By Dave Fulson, Chifuti Safaris and Safari Classics Productions
Originally published in Sports Afield Magazine
As a safari operator and booking agent, hunting conventions are my link to clients who want more than phone time when planning their next adventure. Yes, we attend several each year, but for the following reasons, our team considers the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Sporting Expo each January as THE first, and best choice for meeting and booking clients from around the globe for a wide variety of outdoor adventures.
The DSC Convention is the first major convention of its kind on the calendar each year, which is an advantage for several reasons. A percentage of international hunters beat the rush by booking well in advance, sometimes years, prior to their hunt. But the vast majority look to the conventions as their favored time to visit outfitters in person to select dates, reserve quota, and request their preference of guide or professional hunter for the upcoming season. DSC Convention is the first opportunity to accomplish these priorities.
Top outfitters − from Africa and around the world − book well in advance, and often enjoy brisk competition from clients for dates and quota. Once these are spoken for, that’s it. Hunters will now have to book for next year, or with another outfit. As the DSC Convention has grown to be an international destination show, scheduled usually a month in advance of its largest competitor, many hunters see the advantage of attendance as a mandatory pleasure.
From a vendor standpoint, the DSC Convention truly is a pleasure to attend. Arrival and setup is carried out with military precision due in large part to the army of volunteer DSC members who donate their time and passion to ensure that their customers (the exhibitors) enjoy their stay in Big D. I hear the phrase “Texas Hospitality” countless times when visiting with fellow vendors as we compare and contrast the DSC show to the others. And it’s true, there is a feeling of friendliness and gratitude conveyed to the vendors, sponsors, and convention attendees by DSC that I have never felt elsewhere.
Of course as a vendor, we want what? You guessed it, attendees who will become customers. And DSC delivers! The 2015 DSC Convention saw more than 45,000 hunters come through the gate, breaking the attendance record once again. DSC makes attending the convention affordable, one reason for their success. A day pass is $20, and a four-day pass is a bargain at only $50. Unlike some organizations which demand membership to attend their convention, DSC encourages non-members to attend their event. This proven formula on the best way to grow the organization is to show what you stand for, introduce the people who support your mission, and make membership a desirable addition to your convention experience, not a demand for entrance.
I proudly support several pro-hunting, gun rights organizations, but my favorite is DSC. The people, the mission, and the members I call friends all add up to make the DSC Convention my favorite week of the year.
I’ll see you at Conservation January 7-10 in Dallas, Texas next year where the party will start all over again!