ASR Trade Show Driector Kevin Flanagan has miles to go before he sleeps. Not only does he have to negotiate a choppy U.S. trade-show market, but he’s also heading up ASR’s new push into Europe.
Since its launch announcement in November, a lot has happened with this new ASR Europe show, which will take place July 6-8, 2003 on the beach of Chambre d’Amour in Anglet, France. TransWord SURF Business sat down with Flanagan in late February to see how the show was progressing, who’s signed up, and what the show will look like. We also asked how the Prestige oil spill might affect the event.
At what stage of the planning process are you with ASR Europe?
Kevin Flanagan: We’re pretty far along the track. We have an office established in Anglet that’s being built out right now. It should be fully operational in about two weeks. We’ve got a staff of three full-time employee — a project coordinator and two sales people. We’ve got the location nailed down in Anglet. It’s called the “Chambre d’Amour,” which translates as “the love room,” and it’s in front of some great surfing.
What will the show look like?
The show will be staged in large tents, but very well done and professional tents that we’re bringing in from Germany. It’s going to be in the shape of a “U,” and some dining and special events like vert skating will in the center. It will include street and vert skating and some surf contests out on the beach.
We’re going to have about 8,000 square meters of tent space, and we expect to sell about 4,000 square meters of exhibit space. We’ll probably have about 300 exhibitors.
How many exhibitors have signed up so far?
We have about 2,000 square meters sold. So we have half the show sold already, and we’re a little bit ahead of schedule. But I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. In trade shows, the last few square meters are always the most difficult to sell.
Will this trade show be different from your other events?
It will be dramatically different. The fact that it will be held on the beach, not in a convention center, will make it different. We’ll have different European cultural influences, and there’s going to be different activities. One of them will maybe be a shuttle bus to Pamplona for the running of the bulls.
The oil spill has been on everyone’s mind. Do you anticipate that it will affect the show?
Well, yeah, it could affect the show. But let me say this: the show will be held regardless. In other words, we’ve gotten approval from the chamber of commerce and the mayor to hold the show even if the beaches are closed. The response was, even if you can’t swim in the water because of the oil spill, people will still be able to have access to the beach, will be able to walk on the beach and take advantage of the beachfront — which we intend to do. Clearly, if the beaches are closed, there will be more hotels available and the city will be considerably easier to navigate for attendees coming to the show. At the same time, we’re hopeful that the beaches will be open and we’ll be able to hold surf demonstrations out front.
How many exhibitors will be new to ASR?
There will be quite a few new companies: I don’t know if they’re going to account for a ton of exhibit floorspace because the shared customers will be taking the larger stands. For example, Quiksilver, Billabong, and Rip Curl attend in the U.S., and they’ll be attending in Europe, and they’ll take a big chunk of floorspace. But there are certainly a lot of European-based companies that will be at the show for the first time. It’s an opportunity for us to expose ASR to those customers and to those brands, so we’re really excited about that.
In terms of the buy-sell cycle, is July a good time for a show?
Absolutely, that’s really the crux of why we’re doing the show. We saw an opportunity and aa need for a show with earlier dates. There’s a huge vacation that everyone takes in Europe — everyone takes off for six weeks, and the retailers have to be in the stores during that time period. That’s when they make a majority of their sales. So it was key for everybody involved to have a show earlier in the sell cycle so that they can preview the lines and have the opportunity to make some decisions before they go into this long holiday season.
What will ASR Europe offer that the late June ISPO show won’t?
The ASR show will be one week after ISPO. The fact is ISPO is a very successful show, but they’re not able to draw as many people from southern Europe, so those people don’t have a show that is necessarily meeting all of their needs. We expect a lot of stores and retailers coming from Spain and France. We’ll also certainly have a few retailers from Italy who tend to vacation in France during the summertime. This will be a show that will be closer in proximity to them, easier for them to get to, and a show that they’ll relate to a little more than a German show.