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Tills will ring at new-look PICA show

July 25, 2011: The Photo Imaging Council of Australia has announced that next year’s exhibition of imaging and home entertainment equipment and services will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition, May 25 – 27, with no restrictions on selling from the exhibition floor.

In addition the PMA convention, which has traditionally been run in tandem with the exhibition, will now be run for one day only prior to the show, possibly on the Thursday before the Friday show opening.

Under the new exhibition arrangements, stated the PICA press release, ‘ If the brand owners wish to have retailers on their space they can, if they wish to sell product they can.

‘But no others can display the brand without the brand owner’s approval.’

(Edge Events and Exhibitions, an event organiser independent of PICA, earlier this month announced a new consumer show with sales from the exhibition floor , as reported last week in Photo Counter. It would be reasonable to assume that PICA’s re-configuration of the industry-organised show is partially a response to this initiative. – Ed)

The PICA press release further stated that, ‘The official Australian distributor or manufacturer of a key brand will have the final say on how their brand is presented and handled at the show. All previous restrictions on stand activities will be swept aside.

‘ PICA aims to create special zones for exhibitors where they will have total control of their brand destiny. The exhibit may be used for lectures, galleries and equipment display. The objective is to create an area where followers and fans of a particular brand can gather, learn, touch and feel – aspects which are particularly necessary in these days of internet-reliant product information sourcing.’

The announcement comes just over a week after another PICA press release announcing that it had re-assumed management and full financial control of the exhibition following several years in which PMA and PICA partnered in the event.

‘Under the new agreement we have been able to offer PMA the opportunity to continue its educational side of the program, but the show itself will now be steered by the senior members of the larger exhibitors. It is a win-win situation for both parties; and that’s why the agreement was reached. It is that simple,’ said PICA president, Dave Marshall.

Mr Marshall said that any profits from the show will be returned to the imaging and home entertainment industry in Australia ‘to aid in future consumer and trade education programs’.

Gross profits for the show has easily surpassed $1 million in good years, according to industry sources. PICA executive director Paul Curtis said that recent show revenue had ‘funded everything from gallery displays [at the annual show] to funding the GST lobbying program.’

‘Optional’ trade only area

In other changes, the PICA press release stated: ‘professional and trade exhibitors will find areas of increased flexibility, which together with a change in stand activity restrictions and an optional trade-only area, will offer increased business opportunities.’

PICA said it was necessary to make these changes to ‘ensure that the continuing viability of the show remained feasible.’

‘This show is for exhibitors who want to meet and grow their product fan base. We will not be accepting any stand bookings from retailers in any countries,’ said Mr Marshall.

‘We will be creating a new expo team to work with the senior company managers to organise the event. A general manager will be appointed in a few months.

‘In the meantime, Paul Curtis will handle the transition arrangements and has committed to act in a background advisory capacity for the next three years,’ said Mr Marshall.

Mr Curtis told Photo Counter that the general manager’s position will be advertised and the appointment will be made by the PICA board.

The judging of the Australian Professional Photographer of the Year and conferences for professionals, retailers and consumers will also take place at the Melbourne show.

Convention before the exhibition

PMA director, Australian activities, Peter Rose was positive about the new arrangements:

‘We all look forward to the new arrangements delivering a wider interest show, which will benefit all in the industry,’ he said.

‘The PMA convention will be revamped to run prior to the Expo and will have streams for Photo retailers,School Photographers, Photo educators and topics to appeal to CE. We are also looking at Prosumers and how best to include them in education sessions.’

He said that PMA would be looking to quality rather than quantity in putting together the program for 2012, noting that over the past few years there has been a significant falling away of attendance at convention sessions after the exhibition opened.

The ‘new’ PMA Australia

Commenting on PMA’s recent history with the annual event, and its immediate future as an industry association, Mr Rose said: ‘Since 2007, when PMA took over running the annual expo, a tremendous amount of time and energy went into building the event up again. He noted that show attendance was down to 10,000 and it was ‘in danger of collapsing’.

‘During this period we were able (in conjunction with PICA ) to return a healthy seven figure amount to the retailer, wholesaler and pro associations .

‘Now that we are back to running the convention alone, we can concentrate on PMA member benefits and business building activities, as well as a business plan that will provide future income for your association.

‘For over 25 years (except the last 5) PMA USA has provided significant annual funding to subsidise the Australian office.That is unlikely to be reintroduced, so between John Bourne and I, we will be developing this business plan with the help of PMA State committees.’

Edge: Photo and Digital Expo still on

Graeme Ayerst, principal of Edge Exhibitions and Events, made the following statement in response to the PICA announcement:

‘Exhibitions are one of the most powerful marketing tools for an Industry to reach its target market. Hence it seems strange that PICA ‘reclaimed’ the Imaging and Entertainment Expo from the very body set up to oversee marketing within the photographic industry – the Photo Marketing Association.

‘Their claim that the PMA is still to organise the ‘Educational’ aspects seems nothing more than a palliative gesture. Putting on an Exhibition is an Industry in itself. It requires painstaking organisation and absurd attention to detail. It requires ensuring that exhibitors have everything they need to ensure they put on their best show, and ensuring a great experience and value for money for visitors.

‘Surely it is advantageous to all players to get a company dedicated to this very business to put on the event? Why do the Associations want to take this on? How can there not be partisan issues when politics are clearly at play? To whose advantage is this? Certainly not the many exhibitors (many of whom are small independents and not major Industry players or brands), Nor the visitor, who has no vested interest other than to have an amazing experience, learn something new and perhaps buy something special.

‘We are certainly not reassessing whether to do the Photo and Digital Expo 2012. We are more determined than ever. We believe we are on the right track – reflected in that it seems strangely coincidental that every time we articulate what we intend to do in the media, PICA shortly thereafter comes out with releases that appear similar in intent.

‘This is what we do. We organize events. We are going to organise one for the photographic and consumer electronics Industry. Fortunately we do not need to attempt reviving a lame duck. This latest release is an unsubtle rehash of wording published by the media in previous articles supplied by Edge. Photo & Digital Expo needs no reviving; it is a pragmatic business model that is a proven success.’

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