It’s been a record-breaking 2011 for Tradex.
The trade and exhibition centre, located at the Abbotsford International Airport, is experiencing its busiest year on record with a booking capacity of 93 per cent. Last year, the facility boasted a 91 per cent capacity.
“The industry average is 48 per cent,” said Vali Marling, the director of operations, sales and marketing for Tradex.
“We have no weekends left to sell for the rest of the year, except in October, on the Thanksgiving weekend. But nobody holds an event on that weekend.”
She feels the record year is fitting, considering Tradex is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In the past two decades, the facility has hosted more than 1,000 events, five million guests and creates an economic impact of between $50 million and $55 million per year, depending if it’s a trade show year.
Marling used Truxpo as an example. It is a trade show held every two years.
“We have out-of-town guests that fly in for that event,” she explained, which increases the economic impact as more hotels and restaurants, along with local shops, benefit.
“And we are very conservative with our economic estimates,” added Marling.
Originally, Tradex was owned by the BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), which also runs B.C. Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre. However, in 2002, the City of Abbotsford took over control of the facility – and the numbers began to grow.
“One thing we have done really well is hit the right target market … we know what works and what we can and can’t host.”
Marling said having the flexibility to work with clients, and with local officials, without the restrictions often found in Vancouver, has allowed Tradex to create a reputation of success.
And that reputation is growing beyond the city borders.
Business in Vancouver magazine has Tradex listed as hosting 13 of the Top 25 trade and convention shows in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley.
“Abbotsford is well known for putting on successful shows.”
However, despite the positive numbers, there are two concerns that could hamper further growth.
“We have no more dates to sell and we are too small. We literally do not have enough floor space,” said Marling.
The facility currently has 123,000 square feet of floor space, and talk of expansion has been ongoing.
“Expansion is definitely what we want to see happen.”
Marling believes there is room on the site for an additional 75,000 to 85,000 square feet which would allow Tradex to host more, and larger shows and meet the demand for the next 15 to 20 years.
Because of its size, Marling was forced to turn away events. Those lost sales equalled 50 per cent of the current revenues.
“I’m hoping expansion happens soon, but first we have to justify the numbers … we were built to create economic impact in Abbotsford.”