IAEE’s Expo! Expo! Annual Meeting & Exhibitions Breaks Attendance, Showfloor Records in Baltimore

December 6, 2015

“Charm City” lived up to its name, and then some, when more than 2,500 attendees flocked to Baltimore, Md., last week for the International Association of Exhibitions’ Expo! Expo! Annual  Meeting & Exhibition 2015.

David DuBois, IAEE’s president and CEO, said that while the attendee numbers were unaudited at this time, they definitely broke records, with a 10-percent uptick, compared with last year’s event in Los Angeles.

“It’s the biggest one ever,” he added. “Being located in the Mid-Atlantic region brought in a lot of organizers from the Northeast and the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area. People really loved (Baltimore).”

Besides all-time high attendance, the showfloor at the Baltimore Convention Center also broke records, with 269 companies on a 41,000 net square foot showfloor.

“Hosting IAEE was a great opportunity for the City to showcase our compact convention campus and the value and attendee experiences afforded to both planners and attendees,” said Tom Noonan, president and CEO, Visit Baltimore.

He added, “Our congratulations go to the entire IAEE team for a record-breaking event in Baltimore. We were proud to partner with them and our Synchronicities partners, Anaheim and San Antonio, and look forwarding to continuing that partnership through 2017.”

Baltimore was the first part of a three-city stint for Expo! Expo! that next will go to Anaheim in 2016 and San Antonio, Texas, in 2017.

The event, which ran Dec. 1-3, was filled with networking and educational opportunities, including the annual joint session with IAEE and the Society of Independent Show Organizers.

This year’s session focused on key legal issues impacting the trade show industry, including hotel contracts, W-Fi and employees that are contractors.

Attorney Mark Roysner advised the audience of C-level show organizers to not sign hotel contracts at the same time as a venue contract that might be for a show that’s still 3-5 years out. “You could very quickly after 3-5 years turn out upside down,” he added.

After the joint session, all of the IAEE attendees headed into the IAEE opening session that featured a keynote by Baltimore native and author Wes Moore.

“You have no idea how much your selection of Baltimore means,” Moore said. “We’re proud of our city and we’re proud to share it with the world.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was next on stage and read a proclamation naming Dec. 1-3 Exhibtions and Events Week during the event. 

The rest of the first day entailed the showfloor opening up to a aisles filled with attendees checking out all of the latest offerings, as well as the opening party at the Maryland Science Center later that evening.

The next morning was another keynote with Porter Gale, former vice president of marketing for Virgin America, as well as a morning filled with education sessions ranging from building a successful sponsorship program to maximizing attendance at events.

The showfloor opened once again and was even busier than the day before with attendees packing the booths to check out new technology, such as Experient’s eventBit and a2z, Inc.’s new Connect program, as well as destination offerings from places as far away as Singapore.

That evening, the annual Humanity Rocks: Celebration with a Cause, was held and the next day at the awards luncheon it was revealed that $21,500 was raised for the United Way of Central Baltimore and OneBaltimore, which was another record set at the event.

Also during the luncheon IAEE’s individual award winners were recognized, including Tony Lee, President and CEO of Tony Lee International, who received the Distinguished Service Award.

As her final act as the current IAEE chair, Megan Tanel passed the gavel to Julie Ward Smith, who will now serve until next year’s annual meeting.

“I have such a passion for this business …,” Smith said. “It’s certainly never boring and ever-changing.”

She asked the audience in joining her in focusing on three key issues: Talent Development, Review of Pay Practices and Volunteerism. Smith also encouraged everyone to get involved as an IAEE member and challenged them all: “How do we drive the change?”

As a big surprise during the luncheon, Tanel also presented Cathy Breden, IAEE's COO, with the Chairperson's Award. it was a well-kept secret within the IAEE organization, according to Tanel. 

"Seriously, this is really very special," Breden said. "This career has given me so much more back than I have given." 

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.