It Was All About Connections at 2017 IAEE’s Expo! Expo! in San Antonio

December 5, 2017

Getting together face-to-face was the primary goal of the 2017 IAEE Expo! Expo! Annual Meeting and Exhibition, which took place Nov. 28–30 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

The show focused on making connections, both with fellow attendees and with education sessions that ran on three tracks: researched-informed, data-guided and experience-designed.

There were several new features for this year’s show. These included the Tech Start Up Competition, sponsored by Visit Austin and the Austin Convention Center; the CEIR Research Sneak Peek & Luncheon, sponsored by TAITRA and supported by SISO and IAEE; the Women’s Leadership Experience, sponsored by Experien; Cocktails and Content, sponsored by Experient; Communal Learning and Networking Experience and a featured VR Experience, produced by Feathr.

And, since the show took place during the start of the holiday season, Expo! Expo! also focused on the season of giving and supported Boysville, a local charitable organization in San Antonio.

The GES sponsored Humanity Rocks drew Expo! Expo! attendees to a fun party featuring the Spazmatics that raised $15,000 for the Boysville charity.

Newly named Pit Stop Sessions (formerly Campfire Sessions) were a popular feature, giving a quick-fire learning experience on the show floor to attendees. The Pit Stop Sessions focused on tips for a better work life experience with such topics as Making a Better LinkedIn Profile.

“There have been a lot of new features to the show this year and have been a great addition,” said Susanne Hallencreutz, marketing director of the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre Group. “In particular, the CEIR Research Sneak Peek was very enlightening.  It has also been great to connect with new and returning attendees.” 

The educational sessions brought several experts to the show. One popular session was given by Chief Instigator David Saef of GES.

This session, entitled Sponsorship 2020: Sell More, Push Boundaries, Deliver on ROI, reviewed ways to improve on sponsorship offerings by show organizers.

Using data, Saef looked at common misconceptions regarding why exhibitors look at sponsorship opportunities (exhibitors want help with brand awareness and generating more booth traffic) and how sponsorships should be viewed as an experience versus a commodity item.

There were two general sessions that attracted the entire show population. Keynote and Motivational Speaker Ryan Estis spoke on how companies should be putting people first in their organizations and they will see performance and value follow. He also spoke about reaching your ‘evangelists’ as they are a company’s greatest growth opportunity.

Keynote Valorie Burton, founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute, focused on positive emotions, and how positive thoughts and emotions expands a person’s ability to deal with stress. She also discussed the four types of fears each of us has (failure, success, disapproval, losing control) and how that drives behavior and decisions.

Many attendees were very busy with the educational tracks. “I was happy with the tracks, but wish there were a few more session options in each,” said Cathy DeVries, CEM, exhibitions manager for SPIE and the International Society for Optics and Photonics.

She added, “But the education sessions, because they were at least an hour in length, did do a good deep dive into the subject matter. I am excited to see what sessions will be added to the show next year.”

There also were events to help attendees connect with each other off the sho floor. There was a photo walk in the early morning to explore areas like the San Antonio River Walk and the Alamo.

Expo! Expo! Connect was available on the show app and allowed attendees to connect with buyers, sellers and peers at the event. And the opening day evening reception on the River Walk brought many of the show’s attendees out to enjoy the beautiful San Antonio weather.

Of course, no show would be complete without the exhibitor hall. During show hours, the hall was flowing with attendees looking to see the latest technologies and event offerings.

One company that had a unique trade show experience, demonstrating how technology works on the sho floor, was exhibitor and sponsor GES.

“We wanted to show attendees how Poken and Visit can be easily incorporated in such a way to make the attendee experience both customized and optimized,” said Wendy Gibson, executive vice president of Global Marketing.”

In the GES booth, several stations, including a smart badge wall, were in place to show the technology in action.

The show also saw many CEM graduates and a video of how CEM certification is used around the world, including countries such as Taiwan, Thailand and Mexico.

And the last day showcased an informal forum to Ask the Expert, Data Expert, Techy, Insurance Expert, App Expert, Industry Expert on Brain Science and Influence and Experience Expert.

Next year’s Expo! Expo! will be held Dec. 11–13 in New Orleans.

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