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What's New in Meetings and Trade Shows: NAMM Show's Big Attendance Numbers, The Chef Conference, ESPA's New President, and More

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

The 2024 NAMM Show welcomed more than 62,000 attendees—that's up from the 48,000 people who attended in 2023.
The 2024 NAMM Show welcomed more than 62,000 attendees—that's up from the 48,000 people who attended in 2023.
Photo: Courtesy of NAMM

In Case You Missed It

BizBash was on the ground at CES and rounded up some of the best wow-worthy activations and booths from the high-profile tech trade show. We even went in-depth on Walmart's impressive two-story structure and why the mega-retailer wanted to make its presence known this year.

Over the past month on our Meetings & Trade Shows vertical, we also explored some of the best ways to engage with first-timers at annual events and how to successfully work with DMCs, and we even interviewed TED's new chief program and strategy officer on what the newly created role entails and the growing recognition of event strategists as business leaders and revenue drivers. Finally, we had the opportunity to travel to Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, where we learned all the wonderfully winterized ways event profs can host programs there.

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

1. Meeting planners continue to opt for secondary destinations to reduce costs.
Earlier this month, Knowland released its January meeting and event growth report, and it showcases a trend we've spotted recently: Meeting planners continue to opt for secondary destinations to reduce costs. For example, the report found that Nashville, a top 25 market, was up 16.1% year over year, while Lexington, Ky., enjoyed a whopping 76.4% uptick.

Other secondary markets in the report with impressive growth include:

  • Syracuse, N.Y. (+34.6%)
  • Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (+33.4%)
  • Oklahoma City, Okla. (+29.1%)
  • Louisville, Ky. (+24.1%) 

2. NAMM Show returned to its January dates in a big way.
This year, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show, one of Anaheim's largest B2B conventions, returned to its usual January dates for the first time since 2020. After taking place in April in 2023 and June in 2022 (2021's was all virtual), NAMM Show 2024 once again took over the Anaheim Convention Center Jan. 25-28. And the attendance numbers speak for themselves.

The 2024 edition welcomed more than 62,000 attendees, including over 10,000 international guests from 125 countries, regions, and territories. That's up from the 48,000 people who attended in 2023. Other notable numbers: More than 1,600 exhibitors represented over 3,500 brands. 

“NAMM 2024 delivered in every possible manner, from artist performances on multiple stages around the show to executives and emerging industry leaders delivering key messages inside the convention center, as well as hundreds of global brands announcing new visions, products, and partnerships,” said Tom Sumner, NAMM chairman and president of Yamaha Music USA, in a press release.

He continued, “We’re excited to keep bringing the industry together every January, producing the world’s largest opportunity to gather and do business.”

3. An inaugural restaurant industry conference will take place this April in Philly.
One weekend in April will bring some of the biggest names in food to the City of Brotherly Love. The Chef Conference will debut this year April 12-15, taking place at a variety of restaurants, hotels, and event venues across the city, including The Study at University City. It will spotlight a diverse lineup of chefs, journalists, and experts who will connect over their shared vision to improve the restaurant industry.

The Chef Conference is a new, multiday event spun off from the long-running Philly Chef Conference.The Chef Conference is a new, multiday event spun off from the long-running Philly Chef Conference.Photo: Neal Santos

Founded by Mike Traud and presented by Visit Philadelphia and Resy, The Chef Conference's main event will be its Panel Day, featuring a mix of keynote discussions, panels, and intimate “Trailblazer Talks” (a series of in-depth, one-on-one conversations with industry leaders). Speakers include chef, writer, and TV host Andrew Zimmern and Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. The new event is a spinoff of the Philly Chef Conference, which Traud also founded.

There will also be a range of open-to-the-public programming—pop-up dinners, book events, and happy hours—featuring their own slates of celebrity chef talent.

4. ESPA announced its new president and board members.
In late January, the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) welcomed Dominique Bonds as its new president, plus several new board members, during its 2024 annual conference in Indianapolis. Bonds is the director of engagement at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where she manages the venue's DEI initiatives, talent engagement, and customer experience.

"I’m focused on ensuring that ESPA is an organization that is reflective of the hospitality industry and fosters the spirit and reality of diversity," she said in a statement. "I’m also committed to continuing to support our targeted marketing efforts and exploring the expansion of our outreach beyond traditional organizations. As authors of the DEI Guide and Accessibility Toolkit, I want to ensure that ESPA also reflects these principles when it hosts its own events and programs.” 

New board members and officers include Zack Davis of Louisville Tourism, Patrick Coit of Meet Boston, Joyel Oliphant of The Biltmore Company, Molly Self of Arlington CVB, and Adrienne Terry of Chattanooga Tourism Co.

5. Visit Anaheim launched a local workforce development initiative. 
Speaking of Anaheim, the SoCal DMO recently launched a new program aimed to inspire students to pursue tourism and hospitality careers. Visit Anaheim’s Workforce Development program will go to 15 different high schools in Anaheim and Garden Grove where business leaders from local hotels, event venues, transportation companies, and more will share their individual career path stories directly with students.

“By fostering connections and providing guidance, Workforce Development is bridging the gap between our industry and our community,” said Christina Dawson, Visit Anaheim's senior vice president of operations, in a press release. “This program will inspire students to pursue careers within the tourism and hospitality field while cultivating a skilled and diverse future workforce.”

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