Plans to move the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association of Australia (ODMA) bi-annual exhibition to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) in 2013 have been met with very mixed reactions. This is despite a list of initiatives designed to enhance the experience, announced by the newly appointed organisers, Expertise Events.
With 3,000 of Australia’s 4,425 optometrists located in Victoria and New South Wales, and approximately 75 per cent of eyewear wholesalers located in Sydney, the general consensus among exhibitors and optometrists we spoke to was that the added cost, time and effort would barely be worth their while. Add to that the woes of the economy and ODMA organisers may be hard pushed to make a success of the event.
Finola Carey, Chief Executive Officer of ODMA, remains unphased. She told mivision she is confident the new venue, along with a host of new features and offers will be embraced by exhibitors and visitors alike. “ODMA 2013 will be absolutely vibrant – completely re-energised,” said Ms. Carey.
Richard Grills, Chairman of ODMA is equally confident. “I am certain ODMA 2013 will be a smash hit with both visitors and exhibitors. The great venue and new concepts will attract eye care professionals and exhibitors will benefit from the attendance of a broader spread of customers than in previous ODMA events…”
Who are we trying to attract in Brisbane? Most of our accounts are in Sydney or Melbourne
Aaron McColl, Managing Director of Brisbane based Shaan said his company will definitely exhibit in 2013 despite not having had a presence at the previous two ODMA exhibitions.
“We’re a Brisbane company so now that ODMA is in Brisbane, we have to be there – it’s our turf. I don’t think anyone from Victoria will be worried about travelling to Queensland – if anything they’ll be happy because of the Melbourne Sydney rivalry.
“I know businesses in Sydney will be upset with the decision but I hope they support it – after all, everyone has travelled to Sydney for ODMA for so many years. Sure, Brisbane is a bit smaller than Sydney in terms of social attractions, but we’ve got some great venues!”
Tony Martella, the CEO of the Optometrists Association in Western Australia said he expects there will be a strong presence from WA. “Many of our optometrists come from the QUT in Brisbane so this is a great reason to travel back home. I expect they’ll be happy with this decision,” he said.
In Sydney, the mood in the main was not as positive. Jacque Katsieris, Managing Director of ProOptics said, “the decision to move ODMA to Brisbane is ridiculous – 75 per cent of wholesalers are based in Sydney and it costs them so much to exhibit here in NSW – moving interstate will increase those costs even more. If the argument is that we’re moving to a state where it is cheaper to exhibit, then the price differential should be much greater than the one being offered. I think this decision could have a negative impact on the future of ODMA.”
Jim Kareh from Matrix Eyewear in Sydney, who has been an ODMA Best Stand Award winner, said he’s still thinking through his options for 2013 but if he goes, he’ll take a much smaller stand. “I’m a member of ODMA and I’ve supported the exhibition for years so I’m really angry that the organisers have decided to move without consultation.” He said to have a presence in Brisbane will be very expensive. “Last ODMA we invested AUD$68,000 in a new stand, which I might as well throw away. I’d need the shopfitters who built the stand to take it to Brisbane and rebuild it but that would be prohibitive cost wise. I might as well start again.” On top of that, he said, are costs for staff and customer entertainment.
Mr. Kareh said that while he understands the necessity to move from Darling Harbour, Brisbane was not the best choice. “Who are we trying to attract in Brisbane? Most of our accounts are in Sydney or Melbourne and the ones I have spoken to have said they won’t be travelling north.”
Speaking of the plans, Andrew McKinnon, Chief Executive Officer of the Optometrists Association of Australia New South Wales division said he will be working hard to encourage support for ODMA 2013 in its new location.
“We will work with ODMA to encourage optometrists to make a weekend of it, to head up to Brisbane and take a look at what will be a very exciting and different ODMA,” said Mr. McKinnon.
ODMA is scheduled for 5 – 7 July 2013.