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Not only do participants get to experience a new city each time International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) selects a host destination for its annual meeting and tradeshow, but also locals get the opportunity to learn more about the organization for show organizers and suppliers.

A2Z Inc. partnered with IAEE for three years.

A2Z Inc. partnered with IAEE for three years.

From city tours, hotels and restaurants, Expo! Expo! attendees make their presence known, and as usual, residents were intrigued about those who descended on their city.

One of the common questions continually asked by locals – as heard several times around Los Angeles from Dec. 9-11 – was “What is IAEE?” One meeting planner simplified Expo! Expo! for non-industry folks – “an expo for people working in the expo industry.”

For those closely connected to the tradeshow industry, the annual gathering means different things to everyone. Its value also lies in the varying experiences it brings attendees.

  • The hosts’ perspectives
Synchronicities is a three-city partnership.

Synchronicities is a three-city partnership.

IAEE re-selected Los Angeles to host Expo! Expo! after two decades, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and he added the show is expected to generate a $6 million economic impact.

Also expecting to benefit from the multi-million dollar impact the show will bring are future Expo! Expo! hosts Baltimore, Md.; Anaheim, Calif.; and San Antonio, Texas, which formed the marketing partnership Synchronicities. At the 2014 event, representatives from each city’s Convention Visitors Bureau detailed how they united to deliver a seamless show experience across the three destinations, promote their cities and services, and maximize ROI.

As Baltimore (Dec. 1-3, 2015), Anaheim (Dec. 6-8, 2016) and San Antonio (Nov. 28-30, 2017) wait to see the show’s impact on their cities, they still have much to plan.

Broadening the scope from a destination marketing organization’s or city’s perspective, exhibitions have already contributed $69 billion to the U.S. GDP, according to outgoing IAEE Chairperson Jonathan “Skip” Cox and incoming Chairperson Megan Tanel. Therefore, the annual event’s footprint could have far-reaching effects in the future.

  • The organizer’s perspective

As the owner and organizer of Expo! Expo!, IAEE created the perfect venue for its leadership to interact with members, recap much of the association’s year-long initiatives and campaigns as well as its growth.

This year, more than 1,000 show organizers attended Expo! Expo! – a figure Cox indicated to be a 25 percent increase from 2013.

He also noted that the association itself saw a 13 percent increase in membership and that global membership expanded by 20 percent. International membership growth is not without hard work as IAEE long ago launched a strategic plan to boost its presence worldwide. This also explains why 30 countries were represented at 2014 Expo! Expo! A few years ago, only 15 countries were represented, recalled David DuBois, president and CEO of IAEE.

Outgoing IAEE Chairperson Jonathan “Skip” Cox

Outgoing IAEE Chairperson Jonathan “Skip” Cox

Additionally, there was a 37 percent increase in international CEM attendance, complemented by the expansion of CEM classes in Brazil and Azerbaijan.

To continue as a player on the world’s stage, IAEE built on its 20-plus industry partnerships by signing five additional agreements with organizations representing Latin America (AFIDA), China (SCEIA), India (IEIA), Dubai (Nasaafir) and Thailand (TCEB).

Much of these collaborations allow IAEE to bring its CEM Learning Program to other parts of the world. The Freeman-sponsored program currently has 2,200 graduates worldwide including the 170 it gained at 2014 Expo! Expo!

Other major objectives for the association include giving back to the community and supporting its industry. Its annual charity — with co-host GES — Humanity Rocks: A Celebration with a Cause raised $21,000 for A Place Called Home, a Los Angeles-based organization that helps children and young adults.

Additionally, the Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund — founded in memory of its dynamic, well-loved and much-respected namesake – raised more than $50,000. The fund’s first recipient is Carol Krugman, chair, Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Events Management at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

  • Participant perspectives

Everyone has different agendas when coming to Expo! Expo! – educating, networking, exhibiting, speaking, teaching, etc.

For the show’s main target – organizers and planners – the gathering allowed them to improve their skillset by learning the latest information or rules and regulations at informative sessions. They also had the opportunity to find prospective vendors and suppliers.

A tour of the Los Angeles Convention Center during Expo! Expo!

A tour of the Los Angeles Convention Center during Expo! Expo!

Exhibitors represented their brands, showed off their latest products and gained prospective leads. Many exhibitors, such as a2z Inc. and ConventionPlanit.com, had already gained awareness on the show floor due to their recent partnerships with IAEE.

Many exhibitors kept their booths fully occupied during show hours: GES created a 360-interactive Oculus Rift experience. Freeman used its proprietary screen platform FXP | touch to create an augmented reality experience. Oscar & Associates captured views of the show floor and attention when it equipped a drone with a GoPro video camera. ASP brought forth familiar carnival games so attendees could win prizes.

Other show highlights included engaging speakers like Seth Mattison, founder and CEO of Futuresight Labs, and Robert Safian, editor and managing director, Fast Company as well as plentiful networking opportunities from IAEE, Singapore, Freeman, Edlen, Shepard Exposition Services and more.

  • Award winners’ perspectives

IAEE recognizes the movers and shakers of the industry as part of its annual awards program. Considered the highest honor, the Pinnacle Award is not given every year. This made it all the more special when Vinnie Polito, managing director at VP International, reached the Pinnacle.

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois and two others.

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois and two others.

Skip Cox delivered the chairperson’s award to Chris Brown, executive vice president of NAB. Cox explained his choice — “Chris never says no to a request and adds insight and value to anything he touches.”

Another major accolade went to Julie Smith, senior vice president of national sales for GES, who won the Woman of Achievement Award.

Further demonstrating its global presence, IAEE delivered two International Excellence Awards to Cherif Moujabber, president of Creative Expos Conferences, and International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

IAEE also honored many other members of the industry in additional award categories.

  • Momentum Management
  • Hill and Partners
  • ETA Transportation