As I write, a palpable excitement is circulating the office, emanating from the many decisions and preparations taking place for our attendance at an upcoming and brand-new trade event.
In the U.S., the indoor tanning industry is what I would consider lucky in that it has a variety of dedicated tanning shows on offer throughout the year. Over the years, I have attended a great number of these shows and pretty much without exception returned to the UK physically exhausted but mentally revitalised and buzzing with ideas and information.
Unfortunately for the UK’s indoor tanning market, indeed for the European market as a whole, we have been without a dedicated indoor tanning show for a number of years now. There is no doubt this has had an impact on the tanning product industry in terms of a neutrally located, face-to-face marketing opportunity with existing and potential customers.
Not only that but also the timing of the significant economic downturn of recent years unfortunately coincided with a relentless onslaught of anti-tanning activity that specifically targeted our industry. The combination of these factors alongside the lack of a regular, major-industry gathering fuelled, in my opinion, a growing lack of confidence in investment in new businesses and new products. Certainly this was the case in the UK and I would suggest throughout most of the European market.
So it really was excellent and refreshing news when the European Sunlight Association announced the launch of a brand new indoor tanning show in Cologne, Germany at a time when trading conditions were and still continue to improve and with new business enquiries in the ascent.
SUNbiz, as the show has been named, is set to be a showcase of all that is new and exciting in indoor tanning, with the world’s leading companies in tanning equipment, lotions and accessories all on show. Alongside the exhibition will be an interesting and full programme of presentations from a line-up of excellent speakers, enabling event visitors to bring themselves right up to speed on all the latest research findings, developments and issues that relate to tanning and UV.
Another interesting element of the SUNbiz event is that it will run alongside a well-established and very successful health and fitness event called FIBO. This was a deliberate and smart move in my opinion, as there is without doubt clear synergy between the two events, demonstrated by the growing understanding and awareness of the relationship between vitamin D levels and athletic performance and not just at an elite level. And in addition to this, as within any successful gym environment, properly trained staff and well-maintained equipment are at the core of responsible and successful tanning bed provision.
For many years in the UK, tanning beds were always a successful stream of secondary or even tertiary income for health clubs and fitness centres and in many locations remain so to this day. However, the anti-tanning campaigns vociferously attacked tanning beds, lobbying for their withdrawal on ill-informed prejudice masquerading as health “advice.” Truth is, it’s the opposite. I call it health vandalism.
But now the tide is turning, and we are once again seeing the growth of tanning bed provision back in this market, making the SUNbiz event bang on trend!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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