Exhibitors pack up and attendees clear the hall at the end of the SnowShow’s second day, but many aren’t done yet—they’re getting ready for a second act.
The Snowsports Industry Association’s annual trade event moves about a quarter of its 425 exhibitors, along with 3,600 attendees, to a nearby ski resort each year. The outdoor exhibition, known as the On-Snow Demo, is a logistical challenge, but it’s a significant value-add for members who get to test drive the equipment in a real-life scenario, says Debbie Des Roches, trade show director for the SIA.
Expo: You’re adding another move—and another significant expense—to the show. Who handled the cost burden for that?
Debbie Des Roches: SIA pretty much covers the cost of it for attendees. We do shuttle transportation to and from downtown Denver (if they’re not staying at the resort), we provide breakfast and lunch for all the attendees, have an evening happy hour and free lift tickets for both days.
It’s definitely not a moneymaker for us, but we’re member-owned so it’s helpful for our members for the people buying the equipment to actually get out there and test it.
Most of the [exhibiting] companies are outside on the snow, so there’s no real cost for them. They’re driving their vehicles right on the snow and putting their tents up. It’s them doing the work and everything themselves.
Expo: Renting space at a ski resort has to be very different from doing it at a convention center. What are the major differences?
Des Roches: With the mountain, it’s a totally different set-up, for sure. They’re looking at a Monday and Tuesday in early February, which aren’t huge traffic days for them, and we’re filling up their resort, their hotel rooms and everything, so it’s a huge benefit to them during a typically slow time.
The hardest thing is getting everything set up—our show closes on Sunday at 1 [p.m.] and we open the next morning on the mountain at 9 a.m. And we can’t really get on the mountain before 5 p.m. because people are still skiing.
Expo: How much does adding a second move complicate things with your GSC?
Des Roches: Very little. They don’t have a huge presence up at the mountain. We do just a minimal set up. They do get up very early on Sunday morning, drive up to set up the boot room [boot vendors are the only ones located inside; all the others are on the snow] and then drive back down for the teardown of the show, then drive back up that evening.
The individual exhibitors do the unloading for themselves. It’s different. It’s everyone doing their own work, so we don’t need forklifts or anything like that.
Expo: How does the prospect of inclement weather affect your planning?
Des Roches: There really are no contingency plans. If the weather prevented it from happening, the event just wouldn’t have taken place. We’ve been very, very luck in our five years of doing it.
We did get about 30 inches of snow a few days before we arrived. It was great to have fresh snow, but we lost some space because of it. When you’re looking at everything in the summer and early fall, when there’s not a lot of snow on the ground, it’s a different animal. There were a lot of site visits where we just worked on how we would do things if snow [interfered].
This year, from when we looked at it last in early December, we had lost about 14 spots that we had needed. We expanded and got them back, but it was different.
It’s really important to be flexible. Everything will work out eventually, but it may not be exactly as you’d planned on your first visit. Once you have one under your belt, it gets easier the next year. Flexibility is key.