How the Pool and Spa Expo Expanded On-Floor Education

Find out how organizers are addressing attendees’ desire for more knowledge and networking.

By Mitra Sorrells November 6, 2014, 7:15 AM EST

On one side of its 2,000-square-foot exhibit, Houzz offered education sessions about its products as well as the results of a landscaping trends study.

Photo: Mitra Sorrells/BizBash

International Pool, Spa, and Patio Expo
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Feedback from prior events prompted the International Pool, Spa, and Patio Expo to provide more education sessions on the floor of its trade show. The event, which opened Sunday and ends Friday at the Orange County Convention Center, combines an educational conference and an expo hall filled with 1,400 booths from companies selling swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, patios, decks, casual furniture, outdoor kitchens, and related products. Last year, when the show took place in Las Vegas, the only on-floor education was located in one small presentation area provided by Hayward, a pool equipment manufacturer. This year, organizers created five additional presentation areas to offer more education and opportunities for networking to the nearly 11,000 attendees.

“Our audience is a lot of family-owned companies, so this is the one place they can come to get some of that business education and tips on marketing and social media,” said expo director Tracy Garcia. “It’s also a great benefit for our exhibitors because now we are keeping these people on the show floor and not sending them off to classes.”

The presentation areas vary in size and focus. In a 50-seat theater hosted by Genesis 3, guests learned about design trends and outdoor kitchens and even participated in a wine tasting. Houzz, a new exhibitor at the event, created a 16-seat presentation area in its booth where it educated attendees on how to use the online resource to reach consumers. A classroom-style presentation area in the expo's new Commercial Pavilion featured products and services targeted to that sector. Show organizers also created two small seating areas dubbed “Splash Talk” networking lounges where a variety of speakers shared tips on outdoor living and social media.

“The Splash Talks are attendee engagement opportunities. It’s to get the attendees interacting with each other to brainstorm and discuss issues, and it’s also a great way for us to try topics that we are not sure we need to do full sessions on,” Garcia said.  

In addition to the on-floor programming, the event’s formal conference offered 250 hours of education sessions.

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