It's an opportunity that doesn't come along often in Rotorua - the chance to sell your products or market your business to a captive audience of around 25,000 people.

Next month's 50th Rotorua Marathon has already attracted 8000 entries, many of them from out of town. Runners apparently bring with them an average of 2.3 supporters which means the May 3 event presents a business opportunity too good to ignore, according to Sandra Kai Fong.

Ms Kai Fong is the organiser of the Asics Expo, which will run at the Rotorua Events Centre on May 2 and 3.

It will feature a food hall, outdoor food court, bar, live music, kids' zone and a sports, health and lifestyle expo - with exhibits from tourism operators, real estate agents and a range of retailers.


But there was still space for more, Ms Kai Fong said. "We'll certainly take more businesses," she said. "If they want to get involved we will make room."

She said it was a great opportunity for local retailers to take their shops to "where the crowds are".

"There's potentially 25,000 people going through that event centre in two days ... you wouldn't get that in your shop."

Ms Kai Fong said runners and supporters would be at the centre registering on Friday and would be there from early on Saturday morning.

And while the runners made their way around the lake, their supporters would be looking for things to do, she said.

In previous years there had just been displays by a couple of sponsors so this year was a first, Ms Kai Fong said. "I took the idea [of the expo] to Event Promotions as an add-on to the marathon by having a full expo," she said. "It's the 50th so it's something a bit special, a bit different."

She said several tourism operators had recognised the opportunity. "It's a marketing exercise for them. Even if [visitors] can't visit that weekend, they know next time they come back the wonderful things to see and do," she said.

"We're using this as an opportunity to promote Rotorua."

She said a local real estate agency would be there, seeing it as a chance to show the Auckland contingent what their money could buy them in Rotorua compared with Auckland.

"It's selling that whole work, live, buy [in Rotorua] thing."

Ms Kai Fong said the city would be buzzing over the whole weekend and she had been talking to CBD businesses about making the most of it, right from the Thursday when visitors began arriving in town.

That included putting extra staff on and staying open longer hours where possible, while banks were preparing to restock their ATM machines more regularly over the weekend, she said.

"If people have a really good time then hopefully people will want to come back."

For information about exhibiting at the expo email or call Sandra Kai Fong on 027 283 6080. There is a fee for exhibitors although that may be negotiable for community groups.