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ACCESS 2011: Highlights, award winners and photographs

ACCESS 2011, the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association’s (EDPA) Annual Conference and Showcase, recently ended its three-day run at the J.W. Marriot Las Vegas Resort and Spa. And although the final numbers are not yet known, the conference got off to a fast start, reaching 300 attendees much earlier than last year.

During the three-day event, attendees were engaged by educational sessions, keynote speakers, an industry supplier showcase and a number of networking events that would leave even the most social people in need of a quiet flight home.

Below is a photograph slideshow, as well as a few highlights and award winners from the event.

2010 EDPA Economic Survey Report
As part of the Down To Business learning track, Kelli Glasser, president and COO of Exhibit Concepts and a member of the EDPA Board of Directors, delivered a session on the 2010 EDPA Economic Survey Report. The session was titled Financial State of Affairs: Annual EDPA Economic State of the Union.

The data gathered for the survey was compared mainly to data from 2001, but did include year-over-year comparisons for the last decade. The 2010 data set included responses from 44 EDPA member companies.

Glasser also spoke about how companies can benefit from participating in this survey by comparing their economic results and growth with similar-sized businesses in the industry

“You can also provide data to clients,” said Glasser. “I have heard many people say ‘I use this study to tell my clients why my price increase isn’t so bad because it’s still consistent with industry averages.’”

Only companies that participate in the survey are given the results, so Glasser also noted that it was an excellent way benchmark and control expenses.

The presentation began with Glasser comparing revenue streams from 2001 to 2010. She quickly noted that new exhibits sales dropped from 27.9 percent to 19.2 percent of net sales for exhibit houses over that time period, although the audience seemed well aware of the numbers.

Other results that were shared during the session did raise a few eyebrows among the attendees. Most notable was that exhibit houses with less than $6.5 million in sales had a cheaper cost per square foot for inline exhibits than exhibit houses with sales that exceeded $25 million.

As the session ended, Glasser did speculate a little on how the numbers looked in 2010 compared to the last 10 years. What she found was that 2010 and 2005 have a lot of similarities based on the numbers and the respective states of the economy.

“And 2006, 2007 and 2008 were good years,” said Glasser. “It will be interesting to see if 2011, 2012 and 2013 will follow this upward trend.”

EDPA Award winners
At the President’s Gala and Silent Auction, the EDPA announced their 2011 Award recipients.

Starting with the Hazel Hays award, which recognizes significant contributions to the knowledge and literature of the tradeshow industry, the EDPA honored Charlie Corsentino, president and CEO of Moss Inc.

Alan Cordial of Calan Communications received the Ambassador award, which honors a member who has made an outstanding contribution to the organization and the industry as a whole.

From EFI Inc., Shawn Bicker won Designer of the Year, an award that honors someone who has helped enhance the professional standards of exhibit designers throughout the industry.

The Las Vegas Chapter of EDPA won the Chapter of the Year award for the third year in a row.

For the Eddie Award, which recognizes outstanding exhibit firms, agencies and suppliers, the EDPA honored Lynch Exhibits (printed matter), Steelhead (large tradeshow), GES (small tradeshow) and EEI Global (online program).

The EDPA also welcomed Cam Stevens, owner of Stevens Exhibit Design Group in Canada, as the first international president.

Final Keynote
On the last day of the conference, keynote speaker Doug Ducate, 30-year veteran of the tradeshow industry and president/CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), gave an informative address to the industry called “Where are we now, and where are we going?”

Ducate started off the keynote by stressing the fact that the industry must recognize the past in order to understand the future. The original CEIR Census, which hadn’t been done since 2000, was completed again in 2010 and gave researchers new insight into the meetings industry.

“As you know, we have not had a good 10 years,” said Ducate. “Anecdotally, you hear so many stories about what’s going on that you don’t know what to believe. The press takes a single event and extrapolates it to our entire industry. So Comdex goes out of business and the headline in the Chicago tribune is ‘Exhibition industry on the way out.’ The reality for us is that we knew we needed to present an accurate picture of how the industry is performing.”

In fact, Ducate revealed that there are 14,541 tradeshows and exhibitions each year in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This is more than 50 percent of all exhibitions in the world. And of the show organizers who put on these tradeshows, 67 percent are owned by associations, which creates an individualistic atmosphere for show organizers.

“The largest organizer in the country is Reed Exhibitions, and they have less than 4 percent of the business,” said Ducate. “The reality for us is that unlike hotels, GCs and exhibit builders, there is no 5,000-member organization to lead the industry in terms of what they do, show rules and regulations. Organizers operate independently as a cottage industry, and that makes it very difficult to come up with any kind of standardization of what you do and how you do it.”

Ducate then discussed the state of the industry in terms of economic health.

“After we hit the skids in ‘08 and ‘09, all 14 sectors of the industry operated in the negative,” he said. “It was the first time it’s ever done that. At the end of 2010, all 14 had returned to positive numbers. It’s a remarkable recovery in terms of where the economy was at that point in time.”

To predict the future growth of the industry, CEIR had to come up with a new formula based off of what happened in the past. Ducate mentioned that although the building and construction industries have notoriously pulled the U.S. out of recessions in the past, it is unlikely to happen this time around.

“It was the construction sector that led us into the recession,” he said. “And it’s so unlikely that the one who leads us in is going to be the one that leads us out.”

Ducate closed the session by turning the discussion toward the future of the tradeshow industry, including how to use social media and how to attract a younger audience to the realm of face-to-face marketing. There are roughly 80 million young professionals in the industry today, which is 20 million more than the baby boomers.

“How do we craft marketing messages that resonate with this group?” said Ducate. “‘Use social media carefully’ is probably one of the best lines that I’ve ever heard come out of a focus group. There’s a reason they call it social media: They use it for social purposes and don’t want to be marketed there. Don’t make the mistake of turning their social network into a marketing tool because they will reject it.”

Tournament winners
ACCESS 2011 kicked of with two networking events that have become very popular among the members.

The 2011 Almost Annual EDPA Fishing Tournament was won by Rick Bellerjeau, general manager of Momentum Management. Bellerjeau hauled in 40 fish from the waters of Lake Mead and won the Almost Annual award.

The other networking event was the Open Golf Scramble. More than 90 golfers participated in this year’s tournament, which was once again organized by Staci Barnes of Brumark.

Norm Friedrich of Octanorm announced the winners of the tournament prior to the closing keynote.


Hole in One

There was a memorable moment at the EDPA Golf Tournament. Christopher Clark of Riverview Systems Group Inc. hit a Hole In One to win the closest to the pin contest. Pictured here left to right are Craig Shelter of Dimensional Communications, Chris Clark and Joe Houle of LAB Exhibits.

The winners included:


1st Place with a score of 60:
John Rose, JC Rose and Associates
Scott Walode, ExhibitCraft
Ron Mercurio, Searle Exhibit Technologies
Fred Kong, Production Resource Group

2nd Place with a score of 62:
Gene Faut, 3D Exhibits
Bob Prihoda, 3D Exhibits
Nelson Corazzari, 3D Exhibits
Georgina Swallow, Assistant PGA Professional Golfer from the UK

3rd Place with a score of 64:
Michael Metzger, Zenith LaborNet
Russell Greenway, Zenith LaborNet
John Zimmerman, Zenith LaborNet
Kevin Nute, CORT Event Furnishings

The Longest Drive for the men was nailed by Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits.
For the women, Georgina Swallows blasted the longest shot off the tee.

The winner of the Closest to the Pin contest was Christopher Clark of Riverview Systems Group Inc. Clark’s shot was a hole-in-one.

“It was the purest pitching wedge I have ever hit,” said Chris. “It took me 25 years to get this one, and I hope it is a lot sooner until I get my next one.”

For more information on next year’s EDPA ACCESS event, which will be held November 28-30, 2012 in Palm Springs, Calif., please visit www.edpa.com.

Created with flickr slideshow.

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