More than 28,000 Outdoor Retailers Winter and Summer Markets participants were invited to take a survey where the vendors and attendees alike were asked whether or not the show should stay in Utah after the conference contract expires in 2014. And the survey results are in: Outdoor retailer showed there is a consistent divide in whether or not retailers want to stay in Salt Lake City.
Outdoor Retailer, a tradeshow facilitator for one of the largest outdoor sports industry event of the year, is expected to make a decision on whether or not to keep the shows and estimated $39.6 million worth of business to Utah in the state or to move to an area with more lodging and conference space. As the show continues to grow year to year, attracting more and more retailers and exhibitors, the lodging availability and conference space has quickly evaporated, meaning the show may have to choose between limiting the growth of the conference or leaving.
"There was a high expectation that this survey would reflect a lot of the responses we've collected after the years," said Kenji Haroutunian, the OR Show Director and VP of the Nelson Expo Outdoor Group. " There's a lot of support to keep it in Salt Lake City, but nothing came in as a majority. And we didn't expect to see any kind of consensus in the responses. It's an international show with hundreds of thousands of attendees coming in from all over the world."
"There are features of the city, the convention center and the downtown area that will be hard to replicate anywhere else," he added.
In the process of collecting the surveys, the Outdoor Retailer received complaints concerning Utah's environmental policies, Haroutunian said.
"There has been a lot of airing of greivances when it came to the governor's environmental stance," he said. " but the decision to stay or got does not hinge on any political initiatives in Utah. We're really looking more at basic fundamentals like rooms, restaurants, taxis and general infrastructure."
According to the survey data compiled by Outdoor Retailer, 41 percent of exhibitors voted against keeping both shows in Salt Lake City but limiting the growth Forty percent were in favor. When asked whether or not to keep both shows stay in Salt Lake City and reduce certain market segments at the conference, 36 percent of exhibitors voted against, 19 percent were neutral and 45 percent were in favor. Moving both shows to another venue was split, with 41 percent against, 18 percent neutral and 41 percent in favor. Respondents were more likely to support moving the summer market but not the winter market.
"We have to seriously consider this move, if we're going to make it or not," Haroutunian said. "Right now, we're contracted through 2014 which means we will be staging the 2014 OR Summer Market in Salt Lake City."
"We want to make sure we let the market know a few years in advance where we might be going," he added. "We're going to make a decision for 2015 this winter, and whether that includes a multi-year agreement depends on what Salt Lake City puts on the table and what other venues are putting out there too. In end, decision has to consider all the moving parts about the show."