Insight Meets Inspiration: A Recap of IAEE’s Expo! Expo! 2019

December 10, 2019

Networking, education, hugs from friends and Froot Loops-sprinkled doughnuts were all part of the experience at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition, which took place Dec. 3-5 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. 

The annual “show for shows” attracted more than 2,300 trade show professionals from 32 countries and featured a sold-out, 41,700-square-foot showfloor with 270 exhibitors.

The event kicked off on Tuesday with the opening general session and the CEM Class of 2019 presentation, which recognized 300 graduates of the CEM Learning Program. \

Attendees then got a dose of inspiration from Chris Bashinelli, who challenged the audience to practice mindfulness and embrace global citizenship during his keynote presentation. “We can not only find our ‘Vegas moment,’ but we can find our personal moment when we give ourselves permission to see others and ourselves differently, see our true value,” he said.

In her keynote on Wednesday, Darleen Santore inspired the audience with her personal story of dealing with strokes, and her passion for helping professional teams and athletes reach greater heights. “I want you to win in life,” Santore said. “I want you to show up and be the best you can possibly be every day. Not to give up; not to settle; [but to] share your gift with the world.”

Inspiration and insight were at the core of more than 100 educational sessions focused on leadership, strategy, design, marketing and management. One of the most popular was “Perspective Through a Leader’s Lens: The Neuroscience of Decision Making, Influencing and Social Behavior” by Janet Sperstad, program director for the event management degree at Madison College. 

Sperstad started her session by asking attendees to give each other high fives, thus boosting the feel-good hormones dopamine and oxytocin. “More decisions are made through ‘emotional brain’ than ‘executive brain,’” she said. 

Some of the takeaways from her sessions included using a citrus scent to help attendees focus, as well as using orange and yellow colors to increase energy in the space; scheduling panel discussions for after lunch, when people are more receptive to storytelling; and creating selfie opportunities. 

“Taking a selfie boosts dopamine, so branding moments with selfies are an excellent tool,” Sperstad said. “Invest in those micro-moments at your event.” 

Given that Expo! Expo! is all about new ideas and connections, show organizers create multiple environments in which those could develop. At the IAEE Hangout, for example, attendees learned about the new CRM and other tools at the Tech Bar, got inspired by the Art of the Show Winners Gallery and got down to business in the ZenSpace Meeting pod.

Expo legosThe same philosophy applied to the showfloor,, where networking and learning opportunities anchored various parts of the exhibit hall. Attendees learned about the new giveaway-tracking app at the Tech Startup Pavilion and got up to speed on travel trends (and scored toy koalas) at the International Pavilion. 

Brews and Views Pubs were buzzing destinations for fireside-style interviews with industry greats, meet-ups and those ever-important connections over drinks. 

On the opposite end of the showfloor, a quieter form of networking was happening over building Lego structures together. The Legos were later donated to the Las Vegas chapter of Children’s Heart Foundation.

For Arjan Keizer, business development manager at RAI Amsterdam Convention Center, the show’s special events — such as Humanity Rocks party at the House of Blues — were an important draw. “They have been fantastic,” he said. “[They are] a great way to rekindle contacts and network in an informal setting.”

Amy Nitschke, a meeting planner for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, has been coming to Expo! Expo! for the past five years. “It helps me get a new perspective on my event,” she said. Some of the favorite finds at this show have been the new CRM systems with new capabilities and ideas on how to improve the exhibitor retention rates. She was very pleased with her experience at the show this year: “Honestly, I can’t think of anything I would change,” she said.

Expo! Expo! IAEE's Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2020 will be held Dec. 8-10, 2020, at Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.

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