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Seeing and experiencing products on the Expo! Expo! show floor

Intending to simplify the jobs of show organizers, meeting planners and exhibitors were various products and technology seen throughout Expo! Expo!, the annual meeting and exhibition from International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

Transportation Management Services' TRT truck
Transportation Management Services’ TRT truck

From Dec. 10-12 in Houston, Texas, at George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC), the event featured enhanced existing products or brand new items. To attract their target audience, exhibitors demonstrated their products’ effectiveness to attendees. Many attendees were IAEE members who are also show organizers and suppliers.

Transportation Management Services (TMS)

Owner of Horizon Coach Lines, the third largest private bus company in North America, Transportation Management Services (TMS) brought its Transportation Response Team (TRT) truck onto the show floor.

TMS TRT truckDebuting during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in July, the TRT communications vehicle combined Internet access and a smartphone app to provide real-time monitoring of 750 buses, which were used to transport more than 30,000 scouts from three airports to their remote event location in West Virginia.

“We used QR codes to check in each bus. Also, the top of the truck has a satellite dish that receives a signal and can boost Internet for a quarter-mile radius,” explained John D. Howell, sales manager of Eastern region, Transportation Management Services.

More specifically, the TRT truck can provide a Wi-Fi hotspot where the service is faster than a cell connection, according to TMS officials. In addition to Internet and VoIP, the truck also includes power and Direct TV that allows TMS to monitor current news. Experienced in rapid response situations due to its contract with Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), TMS provided disaster evacuation for Hurricanes Katrina, Isaac and Sandy.

“During Hurricane Sandy, we procured several buses in a 24-hour period,” added Howell.

When it comes to events, TMS specializes in evaluating traffic flow, vehicle usage, monitoring and allocating equipment, supervising drivers and resolving issues – all things the company put into action when providing services for two Olympic games, national political conventions, sporting events and more. Expo! Expo! allowed the company to discover more potential clients.

“We are targeting meeting planners with an expertise in citywide conventions,” said Howell.


TMS isn’t the only company targeting meeting planners as well as show organizers in general contractor Freeman’s case. The company demonstrated an enhanced version of its Web-based tool, PLANTOUR.

Part of the Freeman Technology Suite, PLANTOUR allows show organizers and meeting planners to virtually tour and choose venues for their next event.

Plantour photo 4Although the tool has existed for 14 years with Freeman regularly adding public assembly venues, the company did an overhaul of PLANTOUR as part of its plan to have the best in-class technological offerings, according to William Collins, vice president of product development at Freeman.

“[PLANTOUR] was built on a new platform, and it has a new look and feel. Customers can interact with it in a streamline matter,” added Collins. “When using the Freeman Technology Suite, the tool helps show organizers avoid logging into separate programs.”

Using one password and login, users can access key information about any of the 65 venues located on PLANTOUR.

“They can discover key sponsorship opportunities, such as where to hang banners and key rigging points,” said Collins. “Organizers can also have their own custom PLANTOUR website. With the old technology, it took up to two weeks for Freeman to build custom websites. Freeman can now build them in two days.”

This new technology also allows Freeman to track usage of the tool, something it couldn’t do previously, according to Collins.

“Thousands use it. We now know whose using it and how many times they’re using it,” added Collins.

 Plantour photoWith plans to multiply the amount of venues it showcases on PLANTOUR in 2014, Freeman knows it can’t completely eliminate on-site visits, according to Collins, but that doesn’t stop the company from working with its 70 or so other branches across the U.S. and Canada to scope out venues.

“It’s not a long process to add the information. For a large hotel in Anaheim, Freeman took 350 photos in half a day,” said Collins. “We plan to go back to existing facilities to refresh the information and bring them to the next level as well as add new ones.”

Although 90 percent of the venues shown on PLANTOUR are in the U.S., Freeman is adding more from Canada and Sweden. Last March, Freeman acquired the UK-based event services firm, The SO Group, which has now been rebranded as Freeman UK. Stepping into the UK market will allow Freeman to add UK venues to the tool in the future as well as accept Euros as currency.

a2z Inc.

Showing how it could make life easier for attendees on the Expo! Expo! show floor, a2z Inc., a provider of Web-based event management tools, unveiled its new ChirpE Mega Kiosk.

ChirpE Mega Kiosk“The kiosk is basically a giant iPad used for wayfinding,” explained Rajiv Jain, president and CEO, a2z Inc. “Business people are familiar with iPads, and they find it easy to use.”

True enough, since many attendees interacted with an app on the giant iPad by zooming in and finding exhibitors on the show floor. The ChirpE Mega Kiosk syncs in real-time with the a2zShow-powered event website, ChirpE Mobile Event App Solution, as well as the ChirpE 365 app. In addition, the kiosk allows a new revenue stream for show organizers by facilitating enhanced visibility to exhibiting companies as well as sponsors.

Global Experience Specialists (GES)

GES ConnectMaking a huge splash on the show floor with its advertising campaign – “The Art and Science of Engagement” – general contractor Global Experience Specialists (GES) drew crowds to its booth with a musician playing a massive harp that stretched toward the ceiling of the George R. Brown Convention Center, with another musician playing percussion on the walls of the booth.

“We launched the campaign the week of Expo! Expo! to promote enhancements to Expresso and GES Connect,” said Detra Page, public relations manager, GES. “We also are now offering our audio visual services directly to clients.”

GES provided on-site demonstrations of both its products. Expresso can be used by exhibitors on any device using one password. Exhibitors can now inquire about sponsorship opportunities, get a quote on custom graphics and logistics, book hotel rooms, receive notices about freight and more. GES Connect’s improved navigation allows event organizers to review and approve work orders and graphics, transfer orders from one show to the next and set up customized sponsorship opportunities.

AGILE, an AFR company

Expo Expo_AGILE_AFR_Ottoman A bit different from all the technology shown on the show floor, AGILE, an AFR company and provider of tradeshow and event furnishings, introduced furnishings coming out in 2014. The company especially highlighted the practicality of its Essentials Storage Ottoman for exhibitors.

“It was designed to be multi-functional and kill two birds with one stone,” said Jose Lopez, president, AGILE, an AFR company. “It’s easy to fit in a 10 x 10 booth; you have aesthetics and a place to store products.”

Just as important as showcasing the company’s furnishings, according to Lopez, was coming to Expo! Expo! to advocate, support and thank the tradeshow industry and exhibitors who are AGILE’s customers.

Since 1993, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) has provided Expo! Expo! for show managers. The annual meeting and exhibition also offers educational sessions counting toward the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation.

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