The Future and the French Quarter Highlight Expo! Expo!

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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New Orleans, LA – New Orleans has always been a welcoming mix of the old and the new, which makes the Crescent City a perfect host for Expo! Expo!, an event where attendees will find plenty of cutting-edge innovations and old-fashioned networking opportunities.

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) will host thousands of trade show organizers and managers, association executives, top contractors and vendors at the annual pre-holiday get together December 7-9.

The event returns to New Orleans and the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – with some spillover into the nearby historic French Quarter considered likely. But even for those visitors who never leave the comfortable confines of the center and its 1.1 million net square feet of prime exhibit space, the New Orleans experience will be both enjoyable and educational.

“We have scheduled a series of compelling topics in specific tracks that will accommodate neophytes and experts,” said Daniel McKinnon, executive vice president of Messe Frankfurt North America and chair of the IAEE Education Committee. “Education is critical to improving your position in this difficult environment, so we hope everyone will take advantage of as many presentations as possible.”

The theme of this year’s Expo! Expo! is “Innovation Unmasked.” And the rapid pace of technology melded with globalization and a game-changing economic upheaval make it timelier than ever.

Virtually each educational track touches on new ways of doing things in the exhibition industry. Sessions will focus on new hardware and software, marketing and operational strategies that put these tools to work, and the best ideas for translating efforts into increased attendance and sales of booth space and sponsorships.

The setting will bring leaders of all aspects of event planning together under one roof. That promises to generate some terrific tweets, blogs and podcasts as well as fodder for face-to-face feedback from the diverse and knowledgeable audience.

Best Bets

Some of the sessions will feature industry leaders and topics that are on the top of the priority list for many trade show organizers and managers.

·  Art of Social Media:  The market is buzzing with new ways to use the social media platforms that are becoming the standard in the exhibition industry. The panel will look at using Facebook and Flickr during the show and Twitter-based activities that will keep attendees engaged with the show and its exhibitors via their Smartphones. There will also be discussions on ways to monetize social media, such as including tweets in sponsorship packages. The panel includes: Denise Quashie, director, Meeting Expectations; Cheryl Lawson, CEO, The Perfect Date; Liz King, owner of Liz King Events; and Eric Lukazewski, director of marketing for Echelon Design.

·  Events without Borders: Trade show leaders look at the latest options for organizers looking to extend their brand overseas or boost international participation in U.S. events. The panel will discuss the use of pavilions, sponsorships and co-locations. There will also be a year-end industry review. The session takes place December 8 at 9:45 a.m. The panel includes: Bob Dallmeyer, president of RD International and Trade Show Executive columnist; Peter Nathan, president of PWN Exhibition International LLC; Sandy Angus, chairman of Montgomery Worldwide; Megan Tanel, vice president of exhibitions for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Jerry Kallman, managing director of Kallman Global Consulting, Inc.; and Patricia Farias Barlow, president and CEO of Farias Global Expos.

·  Visa Issues: The time and effort required for international customers to obtain visas for U.S. trade shows has vexed show organizers for years. The session focuses on the status of efforts to improve the situation and tactics for recruiting overseas attendees and exhibitors from high-priority nations. The panel will include: Bob Dallmeyer; Megan Tanel; IAEE President Steven Hacker; Tom Cindric, group director for Hanley Wood Exhibitions; and Aaron Rodgers, director of Invest America, U.S. Department of Commerce.

·  Don’t Send your Trade Show to a Landfill: Green is not forgotten despite the focus on the economy. This session looks at measuring and benchmarking green practices to maximize recycling, conserve water and reduce the amount of waste generated by trade shows. The panelists include: Rhiannon Jacobsen, director of the Greenbuild Sponsorship and Exhibition for the U.S. Green Building Council; Carol Ingersoll, VP of national accounts for Global Experience Specialists (GES); Taryle Spain, director of client services for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; and Lori Jenks, VP of operations for Nielsen Business Media.

·  Improving and Measuring Attendee and Exhibitor Experience: Both are demanding more and want solid predictions that their investments will pay off. The session looks at technologies such as RFID, video analysis and mobile applications. The panel includes: Terence Donnelly, vice president of trade show markets for Experient; Dave Fellers, president of Dave Fellers Consulting; Jay Tokosch, CEO of Core-Apps; and Doreen Biela, senior planner of meetings and events for McDonald’s.

·  Leveraging Technology Tools: The old rule of thumb is that gadgets designed to make things easier can be tough to figure out. Show organizers have been peppered with announcements and sales pitches for technology that are both versatile and mystifying. This session prepares managers to make sound judgments on the value these tools offer their organizations. Panelists are: Bob Priest-Heck, president and CEO of Wheelhouse Solutions, and Kimberly Lewis, VP of conferences and events for the U.S. Green Building Council.

Early Start

The educational sessions get underway after some preliminary events that should not be missed. The official opening of Expo! Expo! is December 7, but the day before will be busy as well. Along with move-in at the exhibit hall, there is a full day of CEM courses sponsored by Freeman. The CEM schedule covers event operations, site selection, exhibit sales, risk management and other topics. The CEM Advanced Institute will take place Tuesday.

Tuesday also features the opening general session where the latest graduating class of CEMs will be introduced to their current and future colleagues. Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, will deliver the keynote address that officially begins the proceedings.

Lots of Work, Lots of Fun

Tuesday evening’s opening general session, sponsored by GES, will be followed in short order by the always-popular opening reception. The reception runs until 9 p.m. at Generations Hall, one of the historically important jazz venues in a city synonymous with the art form.

Wednesday’s social calendar includes the Humanity Rocks event at the House of Blues with music provided by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. There will also be hospitality events sponsored by individual exhibitors. One not to miss is the fiesta thrown by the Mexico Tourism Board with Trade Show Executive as the exclusive media sponsor.

The event closes out Thursday night on the banks of the Mississippi with the annual closing party at the Hilton Riverside.

New Orleans gladly hosts a party every night, and Expo! Expo! will be a memorable one for the city and for the trade show industry.

Other Industry Groups Huddle at Expo! Expo!

As long as they are in town, the boards of other prominent industry associations have scheduled meetings on the sidelines of Expo! Expo!

The leadership of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and the Exhibition Service Contractors Association (ESCA) have meetings scheduled in New Orleans in conjunction with the main event.

  • The board of directors of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) will meet December 6 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Hilton Riverside.
  • The IAEE and CEIR boards will then hold their annual luncheon at the Hilton Riverside from noon until 2 p.m on December 6. The luncheon is sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board.
  • The CEIR board will meet at the Hilton Riverside from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on December 6.
  • The ESCA Annual Business Meeting and reception will take place at 6 p.m.  on December 6 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
  • The SISO Board of Directors and the Exhibition Industry Foundation Board of Trustees will meet at the convention center December 7 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Reach IAEE President Steven Hacker at (972) 458-8002 or shacker@iaee.com; Douglas Ducate, president & CEO of CEIR, at (469) 574-0686 or dducate@ceir.org; Larry Arnaudet, ESCA executive director, at (469) 574-0698 or larrya@augustagroup.com; SISO Executive Director Lew Shomer at (310) 450-8831, x106 or lshomer@shomex.com