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As November draws to a close, hundreds of tradeshow professionals will again make that familiar trip to Las Vegas. However, the major convention centers won’t be their destination and they will not be greeted by anxious clients awaiting their arrival.

This pilgrimage is for ACCESS 2011, the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association’s (EDPA) Annual Conference and Showcase. Hundreds of owners, operators and senior leadership from exhibit houses, event agencies and design studios will be on-hand for the event, located at the J.W. Marriot Las Vegas Resort and Spa from Nov. 30 – Dec. 2.

This year, the theme for ACCESS 2011 is Beyond Your Borders, insights and ideas for growing your business in the new economy.

“Simply put, your attendance at ACCESS 2011 is critical to explore ways for your business to expand beyond its current borders and for the long-term strength of the EDPA and our industry,” said Rob Cohen, president of the EDPA in a letter to the industry. “By joining us at ACCESS 2011, you will have exposure to outstanding education, unsurpassed networking opportunities and a relaxed environment to explore conversations with designers, producers, general service contractors and suppliers.”

For ACCESS 2011, those relaxed environments include Lake Mead for a striped bass fishing tournament and the Tournament Players Club Las Vegas golf course for an open scramble tournament. Both events will take place on Nov. 30 at 7 a.m.   

Each year, the EDPA tries to balance the content provided to its attendees with these networking opportunities. Daily events provide a consistent framework for industry conversations, and evening events ensure guests have more than enough time to mix, mingle and talk business after the sun goes down.

According to Jeff Provost, executive director of the EDPA, post-show surveys always point to these gatherings as a huge benefit to the attendees.

“The number one reason people attend ACCESS is the networking,” said Provost. “They really value the face-to-face networking and the opportunity to be among their peers and exchange ideas for these three days each year.”

To get the most out of their networking time together, attendees at ACCESS can also attend a new speed networking event. This interactive session will offer 25 different exhibitors/sponsors the opportunity to meet with 25 different industry buyers. During this program, the buyers will spend two minutes with each exhibitor discussing their top business challenges to gain fresh insight to the industry.

The Beyond Your Borders theme of ACCESS also carries over to the selection of China as the featured country. ACCESS will feature multiple sessions on doing business in China, along with panel discussions on picking Asian suppliers and partners for the design and build phase of exhibiting.

“Of all the places outside the U.S., China has seen phenomenal growth,” said Provost. “So one of the reasons we chose the Beyond Your Borders theme is because where ever business is being drawn up here in the states, we are hoping our designer/producers will learn about some of the new ideas we have about ways they can extend their business. China is really where the growth is.”

ACCESS will also host a number of high-level executives from Asian companies looking to partner with U.S. exhibit houses.

Another component of ACCESS are the practical education sessions. Once again this year, ACCESS will break these meeting periods into an internal and external track.

The external educational track will extend the Beyond Your Borders theme and attempt to bring attendees out of their business comfort zone. Sessions in this track focus on new business opportunities including designing retail experiences, the hybrid exhibit trend and greener exhibiting.

The internal track will discuss business topics such as taxes, insurance and legal issues.

“Those are all bell ringers for CFOs and top financial brass for these companies,” said Provost.

ACCESS will also feature daily keynotes that offer insights into building more effective companies, as well as case studies and topical conversations that will also give attendees access to leading thinkers in the industry.

“Attendees are going to take away a new perspective on the marketplace,” said Provost. “We are trying to expand their vision within the tradeshow industry, but also within their company. It is like with any good conference: If you walk away with a couple things you can implement into your business, then it was a success.”

Other events taking place at ACCESS 2011 include:

Wednesday, 5 – 6:00 p.m.: First-Timers Reception
Wednesday, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.: Supplier Showcase Preview Reception
Wednesday, 8:30 – 10:00 p.m.: China-Themed Welcome Reception
Thursday, 6:30 – 10:30 p.m.: Silent Auction & President’s Gala
Friday, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.: Poolside Closing Reception

Click here for Access 2011 Schedule at a Glance



For updates about what’s happening at ACCESS 2011, follow Exhibit City News on Twitter. We’ll be tweeting live from the show floor!

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