View from the OIA

Sometimes, organisations like the OIA may sound like a stuck record when we push the ‘collaboration’ message.  However, we do it for very good reasons and recent weeks have thrown up some excellent examples of how working together on shared objectives can benefit everyone in the industry.  Look at trade shows.  Both here in the UK and in Europe, we have just witnessed shows that have challenged the perceived wisdom that such events have a declining relevance and bleak future.

Bringing the UK sector together under one roof at OTS in Manchester has proved to be the right decision.  While the OIA may have been advocating such a move for some time, this couldn’t have been achieved without the active support of the teams behind KORS and ROKS, and of course the growing list of exhibitors.  Furthermore, those exhibitors made sure that they showcased products and services worth seeing, and enthusiastically marketed this, which in turn attracted key buyers and a great turnout of media.  Visitor numbers at OTS were up for a second year in a row and, crucially, there was a jump of 27% in attendance by retail buyers and owners.  Success breeds success and we are confident that what is now a vibrant show, in the right location and at the right time of year, can continue to flourish.

OTS followed hot on the heels of the eagerly anticipated debut of OutDoor by ISPO, which itself is the product of collaboration on so many levels.  First, together, EOG members had agreed a vision for the long-term future of OutDoor.  Second, they had completed a long, robust and exhaustive process to choose Messe Munich as the partner for the show, concluding with a truly democratic and decisive vote.  Third, along with the messe team, the EOG founded an advisory board with representatives from across the industry, to help shape the show concept into a deliverable and sustainable platform (our CEO Andrew Denton was an active participant in that group).  And fourth, the industry embraced this new type of show and way of exhibiting, leading to a very successful debut that attracted over 1,000 exhibitors and 22,000 visitors.

Meanwhile, back here in the UK, we have been collaborating on an exciting project called Adventures 4 Health with Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party, and London Marathon Events, Sport & Recreation Alliance, British Canoeing, British Cycling and the British Mountaineering Council.  Andrew has been leading on behalf of the OIA, accompanying Tom and the initiative’s other partners on a series of climbing, canoeing, cycling and swimming challenges designed to inspire more people to get active for better health.  Tom himself has already lost seven stone and reversed a type 2 diabetes diagnosis by making big changes in his own life.  Adventures 4 Health will hopefully encourage others to reassess their own lifestyles.  By working together on the project, all of the organisations involved are also able to collectively reach a much bigger overall audience, another major benefit of collaboration.

Of course, ours is a business sector and therefore many OIA members are (quite rightly) fierce competitors.  However, the examples above are just three (and there are many more!) that clearly demonstrate how working closely together when appropriate can help grow and sustain our sector for the benefit of all.  That’s also reflected in the make-up of both the OIA Board and the OIA Development Board, and in the open discussions that take place during meetings and subsequent actions that everyone involved takes.

So, we make absolutely no apology for continuing to bang the collaboration drum, because, working together…works.  We encourage all OIA members to play a full and active role in any of our many projects, which we undertake on their behalf.  Please get in touch to find out how you can get more involved –, 0161 498 6159, and @OIA_UK on Twitter.

The OIA Team