When Brad Peterson, Director of the Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, asked me to speak at the 2nd annual Recreation Summit in Utah, I immediately jumped at the chance. Check out the event tagline, how could I refuse?
“We bring you an incredible selection of world-class thought leaders and outdoor advocates from across a variety of fields. Each will offer their unique perspectives that will provoke to action.”
Suffice to say I was excited at the opportunity to bring my own story and counsel to a business audience, since I had recently left my post as show director of Outdoor Retailer to strike out on my own in service to the industry with my new company, Kenjiconsults.com.
An important part of this year’s Summit focused on the Outdoor Retailer shows. He looked to me to offer some tangible takeaways to the audience regarding how to get the most out of the Outdoor Retailer shows.
It’s great that he thought of me, as I’m very eager to share my experience from eight-plus years as Show Director, and 15 with Outdoor Retailer. I was able to offer a mix of insight into the growth of the shows, trends in the trade show market and some take-aways for the audience regarding how to integrate online and digital engagement strategies to the industry. I’ve literally seen thousands of campaigns rise and fall in the outdoor market, and in Kenji Consults, I use this experience to guide businesses and organizations of many types to get more out of their events and to grow the business sustainably. I have to applaud the State of Utah for furthering support for the growth engine that is the outdoor industry. Did you know that Salt Lake City is host to the 29th and 36th largest trade shows in the country (as of 2014 stats)?
These shows have captured the imagination of thousands of business leaders and decision-makers from every state and dozens of countries. Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets now bring a diverse range of buyers, including fashion to military gear, equipment for ice climbing to handbags that sell next to Prada, and footwear that’s well suited to strut the Sundance Film Festival streets. Dare I say it’s become relevant to a mainstream consumer as the place where Function meets Fashion? Yes, I will dare to say it, because it’s true and also, a very good thing! I vote for anything that will expand the portal of the outdoor industry to new members and participants – it’s always been my career mission and continues to be in Kenjiconsults.
To give you an insider’s perspective from this year’s Summit, consider the following:
SOME INTERESTING FACTOIDS ABOUT THE UTAH RECREATION ECONOMY
NOTE: The Outdoor Industry Association created a moniker for the segment of the economy powered by outdoor industries as the “Recreation Economy”. The following stats were pulled from materials provided by the Summit this year.
Did you know that:
– The Outdoor Industries drive 12 Billion dollars of the Utah State economy.
– The Outdoor Industries provide- 122,000 jobs in the State of Utah.
– The Outdoor Industries have expanded 14% in Utah in the past year.
– Seven companies in the Outdoor Industry (inclusive of bike) are moving/setting up significant job hubs in Utah this year (in Ogden, Southern Utah and the Greater Salt Lake City area).
I went into the 2015 Summit excited to learn from all of the panelists and the attendees. What an honor it was to be included in an all-star lineup of presenters and speakers, not the least of which was the Governor of Utah, Gary R. Herbert.
The Governor is the champion of the energy economy of Utah. I respect that he responded to a challenge issued to the State of Utah by the Outdoor Industry Association Board Of Directors in 2012, to recognize the Recreation Economy as equally important to the Utah economy as energy.
His response to the OIA showed true leadership and created the first of its kind Office Of Outdoor Recreation, reporting directly to the Governor himself. Since then, Brad Peterson has worked to support Outdoor Recreation in the state, by pursuing funding for support projects, gathering groups together to hash out differences to benefit the Recreation Infrastructure and launching a signature event to gather the stakeholders at one time in one place.
I encourage you to attend this awesome event next year, it was well worth the trip!
THE LINEUP – the entire lineup here… below were highlight presentations for me
Governor Gary R. Herbert, 17th Governor of Utah
Jerry Stritzke – REI CEO – spoke about ‘What we are For’; a challenge to the decision-makers obsessed with what they are against but aren’t putting forth a vision of their own. REI is for Inspiring Experiences, Rewarding Jobs, Healthy Lifestyles, Active Communities and a Healthy Planet. I can get behind that!
Chris Warner – Earth Treks Gym owner and K2 + Everest Expedition Leader
Stacy Bare – Director, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors program
Leslie Prevish – Marketing Consultant (Prevish Marketing) and former Harley-Davidson chief marketer
And. …. ?
My presentation focused on leveraging events like Outdoor Retailer to maximum engagement opportunities for businesses, through reach and activation .
One of the main points I emphasized in my 45-minute treatise was the value of events at the fundamental level. There is a LOT of research that continues to show that humans are social animals, and we gather in communities to interact as a natural course. We gather to witness the kill, to honor our dead, to bear witness to ceremony and seasonal change. We’ve done this from the beginning of recorded time, and certainly before that. It’s in our DNA. I realize that we may not ‘witness the kill’ at Outdoor Retailer or other industry gatherings (HA!); However, we most certainly do find incredible value in personally attending trade shows/business events because they are the modern manifestation of that need to interact in real-time with people, face-to-face, especially in this age of digital innovation and disruption.
I’ll share the full deck of my presentation at some point but I’m making some tweaks… stay tuned and subscribe to my forthcoming newsletter. In it, I’ll be covering that defined margin where business events touch the specialty retail world. (I’ve coined the term ‘Business Ecotone‘ to describe this exact phenomenon, derived from the natural science world of ecosystems analysis).
Takeaways – I need to reaaaaallly hone my presentation and presentation. Most of the presentations I saw were quite good. But I also learned that a powerful deck can be morphed to fit many presentation situations… so once my deck is honed, I can make tweaks and make it relevant and powerful for many business situations. Score! The recreation economy is meaningful to many more people than simply the brands located in (or moving business operations to) Utah, or for companies in the active outdoor lifestyle markets.
Resource management agencies, municipal and county governments, and businesses/organizations connected to the growing industry (and the OR Shows) are part of the Rec Economy ecosystem. I applaud the Gov. of Utah for his vision in this regard.
I’m very proud to be part of this vibrant community. It’s my hope (and I hope to work toward this in Kenji Consults), that the State of Utah’s commitment, investments and resources to further the state’s Recreation Economy will become a model for other states to follow.