Roy Turner on How Virtual Surf Expo Will Work, Committed Brands
Surf Expo is getting ready to launch its first ever virtual trade show.
Roy Turner, SVP of Emerald and Surf Expo Show Director, answered some questions for us about how the virtual show will work, what brands have signed on so far, and how the company is planning the January 2021 show.
How will the virtual show work?
Roy Turner: Our goal is to provide an easy way for our buyers to connect with our brands through an easy-to-navigate website. While this does not replace our face-to-face event, our virtual show will allow retailers to connect with key brands as well as find new ones this fall.
One week before the full show launches, the virtual show’s exhibitor directory will open for qualified buyers and participating brands so they can contact one another for appointments. Then, on Sept. 16, the virtual booths, manned by the brand teams will open and run 10 am to 6 pm EST through Sept. 18. Booths will remain open for 60 days after the official show ends, so buyers can access them for reference.
Once a retailer logs into our platform, they will be able to easily search by brand, product category and individual products. Our navigation will also highlight new products, show specials and brands that have “at once” product ready to ship. Keynote speakers, special events, seminars and awards programs will take place each day, as well as in-booth events that brands have planned which can include fashion shows, line showings, product releases and demos, and pro athlete interviews.
Unlike face-to-face events, communication within the booth will rely on live chat and video meetings in addition to request forms and downloads. Brands can interface with their current B2B platform or rely on catalogs and price sheets to deliver product information.
Both retailers and brands will have access to their own “Dashboard” where they can manage aspects of their show experience.
We are seeing brands experiment with their virtual booth buildouts and offerings within the technology. Many are taking a product/sales focus while others are using it as a marketing/branding opportunity to tell their brand stories.
What are some of the brands that have signed up?
Roy Turner: We have a great representation of brands across all of our show categories. In our boardsports category, key brands include: Billabong, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Roxy, Body Glove, L*Space, Yeti, Surftech, Firewire, Simbi, Tahe Outdoors, JETTY, Flojo’s, Havaianas, Globe, 4ocean, Psycho Tuna and SMITH Optics.
What has been the retailer response?
Roy Turner: The retailer response has been fantastic, not only from key U.S. retailers, but from our Caribbean, Central and South American accounts as well. Stores including 17th Street Surf Shop, Heritage Surf & Sport, Cinnamon Rainbows, Surf Ride, Barefoot Ski Ranch, Aqua East, Beach.ly, Hi Tech Surf Sports, evo, Tyler’s, Glik’s, Jack’s Surfboards and many more are registered to attend, with more coming on board daily.
Are you offering tools or training so both brands and retailers know how to navigate the system and take advantage of what it offers?
Roy Turner: We have held several webinars and have on-demand training videos to help brands build out their virtual booths. We will be releasing site specific instructions over the next week, with suggestions on how to get the most out of the virtual experience for all who attend.
What about events or other types of content? How will those be integrated into the show?
Roy Turner: We will offer both live and recorded events including panel discussions, keynote speakers, educational seminars and awards. Live events will be recorded for later viewing. All content will remain up for this show and 60 days post event for easy reference.
What is the thinking on the January 2021 show? Is Surf Expo planning that to be an in-person event?
Roy Turner: Currently we are planning for a hybrid event leveraging our virtual website platform as a preview event for the in-person show scheduled for Jan. 6-8, 2021. Our research shows that our brands and retailers want face-to-face events and we are planning for a safe, in-person event to bring our industry back together in 2021.