“The goal of a stamp show is to meet the needs of a diverse constituency.”
That quote served as the basis for discussion at the recent “Summit on the Future of Philately” spearheaded by the American Philatelic Society (APS). In reviewing the report that came out of the summit, I’m happy to discover the participants deservingly gave a lot of attention to the topic: The future of stamp shows and dealers – How are we doing planning shows?
The discussion certainly reveals America’s leading philatelists are not giving up on local and national stamp shows, even though some in the hobby feel the events are being crushed by online auctions and consumer-to-consumer e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon. They identified the need to “rebrand shows to something that may attract new collectors.”
The leaders suggested, for example, there are image issues with show names that end in “-pex.”
Is “-pex” really relevant to current shows anymore, especially if new collectors have no idea what it really means?
It should come as no surprise their focus on “the user experience” created an engaging discussion among the participants as summarized in the report: “Shows must meet the needs of ‘targeted’ markets. Do we know how visitors perceive their experience at a show? Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression. First-time visitors need to feel welcome, comfortable, and knowledgeable. Social opportunities for both members and non-members need to promote mingling, networking, camaraderie, and making friends. Such sessions need to become an integral part of shows.”
As the discussions continued, the participants suggested show organizers create “partnerships” with other organizations to reach new audiences. “One suggestion is to invite topical clubs (cars, orchids, etc.) and have dealers bring in related topical material targeted at their interests.”
They also acknowledged strong shows are the direct result “of the leadership exhibited by the show committee and individual efforts of volunteers.” It is important, they concluded, strong volunteers are recruited and they are provided with training, support and always feel appreciated.
I realize the summary provided by the APS on its Website doesn’t capture the full discussion and passion felt at the summit. However, I felt – based on the summary – the dealer’s voice was missed in the discussion.
As the summary states: “Dynamics of stamp shows have changed for dealers, mainly due to the Internet. Show attendance is not necessary to earn a living. Dealers are profit motivated; shows depend on dealer fees to pay for show expenses. Show attendance requires dealers to move hundreds of pounds of material, incur costs of travel & lodging, and spend a large block of time setting up and tearing down. There needs to be a reason for dealers to attend; customer traffic and money spent.”
Bottom line: dealers need buyers and it’s up to show organizers to deliver the collectors.
I certainly understand the huge benefits of online sales. I also believe shows are imperative in creating the “social opportunities” needed to enhance and grow the hobby. Inserted inside this issue of Canadian Stamp News is a copy of our inaugural edition of The Canadian Coin & Stamp Show Planner 2017. Check out the Jeff Fournier’s article on pages 8 and 9: “11 great reasons why you should attend a coin or stamp show.”
I believe the 11 reasons support “the needs of a diverse constituency.”
I welcome your suggestions for improving and growing stamp shows at firstname.lastname@example.org.