Ingram Micro New Zealand says it has no plans to move away from a physical Showcase trade event next year, following news that its Australian counterpart will offer a virtual vendor showcase to replace its Expotech in 2010, supported by targeted regional networking opportunities. Local managing director Gary Bigwood says the distributor received very positive feedback from vendors and resellers who attended the 2009 Showcase, with the only major request from resellers being new dates so the show doesn’t fall within the 2010 school holidays. “The turnout [this year] was within something like one percent of the previous year, which we were rapt about,” says Bigwood. Across the Tasman, Australian Reseller News reports Ingram will offer a web-based virtual expotech portal to provide vendors with a 3D online exhibition hall to display their latest products and interact with resellers. The virtual expotech will also provide webinars, video and audio content, online chat and product information, and is set to go live in March 2010. It would be hosted online for the rest of the year, according to the report. In addition to the portal, Ingram Australia would run 86 events next year, branded SMART (Success, Motivation, Achievement, Results and Technology), including golf days, technical demonstrations and sales training, mini-expos and partner reward trips. In the ARN report, the Australian business’ commercial and marketing director, John Walters, said the traditional trade show approach was in decline. “Expotech is a good event and has had good attendance, but the traditional tradeshow is slowing down and is on the back of the wave... We wanted to show distribution leadership and get on the front,” Walters was quoted as saying. According to the report, attendance figures were down 22 per cent year-on-year across the all the Expotech events, while vendor participation dropped by 18 per cent. By contrast, the 2009 New Zealand Showcase, the distributor’s 14th, attracted at least 50 exhibitors - the same number as two years ago and seven more than in 2006. Bigwood says he hasn’t been involved in the Australian business’ discussions about the new event format, but says locally the company has benefitted from consolidation. “The feedback from a lot of vendors was a lot of trade shows they’d participated in, in the past, weren’t happening,” says Bigwood. “There’s been a bit of consolidation and some of the smaller roadshows have been reduced. Because that’s been happening, overall if you put on a really good show and if we bring the 50 vendors again it’s really effective use of people’s time, so they come along.” Bigwood says the distributor plans to use the same venues next year – Auckland’s North Shore Events Centre and convention centres in Christchurch and Wellington – and will run the events between June and September.