Author: Cassie Gasaway
Alongside the unprecedented 2020 year, was an unprecedented event for ATA staff, members, and Board of Director members: ATA 2021 Online. The Jan. 11-15 event was the first virtual Show in the ATA’s 30 years of in-person Trade Shows.
During the five-day event, 1,151 ATA members signed into their MyATA member dashboard account. That number includes individuals from 543 retail shops. Those retailers sent 1,510 emails to exhibitors using the platform. Another 335 retail members didn’t log in during the Show, but they did receive the Exhibitor Show Special Guide by mail, meaning they could’ve contacted exhibitors by phone or email. The online Show also had 453 exhibitors, each with their own exhibitor profile. The profiles received a combined total of 24,650 booth clicks. Each booth click is equivalent to a booth visit at the in-person Show.
ATA staff and BOD members created ATA 2021 Online in about two months. Matt Kormann, ATA’s president/CEO, was glad the ATA could host a virtual event after COVID-19 made the team change course.
“The decision to cancel #ATA2021 in Indy was one of the most challenging in our history, but I’m incredibly proud of your ATA Board, staff, and members who helped us pivot quickly to create this first-ever online event,” Kormann said.
Maria Lewis, ATA’s senior director of Trade Show and membership, acknowledged and praised ATA members for their dedication and willingness to adapt to the requirements of a virtual Show.
“The type of engagement our members expect at a live Trade Show is extremely difficult to achieve in a virtual space,” she said. “ATA 2021 Online wasn’t designed to replace our live event; it was created to provide an alternative for our members. Our exhibitors worked incredibly hard to adjust their approach, create new content, revise their marketing mentality, and build an online booth profile for the first time. Many brands also created their own ads and social content to complement ATA 2021 Online content. Their efforts and support increased the Show value for everyone.”
ATA 2021 Online gave ATA members several ways to interact and engage online. In fact, Show-goers:
– celebrated ATA’s 2021 Impact Award recipients,
– took advantage of nearly 700 Show specials,
– attended numerous live and on-demand educational sessions,
– learned about the new industry-wide recruiting and mentoring effort,
– and had over 70 opportunities to win an exhibitor-donated product.
Kormann was most impressed by the attendance turnout for the educational events, including free live sessions, free on-demand sessions, and the all-new Archery Industry Masterclass.
Let’s look at the numbers. The MyATA Learning Center gained 600 new users (for a total of 799 users) and had 1,598 sign-ins over the five-day Show. Previously, only 199 members were using the MyATA Learning Center, which means the Show introduced 600 users to the ATA-member benefit platform. Additionally, the Masterclass content had 2,515 visits, and 427 individuals attended live education sessions.
Christi and Geremy Wilson thought each Masterclass course provided valuable information. Photo Credit: ATA
Christi and Geremy Wilson, co-owners of Cabot Archery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, attended every Masterclass session and found value in all of them. They appreciated the ability to ask questions and get real-time answers.
“As new retailers, we learned a lot from every course,” Christi Wilson said. “We really liked that the topics were organized by track/theme. For us, the business and marketing classes were most helpful. The ‘Paths to Profitability’ course was our favorite. Overall, we found the quantity and quality of information available to ATA members to be extremely valuable to us. The value for the investment in the Masterclass was exceptional.”
The Wilsons hope the Masterclass becomes an ATA Show standard. They plan to rewatch the courses to reinforce the topics. They liked that the course was available early so they could focus on the material before reviewing Show specials and placing orders. As such, they didn’t get a chance to watch the free courses offered Jan. 13-15, but intend to as they have time.
The free live course recordings won’t be available until spring. However, on-demand courses are available until Feb. 15. ATA members and nonmembers can also buy the Masterclass course to access the video recordings and watch the content anytime in 2021. There are 57 presentations available for viewing. Click here to register.
Another educational opportunity, ATA’s 2021 Virtual Media Summit, was well-attended by press. Six well-known media members shared practical how-to information and unveiled an industry-wide recruiting and mentoring effort. Click here for a Summit recap.
Carrie Zylka, hostess of the BowCast Podcast, was inspired by the Summit and liked the new recruiting effort.
“It’s nice seeing folks work towards a collaborative effort,” Zylka said. “Providing a unified front will show new hunters that you don’t have to have a TV show to get into (bowhunting) and be successful. I think it’s a great idea, and it definitely has my full support!”
Zylka said the virtual Show felt more inclusive to press. Still, she missed the ability to schedule on-the-spot interviews, collect information for her podcast, and meet new media representatives. Regardless, she didn’t view the challenges as deterrents.
“I’m working to create new episodes and YouTube clips from the content I was able to collect and view online,” She said. “It’s just a new world, and we as media have to adapt. The staff did a wonderful job creating a virtual space. The user interface was easy to navigate and despite the normal hiccups that come with a virtual event, ATA 2021 Online went off without a hitch for me.”
From the manufacturer side, Matt Petersen, vice president of operations for Radix Hunting, said attendee engagement for his company was light, but he viewed ATA 2021 Online as one large, diverse advertisement.
“We think the Show will provide us with a net gain of brand awareness and sales growth for 2021,” Petersen said. “It was a fun project being less physical and more digital, but we’d like to get back to the in-person Show so that we can have better connections and interactions with our dealers, customers and industry friends.”
Petersen and his team were grateful for the opportunity the Show provided.
“We want to thank the great people at the Archery Trade Association for putting this virtual Show together during one of the most chaotic years ever,” Petersen said. “Businesses like ours, especially small businesses, truly appreciate your unrivaled dedication and effort to make this virtual Show possible.”
Many members said the biggest challenge or learning curve to the virtual Show was technology. However, members communicated with ATA staff to work through navigation and connectivity issues or questions.
“We received a lot of valuable feedback throughout the week that helped us improve ATA 2021 Online in real time,” Kormann said. “Some suggestions gave us ideas on how to improve the 2022 Show in Louisville, as well as the hybrid online components, which will certainly be a part of future Shows.”
Lewis agreed. “We asked our retailers to make a big adjustment to their normal Trade Show routine and as such, we identified some pain points together,” Lewis said. “We definitely respected their willingness to engage online and try something new. Regardless, ATA retailers made it clear they missed the opportunity to meet face to face, touch and feel products, and pick up a printed catalog and price sheet. Although virtual components are probably here to stay, we look forward to delivering a live experience to all of our members again at ATA 2022.”
Lewis and Kormann hope each ATA member will complete the post-Show survey to help the ATA improve future Shows. ATA staff will send the short survey by email in the coming weeks.
“Thank you for your continued membership and support of your ATA,” Kormann said. “We’re hard at work – not just preparing for our return to an in-person event next year in Louisville. We remain committed to inspiring growth, increasing participation, and preserving the sports of archery and bowhunting. Your membership empowers those efforts – even when we can’t get together in person.”
The 2022 ATA Trade Show is in Louisville on Jan. 7-9, 2022. Please mark your calendars!
FYI: All ATA members will have access to ATA 2021 Online content, including exhibitor profiles, some educational content, the Show floorplan, and more, through 7 p.m. CST on Monday, Feb. 15. All Show Specials have been removed from exhibitor profiles at the conclusion of the Online Show. Please log into your MyATA member dashboard to access the Show information. Click here to learn more.
Questions? Contact the ATA business, membership and Trade Show office at (866) 266-2776, option 1 for assistance.