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OSHOW’s Sydney success could see event return to city for 2024

Almost three years since its last major event, the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) is basking in the success of O-SHOW22, which could become a permanent biennial fixture for Sydney.

The optical trade fair was held at the Hordern Pavilion over Friday 27 May and Saturday 28 May, with around 1,100 industry professionals registering their attendance to view the latest releases from more than 70 suppliers across 130 booths.

The last OSHOW was held in Melbourne in 2018. It alternates with ODMA’s other major event O=MEGA, which it runs in conjunction with Optometry Victoria/South Australia in Melbourne.

COVID forced the postponement or cancellation of these events in recent years, with O=MEGA19 being ODMA’s last event. So the return of O-Show – a key industry trading platform as well as a revenue stream for ODMA –  was met with equal measures of relief and excitement.

The Hordern Pavilion in Sydney provided an ideal location for the event.

ODMA acting CEO Ms Amanda Trotman told Insight this year’s OSHOW was almost double the floor size of the last OSHOW in Melbourne that featured 700-800 attendees and 47 exhibitors. This was a deliberate move, considering how few events there had been across the Australian optical industry and was achieved despite placing a limit on the number of booths any one exhibitor could purchase.

“When I’ve been walking the aisles and getting a chance to talk to exhibitors, firstly I’ve been hearing that everyone is loving having an event for Sydney – that’s not happened for a long time,” she said.

“Secondly, they’re really enjoying that face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to be back out building business in a vibrant event setting. I’ve also heard it’s a good mix of not only customers they know, but they’re actually seeing many new faces.”

Trotman said around 65% of attendees were from New South Wales. Last time OSHOW was held in Melbourne, around 80% were from the home state, indicating Sydney’s accessibility as a host city.

 

The Device Technologies booth was a hive of activity through both days of the event.

This year, Victorians and Queenslanders made up around 12% of attendees each, and around 4% came from South Australia and 2% from Western Australia and another 2% from New Zealand. While COVID-19 is still impacting the desire of some to travel, attendees came from as far afield as Canada, France, Japan and Hong Kong.

In terms of the types of attendees, approximately 30% classified themselves as owners/directors/managers, 30% were optometrists, 25% were optical dispensers and 12% worked in customer service.

While the majority of attendees were from independent practices, exhibitors told Insight they had spoken to several corporate employees scoping out equipment and products to make the jump to independent practice.

Equipment distributors such as Device Technologies, Designs For Vision and OptiMed, and frames suppliers like Sunglass Collective, Eyes Right Optical and Frames Etcetera appeared to enjoy high activity on their booths, alongside lens suppliers Hoya and Zeiss (lenses and equipment).

Eyes Right Optical and Sunglass Collective – owned by the Wymond family – enjoyed a central location at the event.

Trotman said the industry had been calling for a Sydney event for some time, and would now canvas attendees and exhibitors in a survey to decide whether OSHOW will be again held in Australia’s most populous city in 2024.

“The plan would be to try and keep this in Sydney based on its success. The survey for both attendees and exhibitors will also ask for feedback on other aspects such as opening hours and days of the week – and whether it should stay on Friday and Saturday, or be run Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

This year’s event also included Masterclasses and Workshops for the first time, focusing on topics related to optical dispensing, skills for front of house staff and starting independent practices.

The event also featured Spotlight Sessions on the exhibit floor, focusing on issues such as the patient experience in a digital world, 3D printed customised eyewear, choosing frames for patients’ face types, and building rapport with customers for increased sales.

ODMA’s next event, O=MEGA23, will be held in Melbourne from 8-10 September 2023, in partnership with the 4th World Congress of Optometry.

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