Baltimore, MD – Baltimore was booming in December as more than 1,000 trade show organizers along with scores of their friends and partners convened for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Annual Meeting & Exhibition.
Better known as Expo! Expo!, the event kicked off the holiday season by giving show organizers, venues, tech firms and other service providers their annual opportunity to socialize, network and start looking ahead to the 2016 show calendar.
“Every year, Expo! Expo! brings together a diverse group of leading professionals from the global exhibitions and events industry for intense networking in three action-packed days,” said David DuBois, president of IAEE.
The three days at the Baltimore Convention Center proved to be an irresistible draw å attendees from the entire gamut of the industry. Attendance was estimated at more than 2,328, a 4.6% increase over the 2014 Expo! Expo! The number of show organizers in attendance was up 12.4% over the previous year at 1,050.
There was plenty of new technology and tempting venues for organizers to look over on the show floor, which established a new show record of 39,100 net square feet. There were 269 exhibitors present, including 40 first-time participants.
Technology was again in the forefront of Expo! Expo! There were plenty of booths offering a look at the latest in interesting event software, apps and other appealing innovations. The popular Tech Startup area hosted 14 rising companies that could become household names within the industry in the not-too-distant future.
It wasn’t all booths, however. The show itself launched Connect, an a2z, Inc. creation linking the Expo! Expo! website with BizConnect and a Hosted Buyer Program. “Connect is designed to deliver relevant content to the audience, help them build connections and create communities with like-minded professionals,” said Rajiv Jain, president and CEO of a2z. “Our goal is to increase the value of the event for attendees and exhibitors by providing them with a toolkit so they are more effective before, during and after the event.”
The show floor also offered opportunities for attendees to meet informally and in small groups with technology providers and experts in a special area dubbed the Tech Swim-Up Bar. The idea of this relatively intimate setting, which has been adapted by various shows other than Expo! Expo!, is to allow potential customers to ask questions and discuss their individual needs with the vendor rather than sit through a more-formal session.
The agenda featured more than 70 educational opportunities, including the well-attended look at data collection. A series of Campfire meetings on the show floor covered a variety of topics, such as contract negotiations, industry trends and a preview of the “Exhibitions Mean Business” public relations campaign that will launch in the Summer.
The spotlight also shined on some of the luminaries of the industry. Julia Smith, senior vice president of Global Experience Specialists (GES), was announced as chairperson of the IAEE Board of Directors for 2016 (see sidebar).
Students Shannon Tavares, Delia Wang and Ryan Wiebe received the Helen Brett Scholarship awards to continue their education toward a career in events and exhibitions. The annual Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund grants were presented to Necoya Tyson, senior operations manager, National Trade Productions, Inc.; Alleeshia Williams, assistant manager, Registration & Services, National Restaurant Association; and Dean Gunningham, director or Complete Exhibitions in South Africa.
DuBois’ promise of “intensive networking” also held up. The various receptions held during the event were too many to count, and GES hosted 410 attendees at the seventh annual Humanity Rocks concert, which raised $21,500 for the OneBaltimore charity.
DuBois and Smith both predicted that 2016 would be a banner year for the trade show industry, which will help make the 2016 Expo! Expo! on December 6-8 in Anaheim as memorable an experience as the one provided by Baltimore.