How One Simple Change Upped Attendance at This Trade Show

The P.G.A. Show created a new pricing plan and offered single-session tickets to address the needs of busy attendees.

By Mitra Sorrells January 28, 2014, 7:00 AM EST

Donald Trump, who has developed several golf courses, joined several golf industry executives for a panel discussion the first day of the show. The presentation took place in a large studio built on the trade show floor.

Photo: Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America

The P.G.A. Merchandise Show is seeing the value of listening to its attendees. Surveys of some of the more than 40,000 golf professionals and retailers who attended in recent years revealed that many were not registering for the education sessions because they were too busy taking in other offerings, which include a trade show with products filling 10 miles of aisles, industry meetings, fashion shows, and production demonstrations. So for this year’s show, which wrapped up Friday at the Orange County Convention Center, organizers allowed attendees to register for single sessions, rather than having to buy more costly full-day passes. The result: more than 850 people registered for the education conference this year, up from 420 in 2013.

“As we began to add more and more activities, [attendees] still want to catch a couple of sessions, but they didn’t have the time to dedicate the entire day,“ said Ed Several, senior vice president and general manager of P.G.A. Worldwide Golf Exhibitions. “You’re not going to buy a full-day pass if you can only attend one or two sessions.”

Several said there was initially some concern about “cannibalizing the entire conference program” by allowing attendees to select individual sessions, but organizers felt it was necessary to respond to customers’ needs, and the results show it was the right decision. Attendees purchased 370 single-session tickets, which ranged in price from $75 to $125 each. Full-day passes started at $275 and three-day passes started at $445. Figures are still being totaled, but Several said the show’s total revenue is up compared to last year.

Also as a result of attendee feedback, organizers shifted the schedule to run Tuesday to Friday, allowing participants to get home and back to their facilities in time for the weekend. The show also revamped its education program, bringing in high-profile partners such as Disney Institute, Turner Sports, and the Titleist Performance Institute to lead some of the seminars.

“We are bringing in bigger, bolder topics to help exponentially move the business forward,” Several said.

The show filled one million square feet of the convention center; the bulk of the space was used for the trade show with nearly 1,000 exhibitors.

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