SIMA’s Surfscape Aims to Be Trade Show Complement
The Surf Industry Members Association isn’t trying to invent the next big trade show with its inaugural Surfscape event next month.
Instead, the consumer-facing surf gathering looks to create buzz around the sport and plug gaps left behind from now-defunct West Coast trade shows via two days of product demos, gear testing, brand exhibitors, food, workshops, and live performances.
“This is the first time we’re doing anything like this that is consumer-facing, that is a member-oriented evolution of the trade show environment, and that is really looking at how we get our members to engage with the consumer and get them excited,” said SIMA Executive Director Vipe Desai. “The trade show environment has changed out here on the West Coast. ASR went away. Agenda is not really a viable option for many of our members and Surf Expo (in Florida) is the one that’s really servicing the industry.”
Surfscape, set for April 29-30, has so far attracted Firewire, Xcel, Jack’s Surfboards, Jetty, Roxy, Roark, Quiksilver, Hobie Eyewear, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Rumpl, and Body Glove, among a number of other exhibitors.
“We’re excited to partake in Surfscape because a consumer-facing event to celebrate the surf industry as a whole is way overdue,” Jetty Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder Cory Higgins said. “We are thankful that Jetty is in a position after 20 years that we can fly across the country and be a part of it. Jetty has always believed in the ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ mentality and the Surfscape event is a great manifestation of that.”
Jetty is still working out what the brand will be showing at the event, but Higgins said it’s likely to include promotions and product giveaways.
A few more exhibit spots are open, although Desai said SIMA is close to capping participation for this year.
Desai said Surfscape in some ways draws inspiration from Camp Shred, which was held this past weekend at the San Elijo campgrounds in Cardiff By The Sea, by building on the surf demo-festival experience.
SIMA had entertained the idea of creating a West Coast trade show many years ago, but that was ultimately shelved, Desai said. New dynamics in the wholesale and business-to-consumer landscape made the Surfscape format the more viable option, he added.
Desai pointed to the number of West Coast brands in recent years that have invested into showrooms at their headquarters or stores, making the market well-positioned to service wholesale accounts without the need for another business-to-business model.
“What we can do is take advantage of the new and exciting trend in engaging with consumers,” Desai said of Surfscape’s potential. “All these consumer-facing events really seem to be the way to go for brands right now and we felt that a consumer event would be a better position for us that would be complementary to what Surf Expo and Emerald are doing.”
What to Expect
Currently, the mix of Surfscape exhibitors is about 15% to 20% large industry brands, while the remaining percentage is about evenly split between small and mid-size businesses.
SIMA expects a range of consumers to come to the free event.
“We’re not targeting any one specific group,” Desai said, adding attendees are likely to range from the novice to more advanced surfer. “We’re really looking at the crossover consumer. People now aren’t just into surfing. There’s a health and wellness and a fitness component to surfing. We’ve also invited some brands in the outdoor space that are close to camping and the whole van life experience. We’re not saying this is only surf-focused.”
Attendees will receive an NFC-enabled wristband from tech company Tap2Interact at the event entrance. The wristband can be paired with consumers’ personal information, if they choose, and allow them to receive promotional codes or sign up for brand communications at the event.
The idea is to create consistency in interactions with exhibitors and avoid the need to, for example, sign up on a clipboard at one booth, scan a QR code at another, or register on an iPad at still another vendor. At the same time, brands and SIMA can collect valuable consumer insights for individuals who opt into sharing their information.
Long-term, Desai sees potential to expand Surfscape.
He said he’s already exploring the possibility of making the event a traveling tour that would have stops in Northern California, the East Coast, and Hawaii.
“Obviously, this is our first event. We want to make this one successful, but already we’re off to a great start,” Desai said. “What we see is turning this event into something bigger and incorporating more surf and outdoor cultural aspects into the event.”