Padel Trend Expo founder: Our event is a boost for the market


Luigi Spera, founder of Padel Trend, has talked about the new edition of Padel Trend Expo and its new features as it returns to Milan from January 19th-21st.

Spera is aware of playing a crucial role in a rapidly expanding industry, emphasising that there is still a shortage of one million players and events like Padel Trend are essential to encourage their participation.

In recent years, Italy has emerged as a land of players in padel, which has witnessed rapid growth in just five years. This has caught the interest of many exhibition organisers. Among all these initiatives, one had a surprising success in its first edition last January.

Born from a Luigi Spera idea and supported by the Next Group, Milan's Allianz MiCo will host the second edition of Padel Trend this month, with new challenges to face. It is never easy to confirm, but there are all the conditions for it to happen, thanks to the accumulated experience, undeniable knowledge of the sector, and activation of numerous B2B and B2C opportunities, making Padel Trend an unmissable event for those who want to be the protagonist of the padel world (and beyond).

Luigi Spera shares his views on the Expo with Sweetspot Communications.

How is the organization of Padel Trend 2024 unfolding after the success of the first edition?

This stage is exciting because there is a desire for growth. The new challenge is to transform it into an international event, with efforts to promote it in various markets such as France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom plus further afield including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East, and even Australia. The goal is for Padel Trend to become a global reference for padel, also expanding to other racket sports, starting with pickleball, which is ready to explode in Italy as well.

Is it possible to create a Racket Sports Fair in the near future?

Our goal, starting this year, is to become the gathering place to offer an additional reason for sports club owners and managers to attend Padel Trend. A high percentage of padel courts are integrated into a sports context where other disciplines exist, attracting people interested in approaching companies related to the world of sports in general. Padel remains our main focus, but Padel Trend is also open to other sports facilities because a good club manager wants to know how to access pickleball, how to renovate a club house, how to find new solutions to make their structure more efficient.

What new features will generate the most interest among enthusiasts?

The format remains the same as in 2023, so you are invited to bring your racket as in the last edition, we gave the opportunity to about two thousand people to play. You will be able to test the new models of rackets, participate in a training session, attend exhibition matches, and watch training sessions of the world's top players. These initiatives were very successful and will be replicated with even more important personalities. We are in negotiations with several brands so that their top ambassadors will be present, as Padel Trend is a high-level showcase.

What is the connection between the club players, businesses, and Padel Trend?

I believe that brands must change their approach towards the end consumer, and Padel Trend wants to present itself as an important opportunity. A more intense and structured connection is necessary: club players must form discussion groups and actively participate in the development of this sport, as well as what motivates it, starting with the equipment and systems sector. Ultimately, market players are still enthusiasts, so it is essential to listen to their needs. In this sense, padel must progress, and Padel Trend can also represent a moment of reflection because I believe a commercial revolution in this sector is imminent.

What events can we expect?

There will be exciting surprises with important names, as the date is extremely favourable, considering that January is finally the only month without a professional tournament. The exhibition formats will be different, and I am particularly attracted to the mixed doubles: who in tennis doesn't remember the Hopman Cup with Roger Federer against Serena Williams?

Will there be any structural changes?

We have the same pavilion as last year, and there will be space for six, maybe seven, courts. If we had to meet all the demands of the builders, we would have needed to install around 15! In response to high demand, we have chosen to add an additional 8,000 square meters, expand the stands, and create an even more attractive exclusive area.

Additionally, we will improve the two pickleball courts, which will have their own dedicated stands and numerous support activities. However, we have decided to exclude retail customers, who will need to be authorized by different brands to be present. This upgrade is important and further defines our event, which is by no means intended to be an occasion to empty warehouses and sell off stock. We do not want to be a simple market, quite the opposite.

A priority aspect remains the conference program: what do you have planned?

Among the many topics, a particularly fascinating conference will involve some of the most important coaches in the world. They will share numerous anecdotes related to their experience with the strongest players in history, but they will also shed light on new trends in training, approach to matches, and professional careers in the constantly evolving Padel sport. We want them to explain these developments to us. Additionally, sports training will have its own specific space.

Do you see significant room for growth?

Of course, there is still a lack of a million participants. Italy should aim for at least two million. After all, if there are over four million in Spain...

What Padel Trend segment satisfies you the most, the least?

Let's say that the engineering of the facilities poses a problem, as many companies have not yet realised that Padel Trend represents a business opportunity beyond just padel. Club managers need to establish connections with companies looking to showcase their entire portfolio. In this regard, we still face challenges. What satisfies me the most is the overwhelming enthusiasm of the community for this event. We are not a concert, but we already have over two thousand people pre-registered for tickets.

Padel Trend positions itself as a business and consumer fair. How do you find the right balance?

For the 2024 edition, Padel Trend will extend to three days, and maybe even four in 2025, in order to organise more elements dedicated to B2B. I believe we have found the right balance by addressing the end consumer. In any case, the first edition generated a turnover of over ten million euros.

How many operators are expected for the 2024 edition, and what is the presence of the target audience?

We hope to attract between 27,000 and 30,000 visitors. We are delighted to see a keen interest internationally, with requests even coming from Chile. As exhibitors, we plan to accommodate between 150 and 160 participants, mainly due to specific spaces. Our communication campaign will be massive, present in all national airports, cinemas, subways, news sites, social media, and vertical newspapers. In 2023, we reached 110 million Opportunity To See (OTS), which represents significant economic value.

How have you approached foreign markets?

We have engaged in direct discussions with associations and federations. Roadshows have been organized to demonstrate the appeal of Padel Trend, and these initiatives have also been deployed in clubs. We have established a virtuous circle, now reaching 6,000 clubs, mainly foreign, interested in business opportunities and the spectacle.

Will new sectors be explored?

Discussions will become even more important and will address new topics such as traumatology and corporate finance applied to sports. Space will be dedicated to sports tourism, as active vacations are experiencing a growing trend, and padel players certainly do not want to leave their rackets behind while travelling. Padel Trend can connect accommodation establishments with both the end client and installation companies to meet all their needs. We will also organise workshops, an area that we will increasingly develop.

What is the relationship with institutions?

The Italian Federation was enthusiastic in 2023, and therefore we will renew the partnership for 2024. We hope to do the same with the FIP, as Padel Trend could be an opportunity to launch the new Premier Padel season. As for the Lombardy Region, it has expressed its desire to participate more actively in the promotion of the territory, and discussions are underway with the municipality of Milan due to the interest generated by our expo. Padel Trend wants to be closely associated with institutions, but concrete actions are necessary.

What message does Padel Trend want to convey?

We want to involve all key players in this sector. Serious promotion is needed to continue growing, in order to reach that missing million practitioners. Padel Trend is a boost for the market.

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