Quieter 2017 IAADFS show registers 2,076 visitors

By Charlotte Turner |

IAADFS-leadAccording to the IAADFS board, this year’s Duty Free Show of the Americas which took place at the Orlando Marriott World Centre resort in Florida once again this week – registered 2,076* visitors of which 602 were buyer attendees, with 140 companies exhibiting.


Talking exclusively to TRBusiness before the numbers were released, IAADFS President, Michael Payne said that he assumed the final visitor figure would be down between 6-8% on last year’s total. However, he also said that a decline in attendance had been expected.


The last couple of years have been admittedly very tough for the Americas – particularly central and South America – which goes some way to explaining the drop in numbers this year and in 2016. Attendance was flat in 2015 at 2,740, which was apparently ‘in line’ with 2014 numbers.


“We knew that the show was going to be lighter this year and we never tried to disguise that,” said Payne. “I knew the economy was going to hurt us; I knew the conflict with Baselworld was going to hurt us. We were on top of a drinks show that’s just finished…the currency devaluation is hurting us; consolidation is hurting us.


“We knew that. So having said that, and knowing now where the numbers are (yesterday afternoon), I’d say we’re probably down 6-8%. Most of these can be attributed to exhibitors that were here last year, but aren’t this year.”



However, Payne is still feeling pretty positive considering the challenges. “I think the show for the vast majority has been ok – at least for the people I’ve spoken to. Some have said that they have done really well and had good appointments.”



The Opening Cocktail was well attended again this year, with a strong sign of support from members of the ASUTIL and FDFA associations.


Payne is more concerned about the thoughts of those exhibitors which were new to the show this year, and who would no doubt have had fewer scheduled appointments, prior to arriving in Orlando.


What is clear though, is that most visitors and exhibitors want to see some changes implemented to the show concerning the format and venue.


“They want to see the changes, they’re tired of the venue. We know all this,” adds Payne. “We’re probably a year behind where we should be in terms of making that adjustment, but we’ll make it. We’ve got to be here next year, it’s just too late for us to move elsewhere.



“We’re at just about 2,200 people here and I can’t find something in less than a year, but I feel ok about it. It is disheartening when you see some of the shrinkage (in attendance), but the industry is changing so fast and we’ve got to catch up with it and quit trying to do things exactly like we’ve always done them.”



The IAADFS board donated a cheque for $50,000 to the Operation Smile charity, in honour of former IAADFS President, Pancho Motta, who passed away last year.


To be fair to Payne and the IAADFS some changes have already been applied. “The ability to come to the show as just a travel retail person is easier now. Before, you had to show who you were distributing for, or who your representative was etc so we’re trying to adapt to it ourselves and I think that’s going to make a difference.”



Michael Payne, IAADFS President.

Payne says he is optimistic about the show next year. This will be jointly held by the South American duty free association (ASUTIL) and IAADFS as they join forces to host the new ‘Summit of the Americas’ in March 2018.


As reported by TRBusiness via its Twitter feed, the show will take place once again in Orlando at the Marriott World Centre next year between 18-21 March.


More details on the format will follow in the next few weeks and months.


TRBusiness understands that the IAADFS and ASUTIL have been in talks with some major international beauty houses who have attended the Duty Free Show of the Americas in the past such as Dior and Chanel, among others about their attendance for the 2018 show.


Although the initial conversations have been very positive, Payne cannot yet confirm that they will actually participate next year, at least at this point.



Gala dinner guests enjoyed some top-flight musical entertainment again this year.

*The IAADFS notes that these attendance figures are ‘unaudited’.


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