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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: National Restaurant Association Show, New Music Industry Conference Set for New Orleans, and More

BizBash rounds up the latest news related to meetings, trade shows, and CVBs/DMOs.

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: May 2023
Live cooking demos are popular programming at the National Restaurant Association Show each year. Last year, celeb chef and Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry took the stage.
Photo: Courtesy of National Restaurant Association Show

In Case You Missed It
BizBash has a plethora of exciting meeting and trade show content to share from the past month. We explored how internal events build a strong company culture—plus, five ways to do it right. We also rounded up 13 inspiration-sparking design ideas for meeting rooms. Earlier in May, we also spoke with the CEO and co-founder of health-centered furniture company Nessel on how to best accommodate nursing mothers at meetings and conferences. 

And, just last week, we caught up with the Gladiator Productions team on how they worked with four different clients at the recent Ulta FLC beauty trade show to create four distinct booths. "It’s not easy to build four massive booths, all using their max height allowances for the show in four different corners of the floor!" founder Seth Dolan told us. Read more here.

Here are five more things you should know about this month...

1. National Restaurant Association Show set to welcome attendees from more than 100 countries.
The National Restaurant Association Show will head to Chicago later this month, running May 20-23 at McCormick Place. The annual food service industry trade show says it expects its international attendance to exceed 2022 numbers, with attendees registered from more than 100 countries.

That global sentiment will extend to the show's trade show floor layout and education programming. Attendees can expect a show floor spanning 650,000 square feet with more than 280 international exhibiting companies and specialty pavilions inspired by international cultures and cuisines. Education sessions will also skew international, with industry experts from around the world presenting on wellness, menu optimization, marketing, technology, and operations—to name a few topics.

"International registration trends this year, and last, are a testament to today’s global nature of the food service industry,” said Tom Cindric, president of Winsight Exhibitions, in a press release. “We believe that attendees will gain valuable insights and perspectives from around the world. Our robust international program—one of our biggest success stories—offers a unique opportunity for connection with global colleagues and exploration of new trends and innovations in the industry.”

Attendees can also take advantage of live cooking demos helmed by chefs from around the world and translation and interpreter services for networking and connecting on the trade show floor.

2. Data says Chicago was the top meetings market in April.
Speaking of Chicago, Knowland has released its latest monthly report that monitors the top 25 markets that are leading the industry in meeting and event volume. The Windy City took the top spot for April, leading the U.S. meetings and events industry by volume. The market averaged 162 attendees per meeting and 4,500 square feet of space used, and an average of 16 bookings per property for the month. 

The top drivers for meetings in Chicago in April were national associations, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical/biotechnology. Second place again went to Los Angeles-Long Beach, with Washington, D.C. (the top market for March), in third.

What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: May 2023Mark it down: October 2023 will be the inaugural New Orleans Music Month.Photo: Shutterstock3. New Orleans & Company will launch its inaugural New Orleans Music Month in October—with a new music industry conference.
For a city with such deep musical roots—which are always a draw for meeting planners and attendees alike—this news just makes sense. New Orleans & Company, the city's DMO, is launching a brand-new, monthlong celebration of music, culture, and technology called New Orleans Music Month, and it's slated for this October. 

The crown jewel in the lineup of events will be a new music industry conference, NOLA MusiCon, taking place Oct. 24-27 at The Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans. The conference will feature panels and interviews with music industry professionals and thought leaders, hands-on demonstrations from brands, one-on-one mentor sessions, live performances from emerging and established local talent, and networking. The goal of the conference is to inform and educate artists and others in the music business, as well as highlight New Orleans as a viable place for the industry.

“Every day of the year, we instinctively know that music underlies our entire cultural landscape in deep and meaningful ways,” said Walt Leger III, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, in a press release. “In designating October formally as ‘Music Month,' New Orleans & Company, along with many other organizations and long-standing music events, is dedicating resources to market our live music scene and the industry that surrounds it with a focused conference to complement the many music-centric events that are ongoing during that same month.”

Those ongoing events include Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (Oct. 13-15) and NOLA Funk Fest (Oct. 20-22).

4. Los Angeles Tourism shares optimistic tourism and events data.
The City of Angels had some gratifying news to share earlier this month. The city's DMO, Los Angeles Tourism, announced that tourism to Los Angeles County generated $34.5 billion in total business sales in 2022, reaching 91% of 2019 levels. Hotel demand also grew in 2022 to reach nearly 30 million room nights sold, reaching 96.3% of 2019 levels.

In the meetings realm, the DMO shared that Los Angeles Tourism Meetings and Conventions welcomed 11 citywide conventions to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the fiscal year 2021-2022, drawing nearly 300,000 attendees. For 2023, 21 confirmed major meetings and events are headed to LA and are projected to generate $225 million in total economic impact.

This news was shared May 4—during a joint event with Visit California and Los Angeles World Airports—as part of a kickoff for California Tourism Month. 

"While there’s still work ahead to achieve full recovery—particularly in rebuilding vital international visitation—there are more reasons to visit LA than ever before, and I wholeheartedly believe the best is yet to come," said Los Angeles Tourism president and CEO Adam Burke in a statement.

5. Hospitality Show 2024 sets its sights on San Antonio.
Last year, we sat down with Questex's president of hospitality, travel, and wellness, Alexi Khajavi, to discuss the company's brand-new event for the hospitality industry, the Hospitality Show, created in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Before the inaugural event even takes place—this June at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas—the two organizations have announced that the 2024 iteration will be held at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio from Oct. 28-30, 2024.

“As a bold new event designed to highlight cutting-edge solutions for the entire hospitality ecosystem, we are thrilled to build on the momentum sparked by our launch event as we continue to arm our industry with the right tools and partners to drive immediate returns,” said Khajavi in a statement announcing the news.

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