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Most Innovative Meetings 2014: #15 Sweets & Snacks Expo

A series of learning and interactive experiences made exhibitors happy by keeping attendees moving around the trade show floor.

By Martha C. White December 9, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

It was the largest show ever with more than 16,000 attendees and 650 exhibitors.

Photo: Courtesy of Sweets & Snacks Expo

At the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, the National Confectioners Association offered innovative ways to keep attendees moving around the trade show floor set up in Chicago’s McCormick Place. Standing-room-only learning labs that took place on the show floor were a big hit with buyers as well as exhibitors, said Jenn Ellek, the association’s senior director of trade marketing and communications. “Exhibitors love it because nobody goes off the show floor,” she said.

To draw traffic to the back of the exhibit hall, a perennial challenge for event hosts, a 20-foot trailer for Tic Tac was constructed. There, attendees could make custom Tic Tac packs and get their photo taken inside of a life-size Tic Tac. On Wednesday, the middle day of the show, the group hosted an afternoon reception that kicked off at 4:30 p.m. and led many participants to stick around. “You can network a bit more informally that you can on the show floor,” Ellek said. “You’re going to have to stand in the bus line anyway, so why not have a drink?”

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