Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ispo: helping your business 365 days a year

The ispo 2013 February sports retail trade show

This year’s ispo was the biggest ever, with both visitor and exhibitor numbers on the rise

While national shows around the globe are suffering due to the economic downturn, the ispo show keeps growing every year. The recent growth can be attributed to the trend that in tough times people start to re-evaluate their business and look to focus on different brands that might do better for them, suggests Tobias Gröber, business unit leader for the show organisers, Messe München International.

Tobias Gröber, business unit leader for Messe München International business unit II

The 2013 ispo Munich show, which ran 3-6 February, saw more than 81 000 visitors attending from 109 countries – a four percent growth from 2012.
There was also an increase in exhibitor numbers. This year visitors could visit 2 481 exhibitors from 52 countries, while in 2012 there were 2 344 from 51 countries. With the increase in exhibitors, the exhibition space also increased by 430m2 to 103 220m2.
Out of interest, in 1970, at the first ever ispo show, there were 816 exhibitors from 25 countries covering 45 000m2 of exhibition space. It attracted 10 777 visitors from 34 countries.
The majority of this year’s exhibitor growth came from the outdoor, fitness, performance and sportstyle categories.
While sourcing companies are an essential component of the industry, they are purposefully limited to two halls. This year the other 14 halls were taken up by action sports (three halls), outdoor (three halls), sport style (two halls), ski (two halls), and performance, ispo Vision, health/fitness and textrends/BrandNew (one hall each).
The biggest increase of visitors were those from Europe and Asia (66% of visitors came from Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and Great Britain). Of all the visitors, around 35% came from the host country Germany. It is significant is that there were quite a lot of French visitors, which is unusual says Gröber. “They don’t usually travel outside of their country to attend shows.”
He attributes the increase in French visitors to ispo’s network of people working in various countries. They set up an info centre network, consisting of people with a history of working in each country’s industry – people who understand the challenges and how the industry operates, as each country is often unique in how they tackle problems.

Internet no obstacle to trade show

Ispo has grown in popularity despite the easy communication offered by the internet.
In the past, before the widespread availability of information on the internet, companies had very little choice but to exhibit at trade shows in order to show other companies their products or new technologies that they have developed. Today, with a press of a button businesses from all over the world can connect with each other through email and the internet.
The internet lacks one vital component that makes for a good business relationship: personal face-to-face relationships. This is quite probably one of the reasons why the stands with the after-show drinks are often so popular.
It is also sometimes difficult to filter out the information online – to get to the pieces of information that you are looking for, that is sometimes hidden in between other that is less relevant. By talking to a person at a trade show, you can have a live demonstration and feel of the product, which is not as easy in an online relationship, he explains.


Messe München International decided a few years ago to rethink what they offer through ispo. The result is that ispo has changed from a four day trade show, to a 365 days a year networking service - a network of services designed to assist businesses. “We are no longer a BTB service,” says Gröber. “We are a BTB-to-C service, assisting businesses to reach not only each other, but also the consumer.”
The services are not only for select members of the trade. They are there to connect every person who earns money in one form or another through sport, for example coaches, resorts that offer sport, event organisers, companies that invest and sponsor sport events, etc.
People are kept connected and informed - both online and offline - through various channels, for example, through ispo’s newsletter and magazine.
They also offer a networking service, through which companies can make use of ispo’s extensive database to make connections. For example, if a brand wants to find a distributor in a new country, they can book a tailor-made service where ispo will make a customised search on their database for the type of company that they would want to do business with, based on a profile specified by the brand.
Alternatively, a company can make use of the online ispo Connect to make new contacts. Both exhibitors and visitors to the ispo show benefit from ispo Connect – before, during and after the show.
The recently launched ispo Jobs has proven to be popular. The platform allows companies to post jobs and individuals to search for positions.
They also help promote new companies through the BrandNew Awards. In addition to the coverage that they receive while at the ispo show, the winners are also supported post-show by ispo through the marketing material that ispo makes available for the companies and retailers to use.
The ispo Munich 2014 trade show will be held 26-29 January.

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