This year’s DEMA Show in New Orleans was the “best attended” one since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Tom Ingram, president and CEO of the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association.
“We’re actually up about 20 percent, 22 percent overall,” Ingram said in his annual chat with DeeperBlue.com during the show. “Thirty-three percent up on registered buyers, which is that very onerous process to become labeled as a buyer. So you can pre-qualify it, you can get in and those are the folks that we want to concentrate on.”
This year’s show was about 23 percent up in exhibit space as well compared to last year, Ingram added:
“So the show’s on its way back. Not quite as large as we were in 2018, 2019, but we’re making our way. So, this is the best attended and best, largest show that we’ve had since the pandemic.”
Ingram called last year’s show in Orlando a “building year.” For this year, he said:
“I think we’re still building, but my opinion is that we’re on the verge of being able to trip it over and get back to where we were. So, we’re still, I guess, somewhat in a building year.
“I think everybody is very happy with the way the show has been configured. Both the size of it as it’s come back, plus we’re in New Orleans. Come on. For the first time since 2001, we’re in New Orleans and this is what the members asked for. They wanted to come back to New Orleans. We tried in 2020 and that didn’t work out for us, but the folks in New Orleans were kind enough to help us work it all out.”
Consequently, the location rotation for future DEMA Shows is fixed pretty much through the end of the decade, Ingram said, between Las Vegas next year, Orlando in 2025, New Orleans in 2026, Las Vegas in 2027, Orlando in 2028 and New Orleans in 2029.
“And the folks at New Orleans have been really helpful and cooperative. There’s always a glitch at every show, but every time we see something like that, these folks have stepped up to the plate and helped us out, so it’s all been good.”
As for next year in Las Vegas, exhibit space sales are “really good,” Ingram said, even when factoring in the Grand Prix race that’s scheduled to overlap DEMA Show by a day.
“As of last night, we’ve actually been notified that Las Vegas has downgraded their projections for the Grand Prix, thinking that it’s not going to be as big and they’ve already dropped the price of their tickets trying to get more folks to come in.
“And most importantly is we’ve been contacted by some of the other hotels, the Renaissance right there next to the Westgate. And they’ve offered us another block of rooms at a very reasonable rate. So we’re gonna take advantage of those and make sure that they’re there.”
The one thing that Ingram suggests would be for DEMA Show attendees to make sure that they book their flights as early as they can, and reserve their hotel blocks when those open up in the late March timeframe.
“So go ahead and get into the block as quickly as you can and take advantage of those low rates.”