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Positive result for first SILMO Sydney

There was a positive feeling around the inaugural SILMO Sydney, despite lower than expected attendances across the three days.

The first ophthalmic tradeshow held in Sydney at the newly opened $1 billion International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour combined with the added allure of the SILMO brand meant most people on the floor had anticipated larger crowds, however that did not mean business was slow.

The general consensus among exhibitors was that it provided an opportunity for more in-depth discussions with potential customers. Many commented that it was refreshing to find that visitors were not rushing off to seminars or a conference plenary session throughout the fair as often happens at other events.

Managing director of SILMO organiser Expertise Events, Mr Gary Fitz-Roy, said overall he was pleased with how the show had transpired, but also acknowledged there was room for improvement in some areas.

“From a presentation and atmosphere perspective it came up really well. Overwhelmingly the comments related to how relaxed and professional the environment was – from move-in til the last day it went very smoothly so that was terrific,” he said.

“If there’s a downside I’d say that our perceptions, along with the industry, was that maybe there might have been more in attendance, but I think what outweighed that has been the buying that happened on the days.”

Even though more visitors were expected, one exhibitor who enjoyed a positive three days was Mr Mark Blackadder, director of newly launched optical business, Make Your Mark Group.

Blackadder, an industry veteran of over 25 years, chose SILMO to unveil his new venture and said he appreciated the type of clientele who visited his stand.

Commenting on the final day of the show Blackadder said, “It’s been a successful platform for the launch and it’s actually more boutique because you haven’t had as many crowds. No one’s been in a rush, which is nice, so you’ve been able to dedicate your time to people who have been willing to sit and listen and learn the product and then purchase.”

“Of course we would have liked more people through and you always want more sales, but you look at the quality that was here and the follow up business – and it’s been a lot of new customers as well – that’s been more important to us,” he added.

Meanwhile, business manager of ophthalmic diagnostic at Device Technologies, Ryan Heggie, said even though certain areas could be improved the first SILMO show had exceeded their expectations.

AFT Pharmaceuticals

“With our diagnostic equipment there’s a lot to go through, and it’s nice that at SILMO they’re not in a rush to get back to the next lecture or the next seminar. So in that regard we’re having people on the booth for up to an hour and you really don’t get that at some of the conferences,” he said.

“Was there room for improvement? I would say yes, but being the first SILMO to expect to achieve everything in the very first year would be unrealistic.”

Other highlights of SILMO included the detailed presentations on macro trends in the optical industry made by GfK Global director of optics and eyewear, Mr Gianni Cossar, and the many speakers at the ‘National Independent Retailers Conference’.

The closing Mega Rox Party, held at The Rocks under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and overlooking the Opera House, and attended by more than 400 people, was very successful. Most people commented that it was a fitting way to end a three-day trade fair.

However, notwithstanding the positivity surrounding the inaugural show, most exhibitors spoken to by Insight indicated it was not feasible to have both SILMO and the ODMA Fair in the same year.

ODMA Fair is conducted every two years and Fitz-Roy said a review would take place before a decision would be made about timing of the next show and whether it would be an annual event.

“Certainly there was a lot of talk on the floor that it was definitely happening next year and that’s really encouraging, however, I think the right thing to do is to go through a process of seeing what the feedback is.

“I gave a commitment to the industry 12 months ago that we would wait until the [first] event finished and assess future schedules with post-research of our exhibitors, stakeholders and the visitors,” Fitz-Roy said.

He also added that there have been changes to dates of some international optical fairs including Vision Expo New York, which would have to be taken into account.

A full report on SILMO will appear in the April issue of Insight magazine.

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