International Pool, Spa And Patio Expo Is Huge Success In Las Vegas!
November 13, 2015
The 2015 Pool, Spa And Patio Expo was held this week in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The Expo was at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Convention Center. The annual trade show exhibit hall was open Tuesday November 10 through Thursday November 12, 2015. Numerous educational classes and programs were also held at various locations throughout the week.
Thousands of attendees from the swimming pool, hot tub and backyard industry were there to check out all the new 2016 products offered by literally hundreds of manufacturers engulfing the entire Convention Center floor.
The mood of the show was very upbeat, with most exhibitors and attendees reporting that 2015 had been their best year since the Recession.
“This was the first Pool & Spa Expo that I have been to since 2008 where most people were walking around with smiles on their faces” said one New York Hot Tub dealer. He continued “2015 was one of our best years for Hot Tub sales and service ever!”
One Pool & Spa Retailer from Dallas Texas noted that “Although 2015 was better for us, we are still not back to Pre-Recession sales levels. But we absolutely have seen a big up-tick in hot tub sales, and also with our patio furniture sales. That is very, very promising.”
Hot Tub Sales Soar
With most Hot Tub Manufacturers & Dealers reporting double digit sales gains in 2015, it is not hard to see why everyone was so happy.
One Hot Tub Manufacturer’s Rep. said “We are absolutely thrilled with the way Hot Tub sales have bounced back in 2015. This show has been great for us. We picked up a few new dealers, and were able to show off our new prototype models for 2016. Overall, this show was a terrific experience for us, compared to the past 5 or 6 years. We are very happy.”
Swimming Pool Sales Steady
Although Swimming Pool sales have not been as robust as many would have hoped, they are moving in an upward direction.
One fiberglass Pool Manufacturer reported that “Our sales were certainly up in 2015, but we still have a long way to go to get back to Pre-Recession levels. Honestly, I don’t know if we’ll ever see business that busy again, but we are happy with the way things are going, and look forward to achieving more sales gains in 2016.”
A vinyl and polymer Pool Manufacturer said “I am generally pleased with the number of Pool Guys I have spoken to at the show this year. We have gotten a great deal of positive feedback showing our new product lines, and have signed up quite a few new dealers as a result of this show. There seems to be the kind of excitement and happiness to their mood that I remember from the boom years of 2002-2008. I think things will really open up for the Inground Pool builders in 2016, provided that everything stays on track with the housing market and the economy” he added.
Backyard Products Are Very Popular
One of the notable things about this year’s Expo was the large amount of floor space devoted to backyard, BBQ and patio products.
Almost 25% of the entire show floor was dedicated to everything in the backyard/patio industry.
An outdoor kitchen/backyard retailer from Florida said “I am very pleased to see this large amount of exhibitors solely displaying outdoor kitchens, fire pits, gazebos, backyard lighting and outdoor furniture”.
He continues that “We placed quite a few orders for new products right here on the show floor. We are looking forward to expanding the number and kind of products we have for sale at all our Florida locations.”
Swim Spas Come Of Age
Swim Spas were also very prevalent at this year’s Expo. A longtime Hot Tub dealer from Los Angeles noted that “A few years ago we started to see Swim Spas at these shows, and quite frankly, didn’t think they would catch on. But seeing this many Manufacturers now offering Swim Spas has made us think twice. I really think these things are going to become quite popular.”
He said “At our three stores in the L.A. area, we honestly have not had a lot of requests for Swim Spas yet. But I am pretty sure we will be hooking up with one of these Swim Spa guys here at the show and getting at least one to display in each of our stores.”
However another Hot Tub dealer from Arizona reports that Swim Spa sales have been going very well for them for a while. He said “In my opinion, Swim Spas are definitely going to become a major product in our industry. They fill the void between Hot Tubs and Swimming Pools. Of course the demand for Swim Spas probably varies greatly depending on the climates of the various parts of the country, but for areas like ours, they certainly fill a need. Consumers are very intrigued the first time they see a Swim Spa in our store. They just take a little more explaining, you know, to justify the cost.”
Some Not So Happy With Swim Spas
While all that may sound great, some Swimming Pool Dealers seemed a bit afraid of the rise, albeit a slow one, of the Swim Spa in this industry.
One Dealer from South Carolina had some strong opinions about Swim Spas. “You know, the Swimming Pool business was really decimated during the Recession, and most of us long-time Pool Guys are still just hanging on by a thread. The above ground pool business has been so strongly hit, that you don’t see one above ground manufacturer here at the show at all. So the fact that the Pool segment of our industry is being gnawed away at by these Swim Spas is not particularly helpful to guys like me.”
But there are two sides to that coin regarding the market penetration of Swim Spas.
A long time Pool Builder from New York said “Hey, we threw a Swim Spa into one of our stores this year, and actually sold a few. Not a lot, but a few. As a luxury, high-end pool builder, we really do not see Swim Spas as a threat.”
He added that “Most of our salespeople are familiar with Swim Spas, but will only try to push them on people if they can see that an inground pool is out of their budget. So in that respect, it kind of fills a hole for us (that) the above ground pools used to fill.”
Pool & Spa Accessories Are A Big Hit
This year there were many more Exhibitors displaying accessories for Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs as well.
There were many new kinds of Pool & Hot Tub covers, lighting, waterfalls, cover lifters – and many new types of Pool & Spa chemicals, spa steps, backyard umbrellas, alternative sanitizers, water testers and the like.
“As a Pool & Spa Dealer for over 20 years, I really appreciated the fact that there were so many new add-on’s available at this show.” says one Dealer from Utah. He echoed the same sentiments of many of the Pool & Spa store owners at the Expo. It seems like many brick and mortar store owners, as well as a lot of Internet retailers, were extremely interested in all of the new aftermarket items that were on display at this year’s IPSPE show.
“Over the past few years since the Recession began, I guess a lot of the companies did not want to take on the risk of stocking up on accessories and add-on’s for their stores. We always took a different tactic. As the sales of Pools & Spas started to decline in 2008, we tried to increase the number of aftermarket Sku’s we stocked, to take the best advantage of our installed customer base.”
He continues with “Doing that for the last 5 or 6 years has helped our gross receipts during the Recession. So we are very happy to see the return of so much aftermarket stuff at this show. We will definitely be placing a lot of orders here for our store – to stock up for the 2016 season.”
Product Quality On The Rise
One Pool & Spa Industry consultant also noted that “The overall quality of the products displayed at this year’s Expo was very high. You can easily see that when checking out each Booth.”
He added that “Although the prices consumers spend on our industry’s products have not increased significantly over the past few years, the quality of the products certainly has. This is a big selling point for Pools & Spas going into the 2016 season, where we will be competing with other industries such as boats, RV’s, consumer electronics and travel.”
Big Box Products Welcomed By Many
While many are focused on that elusive high-end market, some Manufacturers are quite happy enjoying sales increases by partnering with several Big Box Brick And Mortar chain stores, as well as popular Online shopping sites.
A major Pool & Spa chain store owner from Florida noted that “There has always been a level of resistance from within our industry concerning Big Box stores and online retailers. Through the Recessionary years we were faced with many challenges, and that sort of competition was among them.”
He adds “We were faced with a “beat-em-or-join-em” type of situation within our local market area, and we decided to take on a few lines that were comparable to those sold by the Mass Merchants, both from Online and from the Brick And Mortar’s. Believe it or not – that one change really helped us out substantially from about 2008 to the present time.”
Furthermore, he says that “While we are now seeing the more high-end types of Hot Tubs start moving again, we have embraced the fact that there is a large market for the entry level Big Box type of units. So why not just “join-em” as they say, rather than losing those sales to the Mass Merchants?”
People Loved Vegas!
Overall, the 2015 International Pool, Spa & Patio show was considered to be a great success by most of the folks involved. “The convention hall venue at Mandalay Bay is perfect for this show, compared to some of the other places they have held it in the past” said one New Jersey Exhibitor.
“Having the show in Las Vegas is always our favorite. Being from the East Coast, it is a terrific way for us to connect with many of our West Coast dealers. Plus Las Vegas offers a lot of other things to do after the show. And you know those “other things” are why a lot of people like the Vegas show the best!” he joked.
Next year, the Pool & Spa Expo will be held in New Orleans. The Convention Center there is also very nice. Although many people said they prefer the Las Vegas location for the November show, most indicated that they will be sure to check out the New Orleans event location next year as well!
Here Are Some Other Highlights From The Show: