Early indications for the 75th edition of SALTEX, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on 3 and 4 March 2021, are extremely positive following overwhelming industry support and the welcome news that exhibitions and events have been given the go ahead to restart from the start of October.
SALTEX has been serving the grounds management industry since 1938. Since then, the show has developed in stature and reputation and is now recognised as the industry’s showcase event creating opportunity for all who attend.
Geoff Webb, CEO of the Grounds Management Association, believes that the historic exhibition will be a huge first step towards the industry’s recovery.
“We believe that there comes a point where we lay the foundations for recovery and we of course want SALTEX in March to be a catalyst for this to showcase products, demonstrate the innovation this industry possesses, engage, network, renew acquaintances and generate new business for our exhibitors. In fact, we are making every provision to build assurance for a positive ‘return on investment’ for our exhibitors.”
As Geoff says, SALTEX is ‘the’ place to do business and the show’s independently audited year-on-year figures demonstrate the steady growth of SALTEX these past years.
At SALTEX 2019, the post-show survey revealed that 96 per cent of exhibitors generated new sales leads and 82 per cent took orders then and there on the show floor. The visitor survey further revealed that 79 per cent of SALTEX visitors had purchasing responsibility and 77 per cent had the ability to sign-off on amounts of more than £50,000. Therefore, it is no surprise, that SALTEX 2019 exhibitors are still reporting a high conversion rate from the leads they generated at last year’s show.
These figures have resulted in SALTEX 2021 witnessing a record-breaking loyalty period with over 75 per cent of exhibitors returning, including many stand upgrades and an influx of debut exhibitors.
The new Spring dates have not only been welcomed by exhibitors. A large proportion of visitors have voiced their support for the 2021 show with many claiming that they will be in the hunt for new products and services.
Take for example, Liverpool FC’s Senior Manager of Grounds Management – David Roberts, who revealed that he is looking forward to attending the show and will be exploring new solutions with his team.
“SALTEX provides an opportunity to see and meet manufacturers and to look at the products in the flesh. I always keep an open mind as to what we may need. As the show gets closer, we will be aware of specific problems we need to resolve and will then look for solutions at SALTEX.”
Lawn Care Legends – an online networking group consisting of over 5,000 landscapers and gardeners, are always out in full force at SALTEX, and founder John Ryan confirmed that the Legends will be attending the 2021 show.
“The Legends will be there, and we have some exciting plans for the show. SALTEX is a way to get a feel of what is coming to the marketplace and it helps you to adapt or evolve with the industry. We all use SALTEX as an opportunity to source new products and everyone is keen and eager to see what manufacturers have to offer.
“By March 2021, I think there will be a real energy to get going for the new season ahead and what better way to kick that off than by going to SALTEX.”
James Wright, Grounds & Gardens Team Leader at the University of Leeds, revealed that the new dates will be the perfect opportunity to purchase equipment in preparation for early maintenance programmes.
“Given the diverse range of exhibitors at SALTEX, myself and the team can see product innovations which may help inform purchasing decisions in the future.
“I believe the dates in March are an excellent time of year. You are able to look at products and potentially make purchases on products you could be using in 4/6 weeks’ time such as fertiliser or grass seed. The new dates also enable you to arrange machinery demonstrations during the active growing season.”
All eyes now turn towards delivering a successful event with the potential protocols that may be in place as a direct result of Covid-19. SALTEX is in the safest and most professional of hands according to Geoff.
“The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is one of the foremost venues in the UK and as such is at the heart of discussions as to how to run events safely and securely. The GMA has also taken advantage of its membership with the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO), who are closely working with the Events Owners Association (EOA), the Association of Event Venues (AEV), and the Event Suppliers and Services Association (ESSA) – which covers almost every facet of the events industry, looking at the impact of the pandemic globally, as well as the UK from an events management perspective. We’re very proud to have established these excellent working relationships and it has allowed us to learn from others, network, and input into the guidance now issued and being supported and used by Government.
“The events sector is holding some pilot exhibitions over the coming weeks to detail the best procedures to ensure exhibitions are the best possible environments for staff, exhibitors, and visitors alike. Learning from these pilots will be addressed. In the meantime, we are currently mapping out several scenarios based on restrictions that may be in place in Spring 2021, so the event runs safely and efficiently, while creating a positive experience for both visitors and exhibitors.
“We have a very experienced team, who with the NEC, I am confident can stage a safe and successful event in the Spring next year.”