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Denver Bumps STAFDA 2018 Convention In Favor of Outdoor Retailer Trade Show

Denver Bumps STAFDA 2018 Convention In Favor of Outdoor Retailer Trade Show
October 02
13:36 2017

The Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association is relocating its 2018 convention from Denver to Phoenix.

The City of Denver bumped the 42nd annual STAFDA convention in favor of the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer Show, which had been in Salt Lake City for 20 years.

STAFDA was last in Phoenix in 2015 and will return there October 28-30, 2018.

Executive director Georgia Foley explained that on June 20, STAFDA was notified that another group was being booked over the same dates.

“The City of Denver presented STAFDA with the optional dates of either the first week of October or Thanksgiving week. Neither were doable,” Foley said.

STAFDA was told the change was “political” and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was involved.

Foley said cities rarely move a convention “and not 1.5 years out from the actual meeting date. A three-year courtesy is the norm when a group is being displaced.”

STAFDA books five years in advance to ensure convention center availability to coincide with hotel availability. With STAFDA’s size and use of multiple hotels, a 1.5 year window to find another city with convention center and hotel availability was nearly an impossible task.

Within 48 hours, the City of Phoenix “pulled a rabbit out of the hat” with an offer for the Phoenix Convention Center and convenient hotels.

Outdoor Retailers participants had “became openly vocal” about Utah leaders’ opposition to a new designation of Bears Ears National Monument. Utah Governor Gary Herbert denounced the complaints.

Show management said by relocating to Denver, they are flexing the industry’s collective power and support of public lands. The Outdoor Retailer Show is a twice-yearly expo which generates $45 million in annual direct spending in the host city.

Foley said Denver contacted her in March asking about changing the 2018 dates because the city was “courting” a “mega-client.” Foley declined. In May, Foley got the final paperwork and deposit schedule from the Colorado Convention Center and thought the mega-client issue was solved. 

But on June 20 after a friendly email exchange, Foley got a call from the Denver sales manager saying, “We need to talk.”

Minutes later “her boss was on the phone telling me STAFDA was out for 2018 because the ‘mega-client’ took our dates.”

Foley contacted previous STAFDA convention cities plus Seattle.

“I’m eternally grateful for all the cities I called on – Phoenix, Vegas, San Diego, Anaheim, Seattle – who literally set everything aside to help us,” Foley said. “They called in their sales teams and did nothing short of scramble to help us. They know we got a really raw deal from Denver to toss us out – 1.5 years out from our meeting was beyond bad business.”

Foley said STAFDA brings an average of 4,500 people to each host city.

Foley didn’t learn of the “mega-client” being the Outdoor Retailers until reading a news article while she was in Jackson Hole, WY. Denver officials had refused to tell STAFDA the replacement’s name.

“In all fairness to Denver, when a city looks at booking a citywide convention, for multiple years, and the revenue generated outside the convention itself, I can see where the Outdoor Retailer Show would be more attractive than us,” Foley acknowledged. “But I do fault Denver for their lousy handling and I fault the Retailer Show for not having enough respect for other contracted shows to work around them.”

Another rare city switch was the 1972 Republican National Convention moving from San Diego to Miami Beach three months before the event. Columnist Jack Anderson had exposed an ITT pledge toward San Diego in return for a Department of Justice antitrust case settlement.

STAFDA previously was in Denver in 1999 and 2008.

The 2017 STAFDA convention will be November 12-14 in Austin, TX. Future STAFDA conventions are 2019 in Nashville; 2020 Anaheim; 2021 Charlotte; and 2022 San Diego. Web: Stafda.org

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