ConventionSouth

SEP 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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²ConventionSouth ² S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 26 FEATURE: TRADE SHOWS & EXPO HALLS shows, especially when it comes to making sure attendees get a valuable experience, wanting to come back for the next year and beyond. "IAEE has partnered with Bear Analytics to deep dive into Expo! Expo!'s past and current registration data to discover actional insights to attract and acquire new and returning attendees," Breden said. "Expo! Expo! utilizes matchmaking tech- nology via a2z's Connect platform for buyers and sellers, and also offers its exhibitors advanced lead engagement tools using the latest in attendee tracking sensor technology." A few important factors came to mind for Strum as she discussed how planners can involve attendees as active participants. "Lately, real-time social media activations and dedicated meeting apps have become the standard for live branding of meetings and conventions, enabling meeting professionals to heighten exposure and memora- bility of an annual event through yearly themes, special events, photo and tagging incentives, net- working opportunities and more," she said. "Ad- ditionally, experiential initiatives have become increasingly popular with meeting planners, who are opting for lounges, interactive displays and live entertainment as methods of not only making their event stand out but also bringing together and engaging attendees through new avenues of interaction. Whether used for venue navigation or branding opportunities, digital displays and cre- ative video production further add to the attendee experience with dynamic visual enhancements throughout the meeting space." Being able to provide trade shows with the latest technology is essential to attracting trade shows to Greensboro, N.C., according to Pope. She said that high-bandwidth wired and wireless internet and state-of-the-art directional signage throughout lobby areas are offered at Greens- boro's Joseph S. Koury Convention Center, which has 250,000 square feet of exhibition and pre-function space, and 985 guest rooms. Addi- tionally, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, one of the largest exhibition facilities in the U.S., offers leading-edge technological convenience, Pope said. Along with state-of-the-art sound, rigging and lighting, mechanized curtains can be used to create a variety of seating configura- tions. Star-quality dressing rooms, locker rooms, press/media rooms and photographer work- rooms are other conveniences that trade show groups can use. Interactive Dining and Creative Décor Foodie festivities and entertainment can't be left out of the conversation when discussing trade show trends that focus on the attendees just as much, if not more, than the products. "Food and beverage is often the cornerstone of successful meetings and conventions," Strum said. "Lately, the industry is exhibiting more creative dining concepts and novel, interactive details. Kitchens are providing a variety of on-trend catering, such as farm-to-table cuisine with menus that are artistic and imaginative. Guests are often invited to enjoy samplings of innovative food and bev- erage creations in more personal settings. Other trends include event sets and décor that are more evocative of night clubs than formal sit-down dinners, traditional ballrooms transformed into vibrant productions and unique site features, such as fountains and atriums, serving as backdrops for one-of-a-kind cocktail receptions or networking events." Expanding to Accommodate Growth The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta hosts trade show events that incorporate the venue's unique offerings to provide the total attendee experience, according to Tom Dolan, director of City Wide Sales for the Atlanta CVB. "As the fourth-largest convention center in the country, its 4 million total gross square footage is a big draw for planners," he said. "GWCC is currently undergoing a transforma- tion to connect Halls B and C to create 1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space. This upgrade allows the venue to accommodate and host groups that may have outgrown Atlanta or have never been able to come here due to size limitations. The convention center is part of a larger campus that includes 21 acres of greens- pace at Centennial Olympic Park, a world-class facility at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and The In August, the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) in Louisville show- cased its transformation to the meetings world at a grand opening ceremony after two years of expanding and renovating the facility, a $207 million project. Resident caterer Levy presented the new culinary program with a Louisville biscuit bar, KY Proud BBQ, Kentucky bourbon tastings and samples of local vendor partners, including Red Hot Roasters, Mayan Café and Falls City Brewing, offerings that may be ideal for many trade shows at the KICC. The renovated venue now offers 200,125 square feet of contig- uous Class A exhibit space, a 40,000-square-foot column-free ballroom with color-chang- ing LED walls, 52 meeting rooms and a 175-seat tiered conference theatre, a natural light-filled and community-engaging design reflecting Louisville's bourbon culture, a 15,000 meals-per-day kitchen capacity and a coffee- by-day, bourbon-by-night experience called Oak & Brew. The city hosts five of the country's largest trade shows, according to Trade Show News Network, one of the first groups to use the new facility for its "Fastest 50" event held in Louisville in August. Q KICC's Comeback: Trade Show & Expo Event Venue Open for Business

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