Weekly News & Insights: Two Trailblazing Shows Reap the Results


(Click to view full-size infographic from PACK EXPO)

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, shows were struggling to survive. These days, it seems show after show is setting records for attendance, exhibit space, or both. So what are the keys to these shows’ success?

PACK EXPO, which wrapped up earlier this month in Chicago, joined forces this year with a new show, Pharma EXPO. Both events featured processing and packaging solutions and attracted nearly 50,000 attendees to over 1.2 million square feet of exhibits. In addition to the exhibits, there were 143 educational sessions (many offered free) on the show floor at the Innovation Stage, the Food Safety Summit Resource Center, The Reusables Learning Center, and The Center for Trends and Technology where attendees could discover ideas to improve their businesses. In addition, there were industry-specific networking lounges such as the Beverage Cooler Lounge, hosted by the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT) which presented two daily educational sessions addressing critical issues for beverage manufacturers.

“PMMI has made a point of bringing education to the show floor. It keeps attendees learning — from the leading innovations they’re seeing around them as well as from the experts presenting sessions throughout the exhibit halls,” said Maria Ferrante, vice president, Education and Workforce Development at PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the owner and producer of PACK EXPO International. “Attendees appreciate the first-hand information on the latest technologies and the convenience of these sessions being located at the front of the hall.”

Meanwhile in Las Vegas at the SEMA Show, hosted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, more than 140,000 industry professionals gathered from 130 countries to view products from 2,400+ exhibitors. Because the SEMA Show is a trade-only event, auto enthusiasts have previously gathered outside the Las Vegas Convention Center to sneak a peek at the unique customized vehicles as they exit the building at the close of the show. But not this year!

For the first time, the show offered SEMA Ignited, a celebrity extravaganza for fans to publicly view the vehicles after the show closed at the LINQ Promenade, Vegas’ new open-air entertainment district. This followed the SEMA Cruise, a parade of hundreds of vehicles featured on the show floor. The Friday night event not only offered consumers a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the vehicles, but also allowed for nationwide media coverage, including on-site taping of a broadcast special with best-of-show award winners.

Want to learn more about trailblazing shows and their secrets for success? Watch for a new podcast series profiling some of the most successful trade shows and how they got to where they are – Coming in 2015!

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.


    • By Marlys Arnold

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