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Anaheim: APEX – Airline Passenger Experience Association

APEX is the Airline Passenger Experience Association, and this “flight of fancy” was co-hosted with IFSA, the International Flight Services Association, represented more than 120 airlines and 250-odd vendors from in-flight entertainment to catering.  The APEX/IFSA Expo, we heard, is an event exclusive to experts and decision-makers “committed to elevating the level of the airline passenger experience around the world”.  Well, no problem there:  the passenger is “elevated” every time a flight takes off, typically to over 30,000 feet. Beyond that obvious fact, things can get complicated, given the flying public’s ceaseless quest for cheaper tickets and the airlines’ grim determination to keep turning a profit if they can.  These mutually inimical aims have been “resolved” by de-bulking seats and putting them closer together, which has recently created “war-zones” between passengers who recline their seats and passengers who don’t like the seat in front squishing their knees….

Los Angeles: Global Business Travel Association – GBTA

GBTA is the Global Business Travel Association, and their Los Angeles beano claims to be the largest gathering of business travel buyers in the world, enabling travel companies to put their brand in front of close to 1,500 business travel buyers.  This included a chance to reach the world’s largest gathering of Fortune 100 business travel buyers, we heard.  The average travel spend among buyers hovered around the $84 million mark, so there was real money involved.  There were education sessions designed to update convention attendees on a variety of topics including management skill development, sourcing and procurement, the global marketplace, and business strategy.  One well-attended session was titled A Numbers Game: Using Strategic KPIs to Demonstrate Value of Travel Management to Senior Management.  Uh… KPIs?  That’s Key Performance Indicators to you and me, pilgrim….  #GBTA2014

GBTA2014: The only place that sucks my battery life more than Tuscany

GBTA2014: The only place that sucks my battery life more than Tuscany

Las Vegas: Home Based Travel Agent Forum – OSSN TravelShow Marketing Group

The Home Based Travel Agent Forum is an event specifically designed to cater to the
ever-growing channel of professional home-based and independent travel agents. The Forum is held in partnership with the Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN), the industry’s leading organization serving the home based community for over 20 years, with an active membership comprising nearly 8,000 travel agents and a reach to over 40,000 professional travel agents throughout the world. The Forum typically attracts over 1,500 travel agents from 46 States and Canada, representing the largest gathering of home based travel agent
professionals under one roof. Exhibiting companies include airlines, cruise lines, destinations, hotel and resort chains, tour operators, travel insurance companies, villa holiday packagers, attractions….  So, how did delegates get to the show?  Well, gee, there was a certain amount of travel involved…

Vegas: Hospitality Week 2014: Nightclub & Bar Show + Catersource + Pizza Expo

1st let me just state for the record I think these 3 shows should combine. There is a  precedent  “Expo Design Week” that included the Exhibitor Expo, Global Shop & ASD/AMD Spring;  “Design Build Week” moving the May show KBIS (Kitchen & Bath) to coincide with the International Builder’s Show (IBS2014) and Vision Expo – which is window coverings and the ever popular FWLV – with all the apparel shows wrapped into one week.  Since the NCBShow is the most expensive badge, add a few dollars on to it – say charge 150 and it covers all 3 shows. And even if you don’t do this, could you stagger your hours so that we can at least get a morning or an afternoon at each of the other shows on the expansive list. With movie theaters looking to expand their offerings to more adult fare like cocktails, gourmet pizzas & event based nights out, perhaps even adding NATO aka CinemaCon to the offerings might be advisable. More bang for the Exhibitors buck! And if you do so: We at Beyond-the-Booth should get lifetime trade show passes. Just saying.

Fresh off our night at CinemaCon we sprang up on Tuesday to rush over to the LVCC ready to see what is the newest in culinary, cocktail & pizza offerings. Starting with the keynote at the Pizza Expo – was  Donatella Arpaia, frequent judge on Food Network’s Iron chef & owner of a “glitzy” pizzeria in Manhattan. The expo opened at 10am. It was a veritable feast with the latest in ovens, dough hooks, store design and of course: Pizza! #PizzaExpo2014

Luckily it was just across from the Nightclub and Bar Expo that opened at 12n. And really who drinks before noon in Vegas? Well everyone, actually. Always one of our favorite shows, we feasted our senses on the visual feast that is NCB. Celebrities were everywhere, including some from across the strip from CinemaCon. The flair bartenders were showing off their expertise in flipping a bottle in the air and having it pour just the right amount into a crystal encrusted martini glass. I have to say my favorite sighting was the booth bunnies done up in Duct tape. I just hope they waxed beforehand. Everything you could want in a club, lounge or bar was exhibiting from flavored jumbo condoms to flavored toilet seat covers to booze infused fruit. #NCBShow2014

And finally we made it over to

Catersource – the annual trade show dedicated to catering, personal chefs and event planning.    Menu planning, tablescapes, setting up social media for each event (and believe me many trade shows could take advantage of this seminar) floral arrangements and destination planning were all included under the Catersource umbrella.  We were invited to their opening night party aptly titled MUSE, held at the ballroom in Bally’s. Full of glitz and glamour it was the perfect start for a conference dedicated to creating amazing and memorable events. #CSES2014



Trade Show Tip Thursday: 5 Must haves for your Conference & Trade Show

1: Easy to navigate website:  I cannot stress this enough. Attending 700+ trade events per year gives us a little bit of knowledge on this topic.

Website’s Front page:

  1. 1. Big Honking Registration button
  2. 2. Search feature (try google’s – it’s free)
  3. 3. Brief UPDATED description of what your current show offers. No one cares that in 2013 40K people attended – save that for your exhibitor’s page.
  4. 4. Link to What’s new for 20xx (pick a year this advice is timeless)
  5. 5. Clear navigation tools

2. PR in Advance- aka Social Media: Set up your twitter # (hashtag)  at least 3 months in advance & put it in your twitter description. Make it simple like #ShowNameYear Set up your 4Sq – I cannot tell you how many shows overlook this tool. It is invaluable to finding who else is attending that might be a good cross match to both your attendees & exhibitors. Same with Instagram. If you don’t have a trade show account, get one then encourage all your exhibitors and attendees to post their photos with the present up # (that is the SAME as your twitter one- can’t believe i have to write that)

3.  Badge Pick up vs Onsite Registration:  The advantage of registering prior to the show is to make it faster from the badge pick up to the show/conference floor. It should not include having to show 30 pieces of ID in order to retrieve your badge. It’s like voter registration: less than 1% of people will be fraudulently trying to to attend your show. Make it easy for those who do. (I’m looking at you #CONExpo – 2 hour wait, lines back up to the street – not a good start) Speaking of badges. Even the most technical show should have a trade show only options. Especially if you are in a large market venue like Orlando, New York or Las Vegas. If it’s a medical conference – sometimes the staff of a practice can benefit from just attending the trade show but not at 1K per head. Or maybe someone is thinking of getting into a career in aviation. What better way to find out what opportunities are available than attending the trade show.

4. New Product Showcase:  How hard is it to carve a space out on your trade show floor, upcharge your exhibitors a set amount and post a list of participants with new products on your website? Not hard at all and worth it to both attendees who are looking to expand or upgrade their lines and for exhibitors looking for new clients. Win-Win. And event management looks like a champ!

5.  Social Meetup:  No matter what your business is, there is always a need for personal engagement. Sometimes a conference and trade show are the only interaction many companies have with their peers. Sure everyone has a group breakfast or dinner but it always includes a speaker and/or presentations/awards. Not much time to meet & greet. So why not offer a ‘tweet-up‘ on the show floor. Like the new product showcase, you can carve out 100 feet – put a couple of chairs there and at 4pm or 10am or 2pm have a daily “Tweet & meet.” One of the best peer to peer engagements we’ve ever seen or been to is at the annual Exhibitor’s Expo. they have a big white board called Dinner with Strangers. Every night they have a dozen or so restaurants & a facilitator who coordinates the dinner. It’s usually limited to 6-10 diners. there is a set menu of $25-35 – and you have dinner with people you don’t know. Its a great way to expand interactions among attendees/vendors and for those who are the sole person from their company or they are new to the industry they don’t have to dine alone.  At the NAB show, TWIT-Tv sponsors a photo walk down the strip. they limit it to 100 participants but every year they pick a different section and stroll along  snapping pictures with their cameras, cell phones & tablets. afterwards they meet up for cocktails and share their adventures.

It is no longer just booking conference space & having a trade show. It’s about engagement pre-during-post show.  Most of these should be intuitive but it is surprising how many conference planners forget they are in the service business and attendees/exhibitors are their customers.

Nashville: American Bus Marketplace – ABA Gallery of Pictures

ABA Nashville

ABA Nashville


1. Buses Inside
2. Opening Ceremony
3. Scavenger Hunt Tour
4. Is that a banana in your pocket? YES!
5. NY Provides Popcorn
6. Booths 101









ABA Nashville

ABA Nashville


7. Atlantic City Booth
8. I LOVE NY Booth
9. Mississippi Blues
10. South Dakota Booth
11. NY Party
12. Speed Networking

Nashville: American Bus Marketplace – ABA

ABA Nashville: ABA Welcome Signs in BNA

ABA Nashville: ABA Welcome Signs in BNA

ABA is the American Bus Association, and they came to Nashville for the American Bus Marketplace. As 331 sponsors were glad to hear, 3500 people attended the show, a new record.  933 motorcoach and tour operators were in attendance, 322 motorcoach and tour operator companies took appointments during the week, fifty more than the previous year.  30 appointments on average were scheduled for each seller, and 2 dozen partners held meetings for their membership or attended Marketplace in recognition of its status as the leading industry show at which to conduct people-transportation-related business.  The networking floor offered 12 motorcoaches and 138 exhibitors.  $41,500 was raised for charity Thistle Farms.  ‘Nuff numbers for you, bus people?  No?  That’s all the numbers we got right now.  Okay, all together now: “I’ll stay on the bus, forget about us…”  #ABANashville

ABA Nashville: Lining Up for Expo

ABA Nashville: Lining Up for Expo