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Fly Fishing's Trade Show Death Match Continues - Only Now It's AFFTA's Own Partner Sniffing Blood

Posted by Tom Chandler 12/1/2009

While the fly fishing industry typically generates all the corporate bloodletting of your average kitten fight, in recent years we've been treated to the spectacle of a meltdown in AFFTA's trade show decision-making process.

With chainsaw death matches so rare in this industry, frankly, it's been huge fun.

First AFFTA fired a shot across "The Fly Fishing Show" owner Chuck Furimsky's bow when they went head-to-head with his Denver consumer show.

That worked about as well expected (#fail), and I thought the matter was settled (#fail X2).

For example, the remnants of AFFTA's failed consumer show combined with the ISE show, and this year, they're again going to compete directly (on the same weekend) with Furimky's Denver show.

AFFTA, apparently, are slow learners.

Now it's become clear AFFTA's Fly Fishing Retailer (dealer) show is staggering.

Despite sizable amounts of industry cheerleading (and you know who you are), staying awake through the Fly Fishing Retailer show the last three years has generally required large doses of powerful, illegal stimulants.

In fact, for months now, speculation was rife the ailing FFR show would be combined with the sizable Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, and when the AFFTA Board of Directors voted that idea down, most of us wondered exactly what the hell they had in mind.

Turns out, nothing (at least if we read our press releases correctly).

Adding to the general hilarity, Furimsky clearly hasn't forgotten the direct assault on his Denver show, and he's proposing a Florida-based dealer trade show, touting the location's lower cost.

Now it appears that Nielsen Media - the company that owned and operated the FFR show in the past - may be moving in for the kill.

Simply put, there's blood in the water, Undergrounders (and we know what that means).

First, AFFTA issued a painfully long-winded press release explaining why they rejected the Outdoor Retailer show option (Warning: powerful stimulants may also be needed to read the following, which sadly includes the phrase "thinking outside the box"):

LOUISVILLE, COLORADO. Since April, 2009, AFFTA has been in discussions with Nielsen Business Media, owner of the FlyFishing Retailer Expo (FFR) to determine how to improve upon future FFR shows. Nielsen shared AFFTA's desire to improve upon the design and production of future FFR shows.

Thinking outside the box, as the owner of the Outdoor Retailer Show (OR), Nielsen offered to create a "show within a show" by combining FFR with the 2010 Summer OR Show in Salt Lake City. David Loechner, Nielsen Sr. V.P., delivered the "show within a show" proposal to the AFFTA Board at their meeting in September.

According to AFFTA Chairman, Alan Gnann, "When the Outdoor Retailer proposal was first brought to the AFFTA Board's attention, the Board was interested in the opportunities this combination offered. The thought of having our show within a show the size and caliber of OR was initially felt to be a reasonably good fit."

Unfortunately, when the AFFTA Board received the final floor space proposal from Nielsen, the total space allocated to the fly fishing industry was grossly insufficient; the separate space to create the "show within a show" concept was not offered nor was space allocated for indoor casting ponds. In addition, many AFFTA members stated that the timing of the OR Show was not a good fit for the fly fishing industry. Therefore, citing these deficiencies, the AFFTA Board of Directors rejected Nielsen's proposal.

Immediately after the AFFTA Board voted to reject Nielsen's Outdoor Retailer proposal, AFFTA and Nielsen engaged in good-faith negotiations to allow AFFTA the opportunity to acquire the rights and licenses to the FFR show. Unfortunately, these negotiations were unsuccessful and AFFTA asked Nielsen to either produce a 2010 FFR show or terminate the agreement.

According to Gnann, "Nielsen and their predecessors have been great partners and collaborators for many years. Prior to the downturn in the economy, trade shows nationwide were generally profitable and well attended. However, the current economic climate dictates that AFFTA and Nielsen pursue a different business model. Therefore, as of November 30, 2009, Nielsen released AFFTA from its show production contract. It is now time for AFFTA to move on and determine its next course of action."

"Since April, the Board of Directors has been working diligently with Nielsen to consider a wide range of options and combinations for FFR," said AFFTA President Gary Berlin. "Because of confidentiality and non-compete provisions in the Nielsen agreement, the AFFTA Board has been unable to notify the industry of the on-going discussions or issue a press release on the status of the show. Now that AFFTA and Nielsen are no longer contractually obligated, the AFFTA Board is considering multiple options for a 2010 fly fishing industry trade show, including hosting a standalone show or combining with an existing show."

Berlin promises to keep the fly fishing industry up-to-date on AFFTA's plans for a 2010 fly fishing industry trade show.

Sure, it's whiny. Sure, it's clear AFFTA is lost, and like men everywhere, they're refusing to stop and ask for directions.

And yes, am I the only person in the whole industry amused by the thought that AFFTA will keep us "up-to-date" on their plans for next year's trade show?

(AFFTA is to fly fishing bloggers what Dan Quayle was to comedians - a dependable source of material.)

Blood in the Water, Fins On The Surface
Meanwhile, Furimsky's dealer show is still on the table.

And yes - based on an email received from Outdoor Retailer's PR agency - we can now plainly see a shark's fin (a rare Nielsen's shark) as it knifes through the water, heading directly for AFFTA's leaking, dangerously overloaded lifeboat.

First, SOAR Communication's Maura Lansford opens fire with:

In the letter, Haroutunian invites members of the fly fishing industry to join Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in 2010, as the FlyFishing Retailer Show will no longer take place in its current format. The conclusion that the fly fishing industry cannot sustain a stand-alone event in the current marketplace follows months of discussions with members of the fly fishing industry.

As part of its Summer Market event, Outdoor Retailer has offered to provide a new venue and demo experience for FlyFishing Retailer participants, along with an opportunity to grow the fly fishing category into other segments in the outdoor recreation market.

The in the press release portion of the email, former FFR show director (and current Outdoor Retailer show director) Kenji Haroutunian lights 'em up with:

Fly Fishing Industry and Outdoor Retailer to Join Forces in 2010

From our 30 years of experience producing scores of specialty-sports tradeshows including 11 years producing FlyFishing Retailer, it is clear that the fly fishing marketplace will be better served now and in the future by expanding its reach to include the overall outdoor specialty marketplace. We are convinced that the best opportunity to grow as a market, and build on the core strength inherent in the fly fishing market, is to be connected to a larger collection of relevant businesses at Outdoor Retailer. Therefore, the entire fly fishing industry is invited to join Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Trade Show in 2010 as the FlyFishing Retailer Trade Expo will no longer be held in Denver

A Winning Opportunity

More than 25 percent of FlyFishing Retailer companies already exhibit at Outdoor Retailer, and those that haven't are now invited to participate in the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 Trade Show. For more than 27 years Outdoor Retailer has provided a specialty wholesale watersports culture that thrives on a national and international level. At OR, consistently more than 20,000 professional participants advance the sales process not only in their own category but across multiple lifestyle segments within the overall specialty outdoor market. Please visit www.outdoorretailer.com now for more information about participating in Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Ahh, my Undergrounders - it's the classic "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" love story. Only with trade shows. (See how we make this stuff clear for you?)

First Nielsen sends AFFTA on its merry way, then circles back and does the trade show equivalent of hitting on the attractive women in the group, suggesting they come over to Nielsen's place for margaritas and chips while leaving their useless, beer-swilling, farting boyfriends behind.

Given AFFTA's track record, I'd book a flight for Salt Lake City.

***UPDATE: Angling Trade (industry blog) says AFFTA sources have said there will be an "AFFTA-endorsed trade show sometime in 2010."

That's not the same as saying it will be standalone fly fishing show, though you'd assume that would be AFFTA's goal.

The site also revealed AFFTA revenues and attendance figures from the last few years of FFR:

According to sources, gross income for the 2009 event was somewhere @ $460,000, in 2007, gross income was over $700,000"¦ exhibitor numbers went from 234 in 2007 to 146 in 2009

Note that these are "gross" numbers - not net. It's not clear to us if Nielsen was losing money on the show, but a 1/3 decline in exhibitors speaks volumes about the shows viability in its current state.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

30 comments
I mentioned the show briefly in this post from just a couple days ago which further endeared the Underground to the fly fishing industry. It seems clear that several of the biggest manufacturers are there only as face-saving gestures, attendance continues to fall, and next year it's Reno. That's about all I know.
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Tom----Any comments/observations on the the most recent 2011 A FFTA event or IFTD in New Orleans? Only thing I know, the latter will be in Reno NV for 2012. Frank R. Pisciotta
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[...] our previous post heaped truckloads of snark had bit of fun at the fly fishing industry trade group’s expense (AFFTA), it’s clear [...]
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another manufacturer: k, this seems like a Tiger Woods-late night tv thing. Have fun. AFFTA dropped the ball and now everything is in free-fall. I'm not sure what you mean, but with so little outside influence affecting the AFFTA Board (which is not in the habit of listening to bloggers), humor is about all we have left. And let's face it; the industry isn't the heart and soul of fly fishing. If AFFTA ... more face plants, the stronger companies will get along just fine, and fly fishing will continue as a sport. That said, I appreciate your concrete proposals. You're offering up a specific plan.
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ok, this seems like a Tiger Woods-late night tv thing. Have fun. AFFTA dropped the ball and now everything is in free-fall. Proposal #1- Don't support AFFTA. They have done nothing for the industry. In fact, I think that they are bringing us down. Proposal #2- If we need to have a show (and that's a big if), let's try Orlando in the fall. No one will be out a lot of money. Proposal #3- Why not do ... more something on the internet and let guides, consumers and fly shops post feedback on products. I think that the era of commercials where nothing is said about the product is over. Let's move on.
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Tom: Now Five: http://www.drakemag.com/blog/industry-scuttlebutt/277-lyfishing-trade-show-to-be-held-in-lobby-of-rock-springs-econolodge Six, actually. I was going to announce the availability of the Trout Underground/Man Cave two-car garage for the new AFFTA show (Wally the Wonderdog has already signed to be our first celebrity greeter, I'll be grilling $10 burgers right outside the door, and the ... more hose is out back if you're thirsty). Now you've stolen our thunder. But it doesn't matter; Furimsky's offering free rooms to dealers and exhibitors, and all you've got to offer is a half-dozen opened (and stale) cans of cheap beer...
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Now Five: http://www.drakemag.com/blog/industry-scuttlebutt/277-lyfishing-trade-show-to-be-held-in-lobby-of-rock-springs-econolodge
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I previously said there were (potentially) three different fly fishing dealer shows in the works for 2010. Turns out I was wrong. Now it looks like four. From an American Sportfishing Association press release: December 4, 2009 - Alexandria, VA – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), in response to an announcement made by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association's (AFFTA) that its Board of ... more Directors is considering multiple options for a 2010 fly fishing industry trade show, invites AFFTA members, fly fishing retailers and the entire fly fishing industry to attend ICAST 2010 (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) being held this coming July in Las Vegas. “This is a challenging time for everyone in the sportfishing industry,” said ASA Board of Directors Chairman Jeff Pontius, president, ZEBCO Brands. “Acknowledging that fly fishing tackle manufacturers have already set their budgets, in 2010, ASA's Board of Directors is offering to honor AFFTA's discounted member exhibitor booth fees and membership in either AFFTA or ASA as a way to help manufacturers who have exhibited at the Fly Fishing Retailer show in recent years.” Pontius further said, “ICAST is the world's largest sportfishing tradeshow where industry members from around the globe meet to see the very latest in sportfishing gear and accessories. This year we invite the entire fly fishing industry be part of the experience.” ... “ICAST 2010 already offers a large fly casting pond providing exhibitors with a place to demonstrate their rods, reels and lines to potential buyers,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Our Show Committee is also considering creating a special pavilion located adjacent to the casting pond to further assist exhibitors whose focus is fly fishing tackle, gear and accessories.” Nussman further said, “In addition, our ICAST team will make every effort to ensure that fly tackle buyers will be at the show.” It's rare that fly fishermen see feeding frenzies of this magnitude...
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1% of your 8% stopping by to catch up on the latest and wow, this was quite a thread to read......I've never been to a trade show, so for now, I'll let you big boys duke it out and this little minority will worry about whether or not her waders are going to leak tomorrow.
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Those knuckleheads at AFFTA should have taken the OR deal while they had the chance. In the short term it might not have been ideal, but in the long run it would have been best for the biz. It's not about infecting the fly biz with the outdoor biz, it's about being part of a show that has an f'ing pulse. So now iCast has invited the fly vendors to their show and AFFTA tries to sort out WTF they are ... more going to do. Bottom line, the trade organization for fly fishing does not have a show and whatever they propose no one of any substance is going to attend.
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Oh yeah, here is the facility they book for their itty bitty rod building event. http://home.earthlink.net/~icrbe/id7.html
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There is somebody that can do this. Whether or not they would want to work on it for AFFTA or with AFFTA is something they (he) would have to be approached about. But in the dead market and downturned economy, their show set a new attendance and sales record last year. Somebody is doing something right. How many of you think custom rod building is a big time part of the fishing industry? I do not ... more think that it cannot possibly be very large, but in just a few years the rod building industry has gathered up one of the most impressive shows and venues in the entire outdoor sports industry. And they did it even though the density of rod builders is VERY LOW no matter where you look. They put on a great event and manage to pull in rod builders from all over the world. Sure, they only use 40,000 square feet and get about 2500 people to attend, but they are up against way higher odds than a much larger sport like fly fishing is. They have done it smart.........go to a city that has been tailor made since 1910 to cater to consumer and trade shows. This is where the HUGE International Home Furnishings Market has called home since 1911. Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas and Chicago have tried to take that huge event away.......but little old HIGH POINT still reigns supreme in that market. It is a low cost town to put on such a show which vendors like. No unions, no high prices. The city is set up to produce such shows. Everything there is set up to be user friendly to the vendors and they have more event space than any city in the world. Something like 15 million square feet of event space. My point is that if these rod building people can take an itty bitty hobby like custom rod building and put on something like this, just imagine what they could do with something like a major fly fishing show. Maybe. But their track record is pretty damn good at this point. http://www.rodexpo.com
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This SO parallels the paddlesports industry. It goes something like this: 1) We want our own show. But no one wants to go to another show. But the industry needs to support it. No, retailers and manufacturers need to do what's best for them. They can choose to go, not go, or go to a different show. Putting on a trade show is a lot like work, and in my experience that work is undervalued. We put on ... more a considerable consumer event (140,000 square feet, 20,000 consumers). It is a lot like work. If AFFTA thinks it can pull a trade show out of its heinie for 2010, they're deluded. I hope they mean to affiliate with another show...that would make more sense. But which one> 2) It's __________'s fault our industry is so screwed up (insert manufacturer, Nielsen, whatever). But it's never your fault. It's never anyone's fault that participation is falling off. It's an inevitable fact. There's nothing we can do about it. It's too bad our demographic is aging (if you think fly fishing is bad -- check out canoeing). I guess we'll just have to watch it die. 3) Oh, and we wish it were like it used to be in the good old days. There are no good old days. There is only today, and tomorrow. -- What finally happened in paddlesports is the industry leaders pretty much walked away from the existing, rather ineffective trade organization(s). They were pretty ego-driven and therefore couldn't move the needle. We formed our own ad-hoc group so we could work with Nielsen and voila' --- ORSM moves and Nielsen gives our industry a whole lot of other value added. All it took was some leadership, and the cojones to buck the status quo. Did we piss people off? Yeah, a handful of people who really liked things the way they used to be. In the good old days (that weren't so good). So now we're moving forward. And it's rough to change things, but it's good and frankly, it feels good. I really do wish fly fishing would come to OR. It may not be a perfect cultural fit, but you know, it has a lot more to do with kayaking than climbing does. DB P.S. The editor who didn't care about the women's market was the editor of Fly Fisherman Magazine. Fly FisherMAN. Exactly. P.P.S. I agree that the party atmosphere can get in the way of doing business. Kenji knows how I feel about that.
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Fly Retailer said "But to think that OR is going to grow my business? Not a chance. They would prefer to support the closing of fishing access. " Huh? Please 'splain. This is completely anathema to the direction of the OIA, the OR show, every business and advocacy group in the building.
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I just added an update to the original article, but thought I'd post here also: ***UPDATE: Angling Trade (industry blog) says AFFTA sources have said there will be an "AFFTA-endorsed trade show sometime in 2010." That's not the same as saying it will be standalone fly fishing show, though you'd assume that would be AFFTA's goal. The site also revealed AFFTA revenues and attendance figures from the ... more last few years of FFR: According to sources, gross income for the 2009 event was somewhere @ $460,000, in 2007, gross income was over $700,000… exhibitor numbers went from 234 in 2007 to 146 in 2009 Note that these are "gross" numbers - not net. It's not clear to us if Nielsen was losing money on the show, but a 1/3 decline in exhibitors speaks volumes about the show's viability in its current state. Now we have three dealer trade shows in the works (and the directors for two of them have posted to this thread). As soon as I'm a little less sleep deprived (give me 18 years or so), I'll respond to some of the comments in this thread. I will say this: the fly fishing industry was ailing long before the economy went south, and AFFTA's antics (the head-t0-head trade show war with Furimsky - which seemingly continues to this day) have only wasted time and energy that should have been invested doing what AFFTA has only pretended to do the last 3-5 years. In one sense, it affects me very little; the fly fishing industry doesn't own the fly fishing experience. But there is some juice behind the concept of more fly fishermen = more protected fly fishing waters.
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Tom Chandler: My take is the opposite; the show's failing because the fly fishing industry's done such a woeful job of marketing itself (I can cite a painfully long list of examples). If the industry's ailing, its trade show suffers with it. Even worse has been the industry's willingness to pretend all is rosy; the pre-and-post-show happy fests of recent years belied what most of us saw on the floor, ... more yet the cheerleading continued. I'm not at all sure OR is the best choice for the industry, but I am willing to bet that – unless AFFTA comes up with a good idea, and fast – OR will simply win by default. Tom you are right, if the industry was healthy AFFTA would have a strong trade show. This is my biggest complaint about AFFTA in that they do very little to grow my business yet they say that is their mission… But to think that OR is going to grow my business? Not a chance. They would prefer to support the closing of fishing access. ASA on the other hand has some great programs as long as you do not mind competing two or three levels below Cabelas, Bass Pro, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart and others. I went to I-Cast a couple of years ago and Plano would not give me a price list because the rep was not available. I think he was on his smoke break. Throwing up the white flag is certainly an option, but to do nothing and just sit behind my vise and complain seems rather shallow. I would prefer a trade organization that is committed to growing the trade, my trade, fly fishing. I need someone to fight for fishing access and the protection of our natural resources and feed fly fishing education. Our choices seem to be this simple – OR, ASA, AFFTA, or just give up. The realities are that growing a sport and industry takes support and money. If AFFTA can produce a trade show that has fewer hands in the kitty then maybe there will be more money left to promote the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry. I am hoping AFFTA can live up to its mission.
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I've learned that a show will closely mirror the market it serves, regardless the amount and type of marketing. The amount of print, online, e-blast, phone and snail marketing that went to each person in the Nielsen FF universe is much bigger than is being inferred, and AFFTA did a great job this year of supporting that. Of course more would be better. I agree. But were there people in the business ... more that didn't know about the show? Many still insist on calling it FTD (or FTR, as Larry does). In 11 years of marketing you'd think we could at least get the name FFR across. Hey maybe you guys are different! It's really about where the FF community wants to gather. Your culture will be intact wherever you go, whether it be Vegas, Orlando or SLC. I can tell you where there is better trout fishing. I can't tell you how to fix a hurting industry. The 'risk-reward ratio' has everything to do with where the dealers will go... a bit over 400 came to Denver. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I see a fair number of fly fishing industry leaders (retailers and brands both) at OR, from around the country. Several have already hit me up for badges to OR Winter, in fact. We at Nielsen would like to continue to serve the fly fishing market. We want to help make it worth the cost for all involved (yes including us). If the industry is interested in a virtual networking event, we can do that... Really well, and we already do for several other industries. It's incredibly cost-effective, especially for the co's that spend a lot on imagery and catalogs. I really hope that idea takes root, and will do my part to help it along. Imagine the savings of flight costs, hotels, meals, dancers (oops) shipping, drayage, electrical, etc... It can be done. We'd love to do it. But the industry needs to support it. I know there will be a need for the members of the tribe of FF to gather in person too, and I think you can do that at OR, no problem. All the other tribes mix well, and a number of your tribal leaders all attend. It's not at all a stretch, the OR show is worthy of your presence, as an individual as well as a vibrant specialty marketplace. But it needs to be a unified decision and I can't make that unity happen. That is yours and AFFTA's to make happen. OR is an influential core group of like-minded businesses who understand this common proposition; paddle, fish, surf, climb, hike, birdwatch, photograph, do whatever on open lands and water which we are blessed to have in this country and are increasingly rare on this planet, and we'll be there to outfit and serve you. Fly fishing seems consistent with that platform to me. We'd like to help introduce fly fishing to more active women...like the hundreds at OR who run healthy lifestyle businesses and own/buy for shops. That idea is just one example of why it might be worth a try to talk to them, as an industry collective. What if you were to convert, in regions across the continent, hundreds of influential professional sports women into fly fishing advocates? They might not buy a thing, but they will go back to their shops and partner with local fly fishers and retailers and co-market events and educate hikers and skiers and backpackers about it. That can happen when markets come together. Not on guard. Kenji at FFR/OR
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This is fun. Only because for once in my life, I'm not in the middle of the drama. "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." —Machiavelli
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Sorry Larry, went to iCast and it was a bomb for flyfishing. And that was Orlando. Vegas, forget it. And check out the AFTTA board and see how much confidence you have in them.
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OK gang. If you're bored by fly fishing industry talk, stop reading now (and blame Tom; he started it). My criticism of Neilsen's stewardship of the Fly Fishing Retailer show relates specifically to the total lack of marketing they've done over the past couple of years. Where's the PR firm Neilsen used to engage to publicize the show to manufacturers, dealers, reps and the media? Gone. An easy way ... more to cut costs, I imagine, though to the detriment of interest and participation. Case in point, a program to bring important dealers to the show at no or reduced cost. Did Neilsen publicize this? Get the retailing world interested in being one of the elect? Let the media know who some important players are? Talk it up. Get some buzz going. Nope. Nada. Opportunity lost. Typical. It almost seemed as though Neilsen saw revenues falling, figured they'd do everything on the cheap, and see if they couldn't make their money downstream by pushing the show into the Outdoor Retailer tent. None of this is to say that AFTTA itself couldn't have done lots better. Relying on Neilsen to do the work isn't an excuse. And I've frequently heard fly fishing folks ask whether AFTTA couldn't better spend the money it brings in from show revenues and member dues. At the very least, communication could be better In any event, the only significant outreach done in 2008-09 for the FTR show was by fly fishing industry folks themselves. Larger companies like Sci Anglers, Simms, Patagonia have pretty effective marketing and customer relations programs, did publicize the show, and put on events for dealers at the show. Smaller companies with fewer resources did what they could to engage dealers and media. I spent 2+ days at the show (which I seem to recall Tom didn't attend) and, while I was uninterested for the third year in the seminars offered, thought that floor traffic was decent, and spoke to no one who thought the show was a bust. Could it have been better? Certainly, and with its liberation from Neilsen, I'm guessing it will be, whatever incarnation it assumes. But Outdoor Retailer winning by default? Dream on. I've been to a number of both Summer and Winter Market OR shows and they're zoos in which fly fishing simply won't fit in. The OR folks simply don't give a carabiner about fly fishing. Some larger companies might bolster brand awareness by exhibiting. Patagonia of course is already there, as are Cloudveil. Scientific Anglers could push fly gear next to Ultrathon insect repellent. Simms could push the GoreTex connection. But if smaller players think they've wasted their money at Fly Fishing Retailer, let them head for OR and see how little a response they get for a large outlay. Consider, for example, the risk-reward ratio for companies selling flies: Umpqua Feather Merchants, Rainy's, Pacific Fly Group and a few smaller outfits. Or fly tying materials. Or high-end fly rods. Or rod building components. Being the quaint cousin at OR is a fool's gamble. And let me repeat: outreach to the general outdoor market has been tried by numerous fly fishing companies large and small, and has never succeeded. And how many general outdoor retailers do you find exhibiting at FTR? We don't matter to them. AFTTA can of course hook up with Chuck Furimsky to put on a trade show. Chuck has a pretty long track record of producing interesting and successful consumer shows, but despite his offer to bury the hatchet with AFTTA, I'd be surprised were a truce to be called. If a link up with another outfit is going to happen, something about which I'm doubtful given AFTTA's resurgent post-Nelsen optimism, an alliance with the American Sportfishing Association and the ICAST show makes some sense. Conventional fishing offers fly fishing retailers new customers and distribution, and unlike the OR gang, the folks who attend ICAST have good reason to be interested in the gear with which fly fishers afflict themselves. ASA also markets
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I am pretty tired of schlepping my stuff to various shows and having it end up as an industry party. The usual suspects blow their own horns, I get a few shrimp at Bubba Gump's and my bank account is less $5,000. And any newbie with the entry fee is clear to steal some of my business. But that I won't complain about because it makes me think and do things better. But hello--- welcome to 2010. The ... more internet is alive and well, and with a little creativity any manufacturer can present his products in the best possible light. This does not mean the usual pr crap (have you ever seen beer commercials? - stupid question- all they do is provide you news that you will get laid if you drink their product. No real information about the beer). Does this seem familiar? Well, we now have the technology to provide real information about our products. I propose an on-line show. Nobody needs to go anywhere during critical sales time (something no one can agree on), and if you need to see a product first-hand, ask for a sample. If you are a reputable dealer you won't be turned down. And, of course, all first tier manufacturers have decent sales reps who will be bringing products to your door. My vote is----- screw the shows. Why not an on line show here with a thoughtful moderator? We can delete the word thoughtful if it leads to swollen heads, let's use objective instead. Someone who can wade through the bs.
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Dear Tom, Enjoyed your take on the Trade Show Death Match. It's the ultimate Soap Opera in our sport, except the results aren't entertaining. Since I'm one of the actors, I can share the behind the scenes dialogue that isn't on the HD flatscreen. Now that AFFTA is legally free to speak in public, we can expect updates as they have promised. My jaw is still in it's dropped position but I'll try to ... more speak. I shouldn't really be surprised at Neilsen cutting AFFTA lose. This was my prediction months ago, but I never knew the legal dates that kept them from a formal announcement until December 1st. In the meantime, I've moved ahead on my trade show plan that can bring a breath of fresh air to our industry. Not only will the Orlando location attract new customers that were missing in recent Denver years, I'm putting together a show package that saves nearly 50% for most manufacturers. See it all on our trade show website www.utaff.org I was amused by the reference to me as “not perceived as a white knight by many in the industry” quoting a responder to your blog. I think a more appropriate term for me would be a bleeding heart sympathizer. Even after the past attacks by AFFTA which you recalled, and their support once again to a show scheduled the same time in Denver, plus, due to past deals, some AFFTA manufacturers have abandoned my fly fishing event for general outdoor shows. I'm still trying to bring our fractional sport together. I offered the olive branch two years ago after AFFTA's consumer show failed to beat up my event, and they signed a deal with I.S.E. ignoring the Fly Fishing Show. On to today, when I have once again invited them to join my efforts with the new trade show proposal and provided more of a cut of the profits than I'll see. I am forgoing profits, to put back into conservation efforts, voted on by attendees. Our resources need help so we have places to fish. If I left AFFTA alone to drift away after being set afloat by Neilsen I would have every right after the way the past has played out. Instead I'm shocking myself by being so forgiving. But the reason is not for me or AFFTA it is for fly fishing. If it continues to decline, with confusion in the trade, my consumer shows will also suffer. My goal is to bring everyone together at a new location, and agreeable time, at a fair cost, and when the sports rebounds, my consumer shows grow. If I have to kiss my nemesis, AFFTA to bring our limping sport back on strong legs, I've done it. There are new lips on the AFFTA board, so I've only had to close my eyes half way. Only the future will show whether they embrace my efforts or perceive me as a black knight. On Guard!
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Paul Prentiss: It's nice to know that we have AFFTA, Neilson, and the “White Knight” to help us along this bumpy road This could be the winner of the Underground's "Biting Satire of the Week" Award. Excellent.
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Those of us at the dealer level are doing everything possible to stay in business during this difficult recession and maintain a strong commitment to growing the sport and participating in conservation activities. It's nice to know that we have AFFTA, Neilson, and the "White Knight" to help us along this bumpy road.
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And the smackdown solution is.....................have one pay the Dick Cheney appearance fee for the other.
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Larry Kenney: Amid all the cute criticism, I don't see any mention of Neilsen's contribution to the Fly Fishing Retailer show recent decline in attendance by thier failure to effectively market past FTR shows during an economic downturn. It's easy to be successful, as the show was for Neilsen through 2004 or so, during good times. But you need to work at it when times change and Neilsen dropped the ... more ball. Now they want to cut their fixed costs and lump fly fishing in with their other not-exactly-growing-mightily Outdoor Retailer show. Larry, you're suggesting FFR is reeling because Nielsen hasn't marketed the show effectively to dealers. My take is the opposite; the show's failing because the fly fishing industry's done such a woeful job of marketing itself (I can cite a painfully long list of examples). If the industry's ailing, its trade show suffers with it. Even worse has been the industry's willingness to pretend all is rosy; the pre-and-post-show happy fests of recent years belied what most of us saw on the floor, yet the cheerleading continued. I'm not at all sure OR is the best choice for the industry, but I am willing to bet that - unless AFFTA comes up with a good idea, and fast - OR will simply win by default. As for women in fly fishing, I have no data to back up any gender breakdowns, but I'd be surprised if the female readership of this blog was as high as 8%. I'll bet lower.
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My goodness...a marketing person's dream; and such an exciting controversey! Think I'll take a nap until this blows over. I've sworn off of those kinds of drugs.
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Amid all the cute criticism, I don't see any mention of Neilsen's contribution to the Fly Fishing Retailer show recent decline in attendance by thier failure to effectively market past FTR shows during an economic downturn. It's easy to be successful, as the show was for Neilsen through 2004 or so, during good times. But you need to work at it when times change and Neilsen dropped the ball. Now they ... more want to cut their fixed costs and lump fly fishing in with their other not-exactly-growing-mightily Outdoor Retailer show. Nice try if they can make it work. But it won't work. For anyone. Outdoor Retailer's Summer Market show is abslutely the wrong match for a fly fishing trade show. While it's nice to talk about crossover customers and outdoor synergy, that's so far not happened, and not for want of trying on both sides of the fleece curtain ever since The Movie got folks thinking that fly fishing was a hall-pass to wealth. Which of course it wasn't, and isn't. And although fly shops sell Patagonia, Underarmour, Woolrich, the occasional kayak, canoe and PFD, along with a variety of other outdoor gear like knives and GPS units and bootlaces, have you seen much fly gear in the general outdoor shops? In kayaking shops? Didn't think so. After all these post-Movie years you can bet it would be there if the customer base was interested. But it ain't. Or if it is, it goes to a fly fishing retailer. Using OR to grow more interest in fly fishing, and fly fishing to grow more interest in other outdoor sports sounds nice, but recent history and common sense suggests that it would be a waste of money. As to the proposed space allotted to fly fishing within the OR show, my recollection of the last three FTR shows is that the casting ponds were full of people trying rods, with other folks waiting their turns. That's hardly a situation that merits abandoning inside casting ponds in favor of some pie-in-the-sky synergy with other activities. The good news buried in the recent press releases is that AFTTA is free to pursue an independent fly fishing show without buying the show back from Neilsen. Whether AFTTA produces a show of their own, or links up with former nemesis Chuck Furimsky (who's not perceived as a white knight by many in the industry), or with the American Sportfishing Association's ICAST show (a far better sort of synergy since those folks actually fish), there's considerably less to lose and more to gain by staying independent of Outdoor Retailer. By the way, multiple readership surveys done by fly fishing magazines had female subscribers/single copy buyers at a pretty constant at 6%- 8% of total readership. That doesn't, of course, count pass-along readership to wives, daughters, girlfriends and the like, which probably at least doubles the numbers (though not the percentage since there's male pass-along readership too.) I find it hard to believe there's a fly fishing editor out there who's not aware of how many female readers there are, who wouldn't welcome more, and doesn't think about how he might go about interesting them without losing his existing audience. Figure out the answer to that last problem and there's a job waiting for you in publishing. I also suspect, and it's purely a guess, that the female readership of tomchandler.name and the other frequently visited fly fishing blogs, is unlikely to be much bigger than 8%....if it's as big.
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“I learned early that testosterone is the primary cause of stupidity". (My apologies to the author, I have forgotten his name". Who the hell is the knucklehead who feels only 10% of his readership is women...idiot. Wat to many perople who feel "they" are important trying to agree. You travel in a world I would not be welcome in...I have problems calling a spade anything but. Interesting to say the ... more least.
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Yeah. I feel your pain. One of the reasons AFFTA gave was that OR wouldn't give them inside space for casting ponds. Uh, from my last visit to FFR, the only reason the casting ponds were so big was that they needed to fill space. Spey casting? Even better, takes up more space. I did have a very short but interesting discussion with a not-to-be-named fly fishing magazine editor. I asked how many of ... more his readers were women. He looked at me like I was taking powerful stimulants. "I dunno, about 10% I think..." His conclusion was that women aren't really into fly fishing. I suppose so. Maybe there's some opportunity there...ya think? I'm disappointed that there won't be a fly fishing component at OR, at least formally. I hope that some of the FFR folks come over to OR. I like them. They're water cousins and we should be spending more time together.
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