WASHINGTON -- The warehouse and distribution pavilion will not be returning to the Food Marketing Institute's annual convention in 1997.
FMI officials here said the warehousing and logistics consultants, material-handling equipment manufacturers and third-party transportation providers who took booths in this year's pavilion will be incorporated into a wider variety of exhibitors next year.
Show floors at next year's convention will be arranged into broad categories. Vendors who were located in the warehouse pavilion will now be in McCormick Place's North Building, which will feature exhibitors offering store equipment, fixtures, design, technology and services.
The decision to integrate pavilion exhibitors into broader categories came as part of a widespread convention restructuring plan, said Edie Clark, an FMI spokeswoman. The exhibition will be contained to one floor in the new McCormick Place building in Chicago.
Since its inception last year, the pavilion has received mixed reviews from exhibitors. Participation at this year's convention was down to 12 exhibitor booths, as opposed to 15 in 1995.
One complaint voiced by several exhibitors was the loss of convention foot traffic to aisles featuring exhibits with more "bells and whistles," such as food samples.
The effect of a new "Category Education Center," which featured video and staff presentations and seating space for informal meetings, was difficult to gauge, some exhibitors said.
A number of exhibitors told SN that because the education center was frequently vacant, the warehouse aisle appeared less inviting than areas occupied by exhibitors and product demonstrations.
"The aisle looks empty," said Scott Griffin, director of business development for Facility Group, Smyrna, Ga. "It would have been better if the entire aisle had been filled out," he added.
FMI's Clark called the education center "an experiment" and said exhibitor and attendee responses to it were "OK."
"We could have done a better job marketing the [pavilion] concept," added David Sisk, executive vice president of Garr Consulting, Marietta, Ga. "But there are a lot of people coming through the aisle. We've especially seen a lot of international attendees."
"It's a great spot for us," said Paul Lorenzini, president of Bunzl Distribution, St. Louis, whose firm had one of the largest booths in the pavilion.