How a Busy Trade Show Improved Efficiency for 80,000 Participants

The Magic Las Vegas family of shows shed one of its three venues and made badging universal.

By Alesandra Dubin August 31, 2016, 7:30 AM EDT

About 80,000 attendees flocked to Las Vegas for the massive cluster of women's and men's shows during Magic market week.

Photo: Jenna Bascom

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In April, UBM—the company behind the popular Las Vegas fashion event Magic—announced that it had acquired fashion trade show producer Business Journals Inc. for nearly $70 million. BJI, as it’s commonly known, had an array of trade show brands: Accessories the Show, Edit, Fame, Moda, MRket, and Stitch. These shows run multiple times a year, and in some cases are located in the same venues as UBM shows—so they were clearly complementary to UBM’s existing fashion trade show portfolio. But the acquisition also allowed plenty of room for streamlining in the new format.

“This transaction is very much in line with our ‘events first' strategy,” UBM C.E.O. Tim Cobbold said in a statement at the time of the acquisition. “It adds to our presence in North America and also in the fashion sector. We see excellent opportunities to deliver an improved experience for customers and to realize the operational benefits which scale will bring.”

Right away, BJI began migrating its internal attendee database into UBM’s current attendee database—a three-month process of data merging, removing duplicate entries, and logistics. Then, come time for the August 15 through 17 shows under the Magic umbrella in Las Vegas, it was time to deliver that improved experience to exhibitors as well as approximately 80,000 attendees.

One way organizers did that was to streamline the shows’ venues from three down to two. Jettisoning the Sands, the shows now took over the Mandalay Bay Convention Center (MRket, Project, the Tents, the Collective, Pool Tradeshow, Accessories the Show, Stitch, Project Womens, and CurveNV), as well as the Las Vegas Convention Center (WWD Magic, WSA @ Magic, FN Platform, Children’s Club Magic, and Sourcing at Magic).

The streamlining helped brands and exhibitors alike get around faster—and work more efficiently overall. “There’s not a lot of time [to cover so much territory], and feasibly getting from Mandalay Bay to the convention center could take a half hour,” said UBM director of retail and public relations Beth Cowperthwaite. Organizers also arranged shuttle buses, and for the first time provided universal transportation.

Organizers also streamlined the badging and registration process. Beginning in August, one badge got participants into every show under the Magic umbrella in Las Vegas. “It’s a huge time saver,” Cowperthwaite said.

In order to communicate the changes, organizers distributed information in an open-letter-style email to the fashion community in advance, and also compiled all shows into one printed directory on-site for women’s and men’s shows. 

A color-coded universal signage theme also helped direct guests: Each entryway had a list with show name attached to its specific color theme. An army of staff also took a proactive approach to directing attendees.

“We were really excited about bringing the market together while still keeping the integrity and communities of each respective show,” said Tom Nastos, president of women’s fashion for UBM Americas. “This was a successful first step toward making it easier for buyers to shop our brands and spend more time together. We’re working closely with all the brands for a better understanding of how to make it an even more compelling shopping experience moving forward.”

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