Annual Expo! Expo! features rousing keynotes and dynamic trade show

Inspiring keynotes, a lively trade show, buoyant entertainment and informative education sessions highlighted the International Association of Exhibitions and Events annual gathering in Anaheim last month.

The 2016 IAEE Expo! Expo!, which took place Dec. 6–8 at Anaheim Convention Center (ACC), attracted more than 2,300 people, including 262 exhibitors.

The opening-night party was truly memorable. It included an open bar featuring fine wines and cocktails; an assortment of food trucks serving traditional to exotic foods from around the world; and an outstanding, high-energy performance by rising star Andy Grammer and his band. They were very talented and upbeat…perfect for the occasion.

Keynote addresses at the event were outstanding. At the opening session on Dec. 6, the speaker, acclaimed artist Phil Hansen, told his personal story of needing to forge ahead in his career despite having to deal with perhaps an artist’s worst nightmare: an incurable, shaky hand. Rather than abandon his artistic career, he embraced his limitation, finding that it enabled him to pursue new types of projects.

He became more successful than ever, and is a vivid example of someone not merely overcoming an obstacle, but using it to open new avenues. The audience was deeply absorbed with his story, which had a message that can apply to everyone.

The other keynote address, delivered by Srinivas Rao, also included a captivating personal story. After being rejected by many business schools and fired from several sales jobs, Rao decided to stop doing what he thought he was supposed to do and start working at something that felt personally meaningful.

He launched the Unmistakable Creative Podcast, on which he has interviewed some of the greatest minds in business—including Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Pam Slim, Elle Luna and Ryan Holiday. Based on his inspiring story, Rao wrote a book, Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best, in which he encourages people to create unmistakable work that no one can replicate, thereby eliminating competition.

The Anaheim event also included dozens of educational opportunities—consisting of one-hour gatherings as well as several 15-minute campfire sessions—and facility tours.

“The sustainability and security tour of the ACC was a big hit, with over 100 people attending,” says Nicole Bowman, vice president of marketing for IAEE. “They had to break the tour into four groups. We are producing a case study on this initiative in the first quarter of 2017.”

A backstage tour of the general session in which participants were able to get an inside look into the event also was very popular.

Trends Report Update

During the event, IAEE released an updated version of a white paper, Future Trends Impacting the Exhibitions and Events Industry, created by the IAEE Future Trends Task Force. Originally released in 2013, the report discusses major trends that will impact the industry during the next three years.

One of the most significant highlights of the report is that speech-bots, Internet of Things, virtual reality, augmented reality and 5G wireless technology that will increase smartphone speeds up to 400 percent will dominate the future. These new technologies are expected to have a major impact on exhibitor marketing techniques and the need for trade shows to keep pace with the technologies, the report says.

“Updates in the 2016 edition address the areas of data quality and converting the data obtained into business strategies and plans,” said Frances J. Freedman, chair of the task force and president of Time & Place Strategies, Inc. “Data security is also becoming an even more urgent concern for the industry, given the significant risk in data hacking. Physical security at venues and contingent plans to manage a potential threat are also an increasingly important aspect of managing an exposition or event.”

Based on the report, Freedman said that the industry will need to upgrade teaching and learning approaches—including technology—to engage the vast array of attendee learning styles as demographics continue to change.

The report also notes the exhibition and events industry’s concerns about future global economics, and forecasts many changes: Exhibitions will increase their use of marketing and sales technologies, and the events industry will keep facing significant challenges in every aspect of producing trade shows and generating audience engagement.

A Dynamic Tri-City Collaboration

Expo! Expo! was held in Baltimore Convention Center in 2015 and is slated for Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio Nov. 28–30, 2017. The convention and visitors bureaus of the three cities—Visit Baltimore, Visit Anaheim and San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau—announced in 2014 the formation of Synchronicities, a three-city partnership designed to assist meeting professionals in maximizing return on investment.

Baltimore, Anaheim and San Antonio distributed surveys to meeting professionals and worked to shape Synchronicities into a partnership to deliver value and resources to them. The cities are partnering with IAEE, PCMA, Association Forum of Chicagoland and other organizations.

“Synchronicities provide meetings professionals with a comprehensive solution when considering events in different parts of the country,” said Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim, when the collaboration was formed. “Senior leadership from all three destinations has dedicated the time and resources to make our solution very valuable for planners, and we are seeing results from our joint effort.”