IPR issues will 'continue to happen' says show manager Trevor Trumbo
What were the final attendance figures for the 2007 Dealer Expo?
Trumbo: Our 2007 Dealer Expo Attendee Analysis Report will be available around April 18. Initial reports, however, indicate that 74 percent of attendees classified themselves as dealers/retailers, and the remaining 26 percent were exhibitors or other business types — media, importers, exporters, etc.
We are changing to a new registration vendor for the 2008 show. To complete the transition of the registration data from the old vendor to the new vendor, the data must be scrubbed and verified, and that's a process that can take several weeks to complete. So it's possible that we won't have a clear picture of our show numbers for another month or more.
The Midwest and East Coast were hit by a blizzard just before the show opened. How much of a headache did the weather cause?
Trumbo: The primary challenge was with the exhibitors and their freight; the timing of the storm delayed freight shipments to Indianapolis and caused travel headaches for exhibitors flying to Indianapolis on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the show opened. The storms that hit Thursday night and Friday meant that not all attendees were able to arrive on Friday night for the show's Saturday opening. Instead, many arrived on Saturday and then hit the show that afternoon, and again on Sunday.
Our take: Dealernews heard predictions that attendance was lighter than 2006 (which surpassed 20K). Traffic in the halls was jammed on Saturday, and stayed steady throughout midafternoon on Sunday. Seminar attendance was solid except for the late-afternoon timeslot. Trumbo may be on-target with the quality issue, for we heard a number of exhibitors comment that the dealers were in town to "do serious business."
Trumbo reports that at least 75 percent of this year's exhibitors have already renewed their booth contracts for next year's show, which will mark the 40th anniversary of Dealer Expo.
Attorneys reportedly served papers to at least seven exhibitors, charging them with IPR infringement. And one exhibitor told us he had to "shoo" away people who would literally crawl under the vehicles in his booth to take close-up digital photos, presumably to copy the designs. How will the show address this problem?
Trumbo: We expect the number of international attendees to remain the same as the 2006 show, where about 26 percent of attendees were from outside the United States. As the business continues to grow on a global scale, issues such as intellectual property rights and copyright infringement complaints will happen.
Dealer Expo respects third parties' intellectual property rights but remains a neutral party until an official judgment has been presented. Dealer Expo provides letters to companies that are shown to be violating another exhibitor's rights. Continued willful disregard by an exhibitor of third parties' rights can lead to suspension of that exhibitor's rights to participate in future Dealer Expo events.
Our take: It happened 40 years ago, and it will happen again. Brand managers should be vigilant, and dealers should take steps to ensure they carry products that are free of IPR hassles.
Will the ShowConnect matchmaking service return?
Trumbo: About 30 percent of show participants used the ShowConnect service during the eight months it was active. ShowConnect likely will be back next year, although not in its current format. Our switch to a new registration vendor means that the matchmaking software will be somewhat different. Users, however, can expect to have the ability to find one another based on geographic location, product categories and other markers.
In 2006 there were assorted problems with room reservations. How did the housing process perform this time?
Trumbo: This year we used a new housing vendor, Travel Planners. We heard from attendees and exhibitors that the housing process had fewer problems than in past years. There will always be some attendees and exhibitors who don't get placed in their first (or even second) choice of hotel.
We work with the host hotels every year; the show reserves a block of nearly 5,000 rooms, the majority of which are in the downtown area. There are more hotel rooms projected to be available in coming years, and we will put significant effort into securing those rooms for the show.
Should attendees start reserving their tables at St. Elmo's now?
Trumbo: It doesn't hurt ...