Findings from the SALTEX 2019 post-show survey have revealed that attendees are continuing to embrace SALTEX as the groundscare industry’s flagship event.
From 30 to 31 October a record-breaking 9,104 visitors streamed into the NEC, Birmingham to explore the latest trends and products in groundscare.
The growth in visitor numbers at SALTEX 2019 was supported by a large proportion of first-time attendees. An encouraging 34 per cent visited SALTEX for the first time this year compared to 28 per cent in 2018, 27 per cent in 2017, 26 per cent in 2016 and 23 per cent in 2015.
The busy atmosphere in the exhibition halls was fantastic and a massive 93 per cent of survey respondents rated their overall show experience as being either very good or excellent.
SALTEX visitors came from far and wide as the show continues to attract a growing international audience. This year’s show saw attendees from 49 overseas markets, topping the previous record of 45 countries which was set at SALTEX 2016.
International visitor Frederico Galardini, who maintains the pitches at Federale di Coverciano – the central training ground and technical headquarters of the Italian Football Federation, visited the show to gain UK groundscare expertise.
“I think, no matter where you are in the world, it is important that you come to SALTEX because British groundscare is regarded as the best. In Italy the pitches are not at the same level as the pitches in the UK, but we are slowly getting there and this is why a trip to SALTEX can only be beneficial in helping us to improve,” he said.
The post-show survey also confirmed the high calibre of visitors, most of whom came from groundscare contracting companies, local authorities, dealerships, schools and universities, and sports clubs.
The buying power of SALTEX attendees was also high, with 36 per cent of survey respondents confirming that the purchasing responsibility was solely theirs, while 43 per cent contribute to the buying process and 32 per cent have the authority to sign-off on purchases up to £50,000.
Many exhibitors agree that SALTEX 2019 was the most financially beneficial yet and the 40 per cent of survey respondents that said they made purchases on the show floor is perhaps testament to this.
The Leicester City FC grounds team were certainly on the hunt for new equipment at SALTEX according to Callum Allsop, head groundsman at the club’s training ground. “We will be spending a lot of money on a new fleet of equipment over the next year. So being able to look at equipment options at SALTEX and having the opportunity to speak to all of the distributors in one place is ideal.”
The post-show survey findings also revealed top priorities for attending with 68 per cent saying they visited SALTEX to source new products/services/suppliers; 66 per cent attended out of general interest; 44 per cent wanted to see the latest industry innovations; 39 per cent attended to network with other like-minded individuals and 35 per cent to witness machinery demonstrations.
Andy Miller, head groundsman for Northampton Saints, says: “I always plan ahead on what I want to do and who I want to see at SALTEX, but plans often change when I’m on the show floor. I may bump into someone, get talking and gain new ideas.”
Product innovations were a big pull this year, and 87 per cent of attendees rated the mix of products on display as excellent. The show also offered visitors the opportunity to see a number of these products in action through Eco Village demonstrations and this new feature did not disappoint with 78 per cent of survey respondents also rating the Eco Village as excellent.
Products and innovations aside, SALTEX attendees also made use of the training, advice and educational opportunities. The 57 free-to-attend, CPD-accredited seminars in the Learning LIVE programme proved popular with 84 per cent of survey respondents claiming the education offering was either very good or excellent; 83 per cent made the most of the Ask the Expert feature and 77 per cent said the Pathology and Soil Science LIVE was also an excellent feature.
SALTEX will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020 and will take place at the NEC, Birmingham on 4 and 5 November and 95 per cent of SALTEX 2019 visitors concluded the survey by indicating that they will be returning.
James Wright, grounds & gardens team leader at the University of Leeds, believes that the success of SALTEX indicates a bright future for the industry. “This year was the best SALTEX I have experienced to date and its popularity proves that we are in a great place to take the industry we are all so passionate about into the next decade and beyond.”