Hershey, Pa. — Nearly 60 years have gone by since the National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP) hosted its first trade show. Reflecting on years past and focusing on the future, OESP is exploring the evolution of industry education and testing a new trade show format to better meet your needs.
“As a trade show manager, you always need to look at the total picture,” says Judy Garber, Executive Director of OESP. “Are exhibitors getting a return on their investment? Are attendees interested in coming? We examine and reinvent so that we can continue to provide valuable experiences for both our attendees and exhibitors.”
OESP has listened to feedback from attendees and exhibitors. They’ve noted that location plays a large role in attendance. “When we host an event in New England, attendance is weak, but when we host our annual event in Hershey, PA, it is strong,” says Garber. “We also found that having to pay for parking was a deterrent and that owners didn’t like their employees going into the big ‘city’ either.” And while technology is essential, especially when engaging younger generations, having an entirely virtual trade show is not the answer. Garber notes, “Nothing takes the place of face-to-face dialogue and interacting with a new product to see firsthand how it can be used in the field. Virtual trade shows just don’t deliver on that.” Attendees have also expressed a strong interest in earning NATE and NORA CEUs.
“Just because you do something for 60 years doesn’t mean that it needs to continue in the same format,” says Garber. “Change can be good for all parties. And that is why we’ve decided to test out a new trade show format in 2014. We still have a traditional trade show planned for 2015, but we look forward to seeing how our test in 2014 can impact the future of industry education.”
In 2014, OESP will showcase their new take on the trade show with two traveling events. They plan to bring these smaller events to attendees in two unique environments. The spring event will be held in May at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. This location selection was based on comments from members in CT, as well as some manufacturers. The other event will take place in Gettysburg, PA in September. Gettysburg has a terrific outdoor area for the live firing of boilers and is convenient for the VA, MD and PA markets.
The format of each event is intense to make the most of everyone’s time. While attendees spend the day on Monday in class, exhibitors will set up tabletops or small display areas to highlight their latest products and technologies. Later that evening, manufacturers and guests will network among the display areas. Classes will take place again on Tuesday morning and after lunch. And during a long lunch period, attendees will be invited to walk, talk and connect with manufacturers. After lunch, participants can leave or stay for additional classes and socializing later in the evening. Manufacturers will be encouraged to offer education and certifications, if available. The program was designed to work with the busy schedules of both attendees and manufacturers. Attendees will only have to spend one night away and they’ll have the opportunity to earn CEU’s and pick up a few new ideas. And if manufacturers choose to stay just one night, they can easily do so.
“As an Association, our goal is to make this a success for all parties,” says Garber. “We are excited about this change and look forward to embracing a new format for industry education in 2014.”