ICAST was a blur for me. Meetings every half hour on the half hour over three days plus three presentations and lots of “just-stopping-by-to-say-hello.” It takes a lot out of me, and has me wishing I was 20 years younger, 30 pounds lighter and 50 IQ points smarter.
But my shortcomings do not diminish the ICAST experience in any way. In fact, I think it was probably the best ICAST I’ve ever attended … and I’ve been to a few.
My thanks and congratulations go out to the staff and volunteers of the American Sportfishing Association. They did a stellar job, from President Glenn Hughes and Trade Show VP Blake Swango to contract staffers like Mike Bailey (who puts the New Product Showcase together) to the folks who work behind the scenes of our industry’s largest trade show. You were great.
As you must know by now, the show was very well attended. In fact, it was probably record-setting, especially when you consider that IFTD and parts of the fly-fishing industry were not in attendance this year.
We’ve come to expect big crowds, and that’s certainly an important metric for ICAST. If the people — manufacturers, buyers and media — don’t show up, no one is happy. At ICAST, we expect the right people, and they were there.
But what impressed me more than the attendance was the attitude on the floor. I talked to a lot of exhibitors and all told me that they had an excellent experience. It was the most positive “vibe” I’ve ever felt at ICAST.
For exhibitors, the crowds were strong and enthusiastic. For buyers, the new offerings were compelling and innovative. For media, there were great stories everywhere.
You just can’t ask for more than that.
I also loved the spotlight that ASA put on retailers this year. Fifteen different business development seminars targeted at retailers were offered at the show. All were free to anyone wearing an ICAST badge.
These seminars are a sign of how serious ASA is about growing the number of retail members in the organization. It’s one thing to say you want a certain type of member, but quite another to go out and create a program designed to make it happen.
I was thrilled that FTR was involved in two of the seminars — “Get More Out of Media” and “Advertising for Retailers.” If you were at ICAST, be on the lookout for a survey from ASA. Comment on the seminars you attended. That kind of feedback is the only way to improve things and add the kind of value that will keep you coming back.
Is there room for improvement? Of course, but the foundation is very strong. ASA and industry leaders are listening, and we have a reason to be extremely optimistic about our trade show.
Like I said, it was the best ICAST I’ve ever attended … and I’m expecting next year to be even better.