Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and Outdoor Retailer, which Emerald Expositions owns, will go their separate ways after a long partnership that fueled considerable royalty revenue for the non-profit trade association. The two organizations agreed to conclude their exclusive partnership following the 2024 Outdoor Retailer Winter Show from November 6-8, 2024.

OIA reported that its members will continue to receive a 10 percent discount on booth rates exhibiting through the November 2024 show.

“OIA and Outdoor Retailer have enjoyed a longstanding partnership marked by industry-leading education, networking, and community experiences. We appreciate the valuable opportunities that Outdoor Retailer has long provided, and continues to provide, to the outdoor industry and our membership,” said Kent Ebersole, president of the Outdoor Industry Association. “This next chapter enables our organizations to work to unify our industry, foster growth, and deepen community engagement.”

“Outdoor Retailer is proud to have worked closely with OIA throughout our decades-long partnership and of the collaborative ways we cultivated growth across the outdoor industry, said Sean Smith, Outdoor Retailer show director. “As we move forward, we will continue to work with industry organizations like OIA and others to provide valuable education and community advocacy at our shows and commit resources that ensure the industry makes progress and thrives. We’re dedicated to serving the evolving market and giving the outdoor community the most robust national stage to gather, learn, and build relationships.”

The separation, or divorce, was always expected to be a tough move for OIA to absorb, as the loss of royalties from the show would potentially cut millions from the trade association’s budget each year. As the Outdoor Retailer show continued to get smaller and exhibitors left the venue, royalties revenue for OIA declined. However, a funny thing happened on the way to this eventual agreement—OIA shifted away from its heavy reliance on Outdoor Retailer trade show royalties.

For example, Royalties revenues collected by OIA were approximately $1.7 million in 2022, as reported in the non-profit’s Form 990 filed last year. Royalties accounted for only 19.7 percent of revenue for the year. OIA had reworked its programs and membership to shift more of the revenue to Program Services, which accounted for $6.6 million, or 78.6 percent, of total revenues for the year.

Those familiar with the OIA budget have told SGB Media in past years that OIA’s Royalties revenue came primarily from the Outdoor Retailer trade shows.

In 2021, the Royalties line was clearly affected by the cancellation of the OR shows due to COVID, accounting for just $642,462, or 10.5 percent of total revenues, for the year, leading to staff cuts at the trade association. Compensation, salaries and wages were approximately $1.3 million in 2021, compared to approximately $2.3 million in 2020.

In 2020, which represented the first partial pre-COVID year as only the OR Winter and Snow Show was produced, royalties accounted for 44.5 percent of revenues, or $1.8 million for the year, while Program Services delivered $2.2 million, or 54.1 percent of revenues.

For the last “normal year in 2019, Royalties amounted to $4.4 million in revenue, or 63.6 percent of total revenues, while Program Services accounted for only $2.3 million, or 32.9 percent of total revenue for the year. Compensation expenses were north of $3.1 million for the year.

From 2011 to 2018, the revenues from Royalties were generally in the $4 million to $5 million range per year and represented 70 percent to 75 percent of total revenues per year. Compensation expenses progressed from $1.3 million to $3.2 million over those eight years.

It is apparent that OIA has done good work adjusting the income lines of its budget and P&L to accommodate the shrinking revenues from the OR trade shows over the years.

From the beginning of the 30-year partnership, many in the outdoor industry would openly discuss that the royalties paid to OIA were a way to keep the trade association out of the trade show business—this may be the next step to see that materialize.

Image courtesy Outdoor Retailer