After my usual stop at Starbucks and the playful realization I should probably approach them about sponsoring Kitelife, my associate Rob and I wandered up the registration desk just before 9am to pick up our badges and made our way upstairs to the same meeting room we used yesterday, this time for the first session of the retailer’s exchange.
In this format, both web shops as well as brick and mortar shops offer techniques, solutions and problems that they have encountered in their trade… Among the topics discussed were store layouts, shortening promo videos to match customer attention spans and grouping manufacturer videos in shorter clips to cover more ground in less time.
After doing a head count, I took note of 50 people (including myself) in attendance… Other retail topics ranged from fluorescent versus natural lighting to loss/theft prevention tools, running festivals and fun flies to how to decide on an advertising budget, types of advertising to coupons and discounts… These guys, whether on the web or in storefronts, come here every year to try and improve their businesses and services.
Some of the most passionate discussions involved moving the trade show to more “all-inclusive” locations which would afford attendees the ability to visit the trade show floor, socialize in the evenings and fly more easily, all within the same area… Using Clearwater as an example, lodging is a fair distance from the convention center, and the beach is off in yet another direction, well beyond walking distance.
One of the aspects brought under discussion time and time again is how to bring the excitement and passion of kiting back into the KTAI… Certainly, operating the trade show in a more “kiter friendly” environment that can still accommodate business needs would be an excellent start on this road.
Session one of the retailers exchange finished up sometime around 11am, and picked up again 1:30pm… All in all, they must have spent a combined 4 hours or so in these meetings.
One of the things I noticed compared to last year is that there are no “pro” fliers tagging along with manufacturers this year, with the exception of Lee Sedgwick who continues to defy any sort of category… As far as known trick or competition fliers, it would seem I might just be the only representation this year, and I’m not attached to or affiliated with any attending manufacturer!
However, I was pleased to see two faces I haven’t seen in some time, let alone at a KTAI show… Joe Hadzicki, primary inventor of the Revolution… And Craig Wong, long time kite designer and enthusiast.
At one point, I actually did escape to a field out front with Joe and a couple of shop owners to play on the Blast in today’s 50 degree weather and 25+ mph breezes… Quite a shift in conditions from yesterday!
Throughout the course of the day, exhibitors worked tirelessly to set up their booths for the official start of the trade show tomorrow… While it may not be 100% accurate, I did overhear a total number of 17 exhibitors (companies with booths) in attendance this year.
As the evening came to a close, attendees gathered upstairs for cocktails and appetizers, making merry, socializing and forming those bonds that I really believe help cement this business organization.
Part way through the cocktail reception, a number of us made our way into a neighboring room for some indoor flying where there were Revolution UFOs a-plenty and an iNak from Skyburner… While the room was in use for a couple of hours, there were a surprisingly small number of fliers actually taking the opportunity to fly.
I absolutely must take a moment to thank Robert Randolph, not only for being my host for this visit to Florida, but primarily for his invaluable help in covering the event, taking photographs and networking with the various vendors and attendees… It’s a whole lot to keep tabs on, and he’s made this trip a great deal more enjoyable than last year.
I’ll leave you with this short video (3.66MB) of Lee Sedgwick flying his UFO on the trade show floor, shot and edited by Rob on short notice.
Again my friends… Good night, good flight!