Geoff Webb, CEO of The Grounds Management Association (GMA), the event organisers of SALTEX speaks with The Landscaper
Who within the industry sector is SALTEX primarily setting to attract from both a visitor and exhibitor stance?
SALTEX is key for visitors and exhibitors alike who are passionate about keeping green spaces and playing surfaces safe, accessible, and sustainable.
It attracts over 8000 visitors from 50+ countries from an extensive range of sectors covering the entire grounds care industry. Visitors range from volunteer level through to the professional elite.
As far as exhibitors are concerned, they too cover a wide range. Any company or organisation that wants to get its products and messaging across to the whole groundscare industry can use SALTEX to connect with this diverse and valuable audience. We are constantly looking to attract exhibitors that are leading the way in providing innovative and sustainable solutions for the benefit of our visitors
What is your USP compared to other trade shows within industry?
SALTEX is the leading grounds care event in Europe that is centrally located within the UK. One of its USPs is that it is run by a not-for-profit organisation – The Grounds Management Association. It is committed to serving the groundscare industry and developing a strong and effective sector and is not run for commercial gain.
SALTEX helps the Grounds Management Association engage, inspire, and encourage new recruits, create partnerships with sports bodies and professional leagues, and lobby and advocate on the industry’s behalf. Be that rates of pay, mental health, sustainability and the environment or raising the sector’s profile through projects such as ‘Schools into Stadiums’ or ‘GroundsWeek’.
One further USP is its longevity – it is in its 77th year but over that time it has never stood still and constantly evolved to ensure it is relevant to today’s exhibitors and visitors.
How has your trade show changed over the years?
One of the reasons for SALTEX’s success and longevity is the fact it has evolved and adapted over the seven-plus decades it has been running. Exhibitions, by their very nature, have cycles and continually must focus on the delivery of the event but always look to the future as well.
The biggest change has been moving the exhibition from a racecourse in Windsor to the NEC in Birmingham, due to the sheer size that the exhibition has grown to. The move allowed SALTEX to be more accessible for numerous reasons, most especially the central UK location and ensured the show did not have to rely on the unpredictable British weather.
Is there anything new for visitors to the show this year (2023) to look forward to?
There are several exciting new ideas currently being discussed for this year’s show. We have listened to, and acted upon, the comprehensive feedback and independent audits we carry out to ensure that SALTEX 2023 is the biggest and best show to date. One area we are concentrating on is ensure there are more eco-friendly, sustainable products and machinery at SALTEX.
For exhibitors a trade show enables them to network, capture leads and generate sales – what is it that you think visitors are looking for when they visit such exhibitions and are trade shows in general delivering on this?
We know through our visitor research that we conduct after each show, that visitors want to see the newest products on the market, and we work hard throughout the year to ensure that the latest technology and the biggest names attend the event.
In addition to the exhibition, visitors are attracted to SALTEX to attend sessions in our extensive Learning Live programme which enables networking with peers from the industry.
What could be done better to engage and encourage visitors to get the best out of visiting a trade show, especially those who are new the industry?
With an event of the scale of SALTEX we recommend visitors maximise their time by making the most of the digital planning tools available on our website, saltex.org.uk, pre-show. This allows them to identify exhibitors they wish to meet and sessions they must attend ensuring they don’t miss out. This is an area we will continue to invest in and further improve to aid visitors in getting the most out of the show.