, is to be aware of who we are: We serve the [surf] boarder lifestyle, that’s it.

Our challenge is to remember that. Sometimes when you have a big volume show, you can forget that. It’s a challenge, but you have to remember who you are and what makes you special to the people you serve.

Expo: Your parent company, GLM, just recently merged with Emerald Expositions. As a result of that, you just announced a new collocation with the Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS). How is all of that going?

Turner: The fact that we’re going through this merger right now is real exciting. When you merge with a like-minded group, there’s an opportunity to merge talents and resources.

I look at the people we were cooperative competitors with and we now have new partnerships with them, people from shows like Outdoor Retailer, Interbike, shows like that.

Imprinted sportswear is a big part of our business. T-shirts have been a mainstay of surfing forever. If that works for our customers, it’s a win-win. Many of the people who went to our show were coming back a few weeks later for ISS. So, we give them an option to kill two birds with one stone.

It’s showing the industry how quickly the integration is working. We started working on that collocation the day after the ink was dry on the merger.

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →