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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Show attendance is up, but compared to what?


After attendance lagged, understandably, at last year's GCSAA Conference and Show, this year's event promised to show an improvement.

Once exact with its figures, GCSAA reports statistics such as attendance, number of vendors, rented booth space and education seats in round numbers like about 11,000 people attending this year's show in Orlando. That is an increase of about 69 percent when compared with the roughly 6,500 people who were in San Diego in 2022, which is a bit misleading considering California was still under masking requirements and air travel was plagued with rampant delays and cancellations. 

Comparing this year's show with the 2022 conference is hardly a fair comparison given the reality of the times from 2020-22. 

Many superintendents elected to skip the show last year, either because of Covid protocols or potential travel challenges associated with said protocols.

Measuring this year's show against last year's is not quite an apples-to-oranges comparison, but is more like comparing a bushel of apples to a bag.

What is clear is that although show attendance was up compared with last year when fewer people were traveling, most metrics are still down compared with pre-pandemic levels.

In a more accurate comparison, attendance this year was down about 6 percent compared with the pre-pandemic 2020 show in Orlando, which attracted about 11,700, and 8 percent compared with the 2019 show in San Diego.

About 450 vendors exhibited at the show this year, representing approximately a 50 percent jump from 2022, but a 10 percent drop from the more than 500 companies that showed in 2020 in Orlando and in 2019 in San Diego.

One area on the increase are education seats sold at the show. About 6,300 seminar seats were filled this year, which was up 70 percent over 2021, 15 percent over 2020 and was the highest number since 2008.

You might remember 2008. That was the year that 25,737 attendees and almost 1,000 vendors showed up in Central Florida for the mega show that in those days included the golf course owners and club managers associations.

Since we're comparing apples and oranges.

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