‘Welcome to the Future’ is the motto of the next Scala Playhouse Fair – which will take place on September 4 and 5 – and it is a fitting one, considering that Scala and their suppliers will present numerous new product that are going to play a big role in the immediate future of the market. Scala’s Marketing Manager, Sabine Kirchner, provided us with an overview of all the products and treats the visitors can expect in the showroom in Almere at the beginning of September.
Your spring Scala Fair ended up being the most successful event in the company’s history. How hard will it be to repeat that massive success at the upcoming show?
Sabine Kirchner: We were thrilled with the big turn-out for our March Scala Fair, where the showroom was packed with excited customers, suppliers, and our own experienced Scala Playhouse sales team. Our aim for the September Scala Fair is to even take it a step further and top the number of visitors we had during our last event. Each edition is getting bigger, better, and busier and we are confident that ‘Welcome to the Future’ will once again break records.
The basic elements of the Scala Fairs are always the same. So why did the show this March draw much more visitors than the show of March 2015? Is that just a result of the overall situation in the market, or are there other, subtler factors that also play a role?
We’ve noticed a slight shift in visitor numbers from our September fair to our March fair. In the past, our September fair used to be the busier event of the two, while in the past two years, our March fairs attracted bigger numbers. The shift can be contributed to the fact that Scala Playhouse is the first to showcase the latest releases in Europe at the start of the year, while the other big trade shows follow later in the year, for example ETO show in June.
The Scala Fair in March is the first opportunity for many customers to see the new releases of the year and come face-to-face with the latest collections. Therefore, the bump in visitor numbers can be explained with the saying ‘The early bird catches the worm’; the earlier in the year retailers can see the new stock, the larger the advantage on their competition is. Nevertheless, the September fair will be filled with release for the second half year, as a Scala Fair wouldn’t be complete without various must-have releases on show.
And since we’re talking about the elements of your Scala Fair – will you stick with the basic concept at the upcoming event, or will there be changes?
Yes, for the upcoming September fair we are using the same successful basic concept as we’ve had the previous few editions. After each Scala Fair, we always take the time to evaluate the event, taking into account the feedback we received from our visitors. Our current concept has gathered a lot of praise, receiving a positive response from the audience; so why change a winning formula?
What can we expect from your suppliers come September? Can you maybe give us a few little details about any new products?
Our suppliers and brand representatives will once again be present to introduce their latest products and collections to the Scala Fair audience. This is your ultimate chance to get advice, tips, and tricks about the brands and their products; allowing you to get useful and relevant information that will help boost your sales right from the source.
Your events also provide an important platform for your trade partners and suppliers to get together and communicate. How’s the general feedback from the visitors of Scala Fairs?
The general feedback is very positive. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the current Sunday and Monday scheduling of the Scala Fair which our retail customers find very convenient. One of the highlights of the Scala Fair, and a favourite amongst our visitors isthe Cash & Carry. Retailers love good deals and the Cash & Carry offers them just that: amazing deals on great products. We’ve also heard from our visitors that they really enjoy the different themes of each Scala Fair, as it adds a new and exciting element to their visit.
This makes us even more determined to think creatively and transform our showroom into a world of surprise and satisfaction. By organising fantastic prize-competitions, ranging from a scavenger hunt to lotteries, we encourage visitors to join in on the fun and score themselves some great rewards in a playful way. It boosts the atmosphere and creates a buzz; which is what makes the Scala Fair so enjoyable. We try to make every edition a celebration and our customers are the guests of honour!
“Our aim for the September Scala Fair is to even take it a step further and top the number of visitors we had during our last event.”
Scala’s range of first-party brands keeps on growing – what will you have in store for the visitors in September on that front?
In September, we’ll be presenting two new TOYJOY brand extensions, plus various new products in our existing lines. We can’t reveal all the details yet, but I can tell you the names of our new TOYJOY lines: ‘LADOU’ and ‘LIL’ BERRIES’. We are confident visitors are going to love the new collections and the sleek pleasure providers in these lines. We can also announce that Get Real by TOYJOY – our brand of realistic toys – is getting bigger, with three distinct product groups to satisfy different target audiences within the market segment for realistics. This means the collection will cater to even more ‘natural’ pleasure lovers and we are sure the new designs will be a big hit amongst consumers.
Will you also offer product training and POS materials?
Of course! Our third-party suppliers will be hosting special mini-workshops for product training, which are open to all visitors to attend. Plus, customers can also find information about all the latest POS-options in our monthly POS-brochure. There, all the new POS-materials are listed, along with photos and ordering information. A selection of these POS-items will be presented during the upcoming ‘Welcome to the Future’ Scala Fair, but we also encourage all customers to download the monthly updated POS-brochure from the download section of our website after customer log-in.
The Scala team always take great care of their visitors, offering great hospitality and making sure everybody is well entertained. How will you indulge your visitors this time around?
We’ve got some very special things planned regarding the hospitality and entertainment, but I can’t reveal any details yet because we want the Scala Fair to have an element of surprise. But as you might guess, with a theme like ‘Welcome to the Future’, visitors can definitely expect some futuristic treats…
Of course, Scala Fairs are also famous for their special event discounts and the Cash & Carry. Will there be lots of special offers this year?
Yes, there will be! For each edition of the Cash & Carry, our team sits down and figures out how we can give our Scala Fair visitors the most amazing deals possible. We want to entice visitors to stock up on great products at an incredible price; so you can definitely expect some offers that are simply too good to refuse.
Will there be a special theme at the upcoming show? If so, how will that change the complexion of the event?
Each Scala Fair has its own unique theme. For the upcoming September edition, the theme is ‘Welcome to the Future’. The theme will be reflected in all aspects of the Scala Fair, ranging from the drinks and snacks to our entertainment and prize-competitions. Having a theme is really fun as it allows us to get creative and think outside the box, plus, it means that for our visitors, each fair is unique.
Have you noticed any tendencies as far as visitor turnout at the two annual shows is concerned? Do Scala’s customers prefer the spring event or do they show up in greater force in late summer/fall?
As we’ve stated earlier in this interview: There is a slight shift in visitors’ numbers from the September fair to the March fair. Our March fairs in 2015 and 2016 brought a record number of visitors to our Almere-based showroom, but that doesn’t mean our upcoming September fair will be any less busy. Our aim is to increase our visitor number with each edition of the fair, regardless of the season, so we have high hopes for a busy showroom during our ‘Welcome to the Future’ Scala Fair on the 4th and 5th of September.
More than once, experts have said that in-house trade shows are dead, but your Scala Fair proves otherwise. Why does Scala feel that such an event is still timely in today’s market and why have many other wholesalers stopped doing in-house shows?
We’re very fortunate that the Scala Fair is still a very successful, well-attended event in the current market. It’s a combination of factors: First of all, we have a beautiful, very large showroom that lends itself perfectly to an in-house trade show. We have enough space to hosts all our brands, brand representatives, entertainment, hospitality, Cash & Carry, plus many visitors. It allows us to turn the Scala Fair from a standard trade show into something very special.
Our location in Almere also helps, as we’re right in the centre of the Netherlands and have a great connection to Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport. This means our international visitors and suppliers can reach our showroom quickly and easily; making a visit to the Scala Fair both profitable and comfortable. Another pro for the Scala Fair is that we have such an impressive assortment, meaning we can be a one-stop-shop for our customers, offering them everything they need to fill a store or web shop. This makes a visit to the Scala Fair rewarding for retailers – during one visit, our Sales team can help you set-up a complete assortment.
All these factors contribute to the Scala Fair being alive and kicking, while other in-house tradeshows have fizzled out. There is no magic formula; at least, we don’t think so. But if there is, we think the key ingredients are probably listening to your customers, thinking outside the box, adding playful elements, having the best offer, and welcoming visitors with a big smile!