Most Innovative Meetings 2017: #7 P.G.A. Merchandise Show

Year-round conversations with influential buyers allow organizers to create a successful customized experience.

By Martha C. White October 31, 2017, 6:25 AM EDT

The 2017 show included more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and brands and 40,000 golf industry pros from 90 countries.

Photo: Montana Pritchard/P.G.A. of America

With more than 40,000 golf professionals and retailers from 90 countries in attendance, the P.G.A. Merchandise Show is the world’s largest gathering for the retail golf industry. Along with an extensive education conference, the trade show filled more than 10 miles of aisles with exhibits from more than 1,000 brands for the January 2017 event at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

To ensure their most influential buyers are not overwhelmed and are able to fulfill their business goals, organizers have developed a program just for them called the Targeted Attendee Program, shortened as TAP.

“It’s not just about getting them to the show and offering perks and amenities and doing things to make them feel special. That’s stuff I assume a lot of groups are doing,” said Marc Simon, event director for P.G.A. Golf Exhibitions. “But it’s taking that next level at the show to foster connections, and really introducing those key buyers not only to the larger brands in the industry but to some of the smaller and new companies.”

Throughout the year, organizers conduct meetings, in person and via email and phone, with the TAP buyers to assess the types of products and intelligence they will be looking for at the show. “We share that with the sales team so if we don’t have a match with the necessary exhibitor they can go out and find that person,” said Liz Reed, senior director of industry development for P.G.A. Golf Exhibitions.

Prior to the event, TAP participants receive a “look book” filled with profiles of new products being launched at the show. The night before the show opens, TAP participants attend the “One2One Summit,” a daylong “speed dating” experience of meetings with a curated group of exhibitors intended to build relationships.

“It’s a wonderful way, particularly for new exhibitors, to meet a very high-level profile buyer,” Reed said. “We go through the matchmaking process, and then on site they go through 10 to 12 appointments. And it’s at the beginning so they can continue that dialogue on the show floor.”

Once the show opens, TAP participants have access to a dedicated lounge and tours of the show floor led by staff that have expertise in their segment, such as apparel or equipment.

The TAP program included 1,356 attendees in 2017, a 28 percent increase since 2015. Reed said it’s growing every year, both because the show itself is growing and adding new exhibitor segments and because high participant satisfaction—both from buyers and exhibitors—is generating interest in the program. For 2017, the program received a 91 percent satisfaction rating from participants.

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