WASHINGTON-The two national tire dealer associations are knocking on a lot of doors in the international community hoping to dramatically boost representation of foreign countries at their respective trade shows this year. Both the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association and the International Tire & Rubber Association (formerly the American Retreaders Association) have been working separately with the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. embassies around the world to gather data on tire businesses in various countries and to promote the benefits of their annual trade shows.
The ITRA announced in February its efforts to increase attendance from various countries at its annual World Tire Conference & Exhibition, set to open April 17 in Louisville, Ky.
Meanwhile, the NTDRA, which will host its annual convention and trade show in Atlanta this September, announced in late March similar efforts to bolster registration of both international attendees and exhibitors.
For the first time, the NTDRA has hired an international marketing firm to promote its show, and an NTDRA exhibit will debut at the ``Reifen '96*'' trade show in Essen, Germany, where association staff will meet with prospective exhibitors and officials from European tire dealer/retreader associations and trade publications.
``NTDRA plans to leave no stone unturned during the next five months in our efforts to draw a record-setting number of qualified, first-time NTDRA convention attendees from Central and South America, Europe and other significant international markets hungry for American products,'' said NTDRA President Paul Bobzin.
As part of its program, the NTDRA said it will poll exhibitors before its convention to ``ascertain levels of export interest and export-readiness on a market-by-market basis, and employ the survey findings to persuade prospec-tive international attendees of the probable payback to their visit'' to the NTDRA show.
The NTDRA show has had international representation since its inception, but that presence has increased at its last two annual conventions, with visitors representing between 25 and 40 countries, according Tony Hylton, NTDRA's director of communications services. The new marketing blitz hopes to expand on that trend, he said.
``The more exhibitors you have, the more attention there is on the show,'' Mr. Hylton said.
Meanwhile, the ITRA intensified its international marketing this year, and as a result is expecting two contingents from Brazil, totaling 134, to attend this year's show, compared with the usual dozen Brazilian attendees in the past, according to ITRA Executive Director Marvin Bozarth.
Representatives from 12 new countries will join visitors from the 28 other foreign nations represented in past shows, he added.
The ITRA said it worked with the U.S. State Department and an international trade specialist from the Commerce Department to contact every active U.S. embassy. Those embassies responding to the inquiries received videotaped highlights of the ITRA's past trade shows. Some embassies generated lists of tire businesses in their host countries to which the ITRA targeted conference and promotional mailings, which were translated into several languages.
As in past years, the ITRA offers to write letters to support foreigners seeking visas to visit the U.S. for the show.
At the show, it provides translators and a special hospitality room for international visitors.