One of our favorite things to do as travel editors is to return the year after a hard-hat tour to see a new or newly revamped venue in action. It was such a treat this week to participate in Northwest Event Show at the new, LEED Platinum-certified Seattle Convention Center Summit Building, as a reported 2,000 people in the regional industry gathered for two days to discuss everything from event technology trends to sustainable business practices. 

The Event Industry Experience 

two people on stageThe Northwest Events Show celebrated its 30th year in the one-year-old new addition to Seattle Convention Center’s Arch building while marking the passing of the trade show’s founder Marion Clifton, who died in December. Northwest Event Show President Stuart Butler, who purchased the program in 2018 and has been operating transportation specialists Butler Seattle for almost 30 years, announced that a grant was being set up in Clifton’s name through SEARCH Foundation and Fill It Forward, the reusable bottles that track philanthropy and CO2 emission savings through a QR code.  

“Marion’s vision has been a guiding light for NWES,” says Butler. “Her legacy of innovation and community has profoundly shaped the Pacific Northwest event industry. Through initiatives like these, we aim to keep her spirit alive.”

The trade show, education and networking kicked off with a reception at Climate Pledge Arena and an overview of its innovative sustainability operations and catering program. It included a Quiet Room for anyone needing a break from the hustle, including those sensitive to sensory overload. Closed captioning through Interprefy offered real-time accessibility on all stages.  

“This is about community and moving the industry forward,” as Butler put it.  

 A Global Spotlight 

The city shared its blueprint for bringing one of the largest stages in the world to town in 2026. Kelly Saling, senior vice president and chief sales officer with Visit Seattle, predicted that hosting six FIFA World Cup soccer matches (football, to the rest of the world) over three weeks will draw as many 750,000 fans to the area and send images of the Emerald City to billions of viewers around the world. 

Read More: Notes from the Road: Seattle

 April Putney, Seattle FIFA World Cup 2026 vice president of external affairs and transportation, noted that work is already underway to upgrade infrastructure that will leave an improved legacy in the city, which has worked more than a decade to convince organizers to include it in the North American spectacle.A total of 104 games will be played between June 11, 2026, and the final on July 19 in New Jersey; in all, 48 teams will play across 16 host cities in Canada, the United States and Mexico.  

Beth Knox, president and CEO of Seattle Sports Commission, reminded us that while this event will be on a larger scale and will include the entire region, the city has been successful before in hosting signature sports events, including the 2018 Special Olympics she personally managed (and won Meeting Professional of the Year for on the cover of Smart Meetings Magazine that year).  

Experience Boosters 

Dan Gingiss, keynoter, author, podcaster and chief experience officer at his company, The Experience Maker, kicked off the conversation about making an impression on attendees with his formula for “Getting WISE About Customer Experience at Your Events.” His more thoughtful—but not necessarily more expensive—approach calls for designing programs that are Witty, Immersive, Shareable and Extraordinary.  

Read More: How to Produce a Stand-out Experience

What does that look like? When thinking about F&B, gifting and decor, consider the normal solution and then do the opposite, he advises. That could look like self-personalization with DIY stations or local talent that pulls at the heartstrings instead of the expected entertainment.  

“The secret is to put the attendee first,” he says.