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Emerald Scores with International Gift Expo of the Smokies, Looks Ahead to Surf Expo

Frances Ferrante

NEW YORKEmerald’s successful International Gift Expo of the Smokies (IGES), held November 4-7 in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is a model for the company’s future shows as well as “a positive first step forward for our industry as a whole,” said Lori Silva, EVP of Emerald’s Retail Group.

IGES is the most comprehensive souvenir, resort, and specialty gift trade show in the U.S. Although, given current market conditions, including significant domestic and international travel restrictions, and in line with pre-market predictions, the number of exhibiting companies at this year’s 55th Annual event declined by 60%, buyer attendance was down only 30%, which resulted in a 75% boost in the attendee-to-exhibitor ratio. With 12 attendees per exhibitor, up from seven, scores from exhibitors were high.

On the buyer side, the ability to meet with key vendors and experience the latest trends in souvenir and novelty merchandise is critical to the success of their businesses. A highlight was the Product Preview Area, where vendors showcased their newest designs, which were voted on by the buyers.

Emerald also successfully illustrated how to produce a safe show — a model that will be followed by the company’s future events and is instructive for the entire industry. Before the event, an extensive Preparedness, Prevention & Response Plan was shared with attendees and exhibitors. Organizers worked closely with the City of Pigeon Forge, LeConte Center and their hotel partners to establish and implement safety initiatives, which included temperature screening, the required use of face masks at all times, and daily disinfection of all public areas.

Related. Emerald Releases Event Preparedness Plan

“Producing a safe and secure environment at IGES was our top priority, and we are extremely proud of the IGES team and our amazing partners for implementing a stringent health and safety plan that delivered a strong, productive show that demonstrated the power of our industry to forge ahead and overcome challenges,” said Silva.

Next up for Emerald is the Surf Expo show, which is scheduled to take place January 6-8, 2021, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The show will utilize the same safety measures, as will all Emerald events, and, along with IGES, will be the subjects of in-depth case studies by the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO). The release dates of the case studies have not yet been set, according to David Audrain, SISO Executive Director.

Reach Lori Silva at (323) 817-0068 or




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