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Cultivating Crowds is Topic of Fastest 50 Panel


Oceanside, CA – There’s more than one way to draw a crowd and a session added to the TSE Fastest 50 will explore the path to higher attendance.

And the discussion won’t be about “modest” attendance growth. The topic is those double-digit registration spikes that delight exhibitors and land a show organizer on the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Fastest 50.

Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, president of Marketing Design Group in San Diego, will moderate “Achieving Record Gains in Attendance – How Did They Do It?” an in-depth discussion with the organizers who have quickly and dramatically turned their shows into “must-attend” events in their industry sectors. Hardcastle-Geddes too has been on the fast track in the trade show industry. She received TSE’s Marketing Genius Award at the 2010 TSE Gold 100 Awards & Summit.

Panelist Sacha Carey, director, exhibition sales and operations for the Water Environment Federation, is one such show manager who will join Kimberly on the stage at the May 20-22 TSE Fastest 50 Awards & Summit. Carey will share her experiences with the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition & Conference, which last year drew nearly 23,000 attendees, a 30% increase over the previous year.

Attendance growth is one of three categories for the Fastest 50, which salutes the shows of all sizes that have turned in the highest percentage increases in exhibit space, number of exhibitors and people in the aisles. The awards for the top shows in these and other categories of achievement will be presented at the gala awards banquet at the landmark Hyatt Regency Chicago.


Generating a public-relations buzz outside the convention center is a sure fire way to fire up prospective attendees. The panel on Fast Talk features Hugh Forrest, director for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, who scored a high-profile coup by brining notorious secrets-spillers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden to SXSW via a video feed watched by thousands. Forrest will discuss how he and his team pulled it off and what has the feedback and fallout been.  Fast Talk, a fast-paced session which highlights innovative ideas and solutions to burning issues, will also feature Chris Nemchek, senior VP of business development and member relations of the Specialty Food Association, speaking about driving international participation. In addition, Heidi Vorhees, senior vice president of housing for Experient, and a  member of the Convention Industry Council (CIC)’s APEX Room Block Poaching Workgroup, will discuss strategies to counter poaching in hotel room blocks. Megan Tanel, vice president of exhibitions & events for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and IAEE Chair-Elect, will drum up support for IAEE’s Exhibitions Day coming up June 16-17 in Washington, DC. It is a forum for trade show organizers to meet and greet members of Congress and convince them of the importance of trade shows to the national economy and the well-being of the cities and states they represent. Tanel will also urge delegates to speak with elected representatives about the visa process, maintaining the popular International Buyers Program, and easing the restrictions on travel by government employees.

Other informative sessions include:

  • Keynote speaker Amber Macarthur, one of the leading experts on marketing campaigns based on social media. Already a veteran of the digital arena, Amber Mac has plenty of sage advice on innovation and adaptation in this critical area.
  • Francis Friedman, chair of IAEE’s Future Trends Task Force, gives an update on the new technology in use on the show floor and what’s just over the horizon.
  • The noon hour features the Leaders & Legends Power Lunch interview. The guest of honor is Johnnie White, immediate past chairman of the Professional Convention Management Association and the executive director for the Center for Education at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation. Darrell Denny, senior vice president of  Emerald Expositions, will be the guest host, speaking with Johnnie about his winning strategies.
  • Former television newsman Mark Bernheimer, currently founder of MediaWorks resource Center, leads a discussion on relations with the news media. He will also conduct one-on-one workshops to polish the TV presence of a select class of Fastest 50 attendees.


Watch for further updates on the agenda, which will be announced on the TSE website and via E-Clips Breaking News.

Registration for the May 20-22 Fastest 50 Awards & Summit is available at

Reach Diane Bjorklund, vice president of events, at (630) 312-8915 or

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