Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Outdoor Retailer unveiled its new housing plan for Summer Market 2013, saying the new system places a greater priority on retailers and expands options that will be better serviced by public transportation and complimentary shuttles.
The biggest change shifts the hotel and housing reservation period to four months prior to each show, rather than a year out, and will eventually require badge reservation beforehand.
The closer-to-event-date reservation helps level the playing field for retailers, who don’t always know their availability and open-to-buy dollars a year out, said Outdoor Retailer Show Director Kenji Haroutunian. At the same time, it prevents all attendees from over-booking too early with staffing numbers that ultimately change over the course of a year, he said.
“This is a more logical and chronological process, Haroutunian said. “You register, then you get to pick your housing.”
All this being said, Outdoor Retailer is providing a transition period — giving most of those who booked with the Summer Market Housing Block 2012 the first priority to stay where they are for 2013. Confirmation emails begin going out March 12 and 26 depending on the hotel (see list here).
The exception is about 180 people, who Outdoor Retailer has identified as lower-priority attendees.
“These are people who are not retailers, exhibitors, reps or media — they might be friends of companies or a financial analyst,” Haroutunian said. “We’re not trying to kick them out of the show, they’re still welcome, we’re just asking to accept a hotel assignment further out from the Salt Palace to open up some more space downtown for retailers.”
Registered attendees and exhibitors who have not booked in previous years will be able to request hotel reservations in late March to early April when Summer Market 2013 badge registration opens.
With Outdoor Retailer’s decision to keep its trade shows in Salt Lake City through 2016, changes like these, and perhaps a few more tweaks, will be required during the next few years to handle growing attendance, Haroutunian said. He expects mixed reaction to these latest changes, but just like the reservation changes made a year ago, Haroutunian thinks most will welcome a system that aids retailers and other qualified attendees. And, he said, not every retailer necessarily will take up the option to stay in the city — some will prefer getting a better deal by staying further out of town.
One of those new inexpensive options debuting at Summer Market 2013 is at the University of Utah Olympic Athlete Village, where 1,000 additional beds will be available in a semi-dormitory setting (linen, food and other amenities are being worked out). The cost will be $50 per bed in rooms of two or four. Complimentary shuttles and the nearby TRAX rail line will service the location, which is about four miles from the convention center.
Additionally, the TRAX line will begin its service to-and-from the airport, providing hotels out by the airport greater access to the Salt Palace.
“We’re trying to make this a citywide experience, instead of all being packed in like sardines downtown,” Haroutunian said. “We think that’s achievable with the right transportation options.”
The new housing system is being managed by Travel Planners, more information is available at outdoorretailer.com/housing.
What’s your opinion of Outdoor Retailer’s new housing plan? Give us feedback on our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SNEWSfan