Across the world trade show organisers are facing the same dilemma: to allow consumers at a trade show, or not. In Australia the Fishing Tackle Association (AFTA) decided to allow consumers to attend the last day of its trade show in August this year as an experiment … and lost and won exhibitors.

As can be expected, this had been a divisive topic. Newer AFTA members, who don’t share the traditional view that a trade show is a place for doing business with retail customers only, have been campaigning to allow consumers to come and view the latest products. They won the concession that the last day (Saturday August 17th) will be open to members of the public – and depending on the success, this might become the norm.

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The first two days – Thursday and Friday 15 and 16 August – will be open to registered trade only.

Other, more traditional members, decided that the mayhem that could result when anglers swamp stands, wanting to buy the products that would only be available in retail at a future date, would not be good for business, and declined to join the show. Although some more traditional-minded AFTA members decided to exhibit and see for themselves whether this move is desirable.

The result was that there was still some exhibition space left less than three weeks before the show, AFTA Chairman Colin Tannahill told Angling International. But, if the consumer attendance is a success and drives retail sales, the show could be extended to major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. It is currently hosted in the Australia Gold Coast Convention Centre in Queensland.

With an estimated 3.4-m recreational anglers, Australia’s fishing industry offers a substantial market. There will also be a concerted effort to involve more women in the sport during the show. The organisation Women in Recreational Fishing (WIRF) offered eight female anglers an all-expenses paid trip to the show in order to speak to recreational fishing industry heavy-weights about women’s representation in the fishing community, how to improve as an angler and inspire, etc.