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iPhone Decibel-Measuring App Helps Surf Expo Keep Noise Down

Photo: Brandon Dowling for BizBash

The Surf Expo, a biannual trade show for manufacturers and retailers in the board sports and beach lifestyle markets, filled 235,000 square feet in the Orange County Convention Center January 6 to 8 with 900 exhibitors such as Vans, Billabong, and Skullcandy, along with fashion shows, skateboarding competitions, and stand-up paddle boarding lessons. Despite all of this activity, the show floor was surprisingly quiet, as organizers used a decibel app on their iPhones to monitor sound levels so attendees could focus on buying and selling merchandise for the coming season.
 
“These are fun, feel-good industries, and many of our exhibitors would love to be playing loud music, but our attendees are here to conduct business,” said Surf Expo director of marketing Dan Darby. “So we are very serious about keeping the sound level down.”

Eight Surf Expo staff members had iPhones loaded with the Decibels by David Bannach app, allowing them to monitor sound in many locations at once. In the past, organizers only had one hand-held decibel meter that was shared by the team. The expo’s exhibitor contract has always included sound limits, but this year organizers also handed out fliers to every booth reiterating the rule to keep sound below 85 decibels.

Surf Expo attracted 12,000 attendees, about a 10 percent increase over the January 2010 show. The September Surf Expo is different because it includes water sports such as wake boarding, water skiing, and windsurfing. Darby said the fastest growing segment of the show is stand-up paddle boarding, which had 85 manufacturers exhibiting, more than double the 40 from January 2010.

For the first time, Surf Expo included an event open to the public—the Quiksilver All '80s All Day Vert Challenge on Friday night. The competition featured many professional skaters from the 1980s, including Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi, vying for a grand prize of $1,980. However, members of the public who came to watch the Vert Challenge were not allowed onto the trade show floor.

Other special activities included Bangers for Bucks, a skate contest pitting nine teams against each other for $15,000 in cash and merchandise, and a shape-off competition with craftsmen hand-shaping surfboards. The schedule also offered seven educational seminars on topics such as marketing and inventory management.


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