John and Kurt returned from Outdoor Retailer this week—a little older, a little wiser, and a little more sunburned than before, but ultimately better for having gotten a picture with one of the llamas from Cotopaxi. However, they didn’t just accumulate sweet merch and try their hand at fly fishing. They also learned a thing or two, or ten:
1. OR is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts looking to stock up on gear, and for businesses looking to partner with like-minded people. There were a whopping 30,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibitors.
2. The place was chock full of retailers. Every facet of the retail spectrum, from international mega-brands to start-ups, was aptly represented.
3. In fact, 232 of the brands were new!
4. The future is now, and it begins with Goal Zero. They want to help people stay connected in the great outdoors with solar-powered solutions for lights, laptops, and cameras. All you tech-obsessed indoors people (like yours truly) can now have the best of both worlds.
5. There was so much going on at any given time that seeing everything there was to see pretty much required the perseverance and stamina of an Olympic athlete.
6. If you were going to be doing a lot of chatting, walking, and test-driving, you were going to need water, and lots of it. CamelBak offered several serve-yourself water stations where you could refill as you perused their products, which included the latest and greatest in hydration packs for hiking, cycling, and festival-going.
7. In a B2B trade show space, the sky’s the limit. OR featured everything from three-story behemoths with intricate lighting and landscaping to simple 10×10 spaces with sampling.
8. The National Park Service was there, and they’re celebrating their 2016 centennial in a big way. Answer a few simple questions on their website with their Find Your Park campaign, and within seconds you’ll be able to plan a visit to the Park that best suits your fancy.
9. OR is a fantastic place to network casually. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a pitch-free, agenda-less chat with someone over a plate of pancakes and follow up at a later date with something like, “Hey! Remember our conversation about experiential right before I ate approximately all of the pancakes they put in front of me? That was pretty sweet.”
10. On that note, everybody likes pancakes. Everybody. Offer pancakes (like UnTapped did), and the people will come.