By Cam Wood
Two years ago, Canadian Vending
Magazine ran an editorial that was critical of the Canadian Automatic
Merchandising Association’s annual trade show.
Two years ago, Canadian Vending Magazine ran an editorial that was critical of the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association’s annual trade show. Held in downtown Toronto, the show, frankly, was a bust. And when vending operators from the area told the magazine they had no intention of attending, we knew something was seriously wrong.
Only 43 booths were occupied (not 43 exhibitors – just booths) and a generous count of a couple hundred attendees came through the doors.
Obviously, it was a tough defeat to acknowledge for the committee and association.
At the time, we called for change. Something was needed to bring new breath to the Ontario-based show and attract more attendees. Suggestions were made, fingers were pointed and the gauntlet cast.
Well damn if Lorna Garratt and her committee haven’t served up a tasty treat of crow for this editor.
The tide started to turn last February in Montreal. Our French-Canadian friends put together a heck of an expo that left quite a few people feeling invigorated. In traditional French-Canadian fashion, they made everyone feel welcome; and while we’re not going to say things were miles ahead of the previous year’s expo, the intimate moments – the coziness of the show floor, the hospitality suites, the cocktail reception – provided ample opportunity to network.
Oh sure, there’s always a few naysayers in the crowd, those who seek to find negativity in the brightest of moments, but the Montreal event pushed the CAMA Expo back into forward gear.
Now, with Niagara Falls looming in just a few short weeks, it’s becoming obvious that a change in venue, format and attitude has made more than a few take notice. As of deadline, over 60 booths had been sold – with several first-time exhibitors signing on.
The committee has also developed a few new perspectives to reach out to the operator. An enhanced education program – which Canadian Vending is proud to present – will provide attendees with the chance to learn about the Healthy Food and Beverage in Canadian Schools Education and Certificate Program, succession planning, and the new $5 bill’s impact on our industry.
Also new for the 2006 Expo are the What’s The Buzz? sessions.
These mini informational presentations will take place on the show floor on both days so that attendees won’t have to leave the exhibition hall to grab a seat and learn something new.
Then, of course, is the venue itself: Niagara Falls. With a brand new casino and entertainment complex, the city has become a world-class vacation getaway. A short walk from the host hotel is Clifton Hill, an amusement mecca for the pint-sized set.
With such dramatic change occurring in our industry and in consumer tastes, this is one CAMA Expo not to be missed. Sure, you’ve heard it before; but if I can eat a little leftover crow from 2004, you can take a gamble on Niagara in 2006.
And if I’m lying to you this time, come and see me at the Canadian Vending booth. I’ll give you a token for the slots and you can try your luck there … after the show.