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Trade Show Trends...


The experts in convention and trade show planning keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s currently happening - and what’s to come - in the industry. They shared some of the trends they’re seeing at meetings and events,and what’s may be in store for attendees at their next trade show or convention. Here’s what’s“in”right now:


“Smaller trade shows,Wi-Fi requirements and third party lodging requests are all trending now,”said FredWise of the Ocean City Convention andVisitors Bureau. “In addi- tion, public shows are smaller and much less frequent.”


Karen Totaro,CFE,with the Atlantic City Convention Center, said the industry is seeing more interactive show floors. It’s no longer just rows and rows of booths; instead,dynamic and interactive activities on the show floor ensure that attendees spend an optimal amount of time there.


“We’re seeing the use of technology to enhance a meet- ing versus the fear of technology replacing meetings,” said Totaro. “The desire to have face-to-face interactions is stronger than ever,but now technology is being used to engage audience members. Attendees can go to a lec- ture and vote on an issue with their cell phones, provid- ing immediate feedback to the speaker.”


Another trend is that show planners create their own “apps”(applications) to help attendees master the


program and the city in which the event is taking place. Show apps allow attendees to visit the app store, request the name of the conference and install it. Once installed, it’s similar to having a conference program right on their phone,where attendees can find listings for ses- sions, room numbers and speakers. To make it even more convenient for attendees, some clients provide additional information, such as restaurants and maps of the convention center and of the surrounding area.


According to Totaro, there’s no longer a need to make paper programs, so attendees don’t have to carry them around. What’s more, these apps eliminate paper programs, saving millions of trees in the process.


KevinWillis of the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, said that planners require more technology than ever before.


“Planners also are looking for flexible,complete meeting packages (CMP) that allow for off-site meals,”saidWillis. “If a group is having breakfast, lunch,dinner and breaks all at the venue,planners sometimes like to go off prem- ise for a dinner or two. We need to be flexible enough to change our CMP to accommodate that.”


Willis also noted that, in terms of dining, the trend has been toward vegan,vegetarian and gluten-free options.


40 March  April 2015


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