The first event, OTS 2006, took place in in Hall 1 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, with 46 exhibitors booking stand space and attracting 621 visitors, all praising the show and the venue.
Due to the increased demand for space, the show moved to the larger Hall 2 at Stoneleigh Park in 2007 which offered 50% more space – it was again a sell out with 888 visitors and 85 exhibitors, and has continued to grow ever since.
Now nearly 12 year’s old, OTS is very well established as the UK’s largest outdoor industry event, with last year’s show seeing almost 1,000 visitors pass through the doors in just 2 days.
OTS was instigated by Michael White, former owner of the Wynnster outdoor and camping brand. After the move of the trade show ‘Go Outdoors’ to an earlier summer slot in July, Michael believed there was still a need for outdoor accessory brands to have an opportunity to showcase their products in the traditional autumn selling slot. Michael enlisted the help of outdoor PR, marketing and event management specialists Media Contact Services (MCS), to bring the concept to a reality. MCS organised the Tent Show on behalf of a number of camping suppliers, and sharing Michael’s vision, agreed as a joint venture to launch, market and manage the new show.
Behind this new initiative were a group of key manufacturers who were approached to support the project from the start. They all believed in the idea of an autumn show so much, that they were prepared to underwrite the costs of the show in the first year.
The original founder members of OTS were AMG Group, Burton McCall, Gelert, Hi-Gear, Thatchreed and Wynnster, some of which remain founders today and are involved in the delivery and decision making behind the scenes.
The original concept of OTS, which was agreed from the outset amongst the founder companies, was that it was to be a straightforward, cost effective show and a place where companies could do business in a relaxed atmosphere with no gimmicks or hidden costs. This remains the core value of the show to this day, marketed to the industry as a ‘no frills’ cost effective platform for visitors to browse products from hundreds of brands, all under the one roof.
OTS Organiser, Marta Williams (MCS) said: “Having been involved from the show’s inception in 2006 means that we have had full understanding and control over the direction of the show, and have been able to develop certain aspects over the years to keep it fresh and ensure its continued success.”
Prior to OTS merging with the Tent Show in 2012, the show was an indoor only event. The results of the post-show survey analysis from exhibitors and visitors who attended the show in that year showed that over 90% of people were pleased with the decision to merge, as it allowed them to see a wide variety of brands showing clothing, footwear and accessory products in the exhibition halls, alongside viewing tents and awnings on the outside grass areas.
For OTS 2017, in a move to further embrace the extraordinary work of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and become more representative of the whole trade, OTS has gifted the trade association a share of the show’s ownership.