Taking an Acquired Show to a New Level

In January 2013, Nielsen Exhibitions (now Emerald Expositions) acquired the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show from Showproco. Liz Crawford, senior marketing director for the two annual Outdoor Retailer trade shows, was named show director and senior marketing director for a new Sports & Outdoor Group to oversee the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show as well as the Outdoor Retailer franchise.

Crawford details the steps she took to evaluate the newly acquired show and improve the event for 2014, which took place Jan. 16-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Expo: The acquisition was announced a couple of days before the 2013 show. What did you do first?

Liz Crawford: We started digging under the hood. We took the registration file and analyzed who the buyers were—on an individual basis. We pulled out those we felt were not core buyers and marketed to them separately. Then we segmented the qualified buyers, which hadn’t been done before.

We also wanted to know which buyers we were missing, whether it was by the type of retailer, the name of the outlet or the actual buyer. We asked exhibitors who they wanted to see. We also incorporated lists from related shows—Outdoor Retailer; ISS, our imprinted sportswear shows; and ASD, a wholesale merchandise trade show.

Expo: Did you do something similar with the exhibitors?

Crawford: We wanted to find out who we were missing. Exhibitors at this show are suppliers of merchandise that displays licensed sports logos, so we went to the licensors—such as the leagues of all the major sports—to find out who were their official licensees. That rule does not apply to the Tailgate portion of the show, which is for suppliers of products such as portable grills and coolers.

We discovered that many Tailgate exhibitors were not happy with their return on investment. We created a special Tailgate Zone on the showfloor. Exhibitors in this area received special pricing and slightly smaller booths, 10X8 rather than 10X10.

For the other exhibitors, we held our pricing, which provided some good will, and we got really aggressive in how we were reaching new companies. We brought in some new international companies when we got the FIFA World Cup, the international soccer organization, and its licensees to exhibit.

Expo: What other new things did you do at the 2014 show?

Crawford: They had a live fashion show the prior year, and we decided the cost/value wasn’t there. Instead, we created a Fashion Zone lounge area with big screens to show fashion photos and mannequins where exhibitors could display fashion apparel and accessories. The mannequins were sponsored.

We increased sponsorship revenue by 80 percent by adding opportunities they never had previously. Sponsorships included the opening night party, some signage and games in the Sports Lounge area. We also did a show directory and got ad revenue.

They had virtually no education before, so we added two conference sessions to test the response. These were standing room only.

Expo: What were the results?

Crawford: Net square footage went from 60,000 square feet in 2013 to 63,920 sq. ft. in 2014. We had a 5-percent increase in exhibiting companies, from 320 to 336, and exhibitor revenue was ahead by 13 percent. Overall revenue was up 14 percent. The total number of attendees increased 17 percent from 3,358 in 2013 to 3,941 in 2014, and buyer registration was up 11 percent.

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