The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association last week released statistics from the 2003 DEMA Trade Show, verifing that this year’s show set a number of new records, and in doing so set the standard by which future shows will be judged.
From the presentation of the keys to the city of Miami Beach by Mayor David Dermer to Bob Hollis, President of DEMA and Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA and the crowded exhibit halls of opening day, to the Industry Awards Party celebrating the best and the brightest of our industry, the DEMA Show 2003 gave a new definition to the word success.
Show total registrations (exhibitor and attendees) surpassed all previous registration records.
The number of exhibitors was the highest recorded in the 27-year history of the show.
Show Attendance (attendees and exhibitors combined):
2003:15,037 (Miami Beach),
2002:13,387 (Las Vegas),
2001:12,510 (New Orleans),
2000:13,828 (Las Vegas).
2003:733 exhibiting companies,
2002:721 exhibiting companies,
2001:669 exhibiting companies,
2000:669 exhibiting companies.
Additionally, the show was covered by the highest number of media ever to attend a DEMA show, with 217 credentialed press in attendance, 40 of whom were from International outlets, and a record 914 attendees and exhibitors gathered at the Industry Awards Party to honor this year’s Reaching Out Award winners.
This year’s show was also unique in that the issue of keeping the show “Trade-Only” was strongly addressed. According to Tom Ingram, DEMA’s Executive Director, more than 200 potential attendees were turned away because they lacked the proper qualifications to participate. “We welcome the Diving Industry to the DEMA Show, but it is important to protect the integrity of a trade-only event,” said Ingram. “Our goals for the future include continuous strengthening of the show’s trade-only status, making it truly an event in which exhibitors can feel comfortable discussing the terms of their sales, and knowing that only appropriate attendees are there to do business.”
“While the numbers speak for themselves, they do not tell the whole story” according to Ingram. “The slowed economy, international events, and reduced consumer confidence are still affecting sales in the Industry, but the energy surrounding the Show was very positive and optimistic, the show floor was busy, and the layout of the convention center made it easy to get around this year,” he concluded. “People were there to do business and we know the face-to-face meetings at the show are important for them as they look forward to improvement in the economy and the return of consumer confidence.”
Many exhibitors were also upbeat. Brad Lally, Product Manager for Tabata USA (TUSA) described his experience with the 2003 show: “TUSA was able to communicate face-to-face with our dealers. As a result dealers visiting the booth were very receptive to the TUSA’s new policies and direction, and new product orders for both hardware and soft goods surpassed our expectations.”
Capt. Spencer Slate wrote to DEMA and indicated “...for me the show was great, my boats are full from the show now; I got immediate results…” Dan Babcock of XS Scuba relayed this message to Tom Ingram via email: “...I want to be one of the first to send big CONGRATULATIONS to you and the entire DEMA staff for putting on a very successful trade show.” Jim and Susan Joiner from Best Books wrote to DEMA with the following: “Tom, just a note to tell you what a great job you did with the Dema show this year. It was totally organised from the beginning to the end. Everything ran so smoothly, as an exhibitor I could not have forgotten to do something if I tried, you sent our constant reminders that really helped us prepare for the show.” And from Betsy Royal, Vice President Diving, Mares/Sporasub/Dacor: “The show was positive for Mares/Dacor Diving. Miami is particularly well suited for our industry.”
The culmination of the Show’s many networking events and parties was the Diving Industry Awards Party, sponsored by the City of Houston (DEMA’s host city for 2004) and emceed by Stan Waterman. The Awards Party brought together the entire Industry to celebrate the lifetime achievements of the best and brightest. The DEMA “Reaching Out Awards” were presented to recognise individuals who have made a significant contribution to the diving community by “reaching out” to bring diving to people throughout the world. This year’s recipients were Ed Christini, President of Scuba Schools International (SSI), Jean Gallagher, long-time Educator and Retailer, and Photographer/Teacher Jim Church (posthumously). In addition, the first ever award for 20 years of service to the DEMA Board of Directors was presented posthumously to John J. Cronin and received by Jan Cronin.