Craft & Hobby Association Mega Conference and Trade Show Celebrates 75 Years

January 26, 2016

The CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show, the annual show for the Craft & Hobby Association that was held Jan. 7-12 at the Anaheim Convention Center, celebrated its 75th year, and the attendees were ready to create, connect and learn in this $30 billion world-wide industry.

“There is such a passion for this industry, and our attendees reflect this passion,” said Maureen Walsh, vice president of marketing for the Craft & Hobby Association.

She added, “The energy we see when the exhibit floor is about to open is what we see throughout the industry and the conference. It is like our Black Friday.” 

The show started with standing-room only attendance at the keynote. Philip Fimmano of Trend Union discussed not only new materials but also new techniques for creativity.

“Crafts are being used as a stress release, unplugging from technology. Working with craft projects provides a way for us to reset,” Fimmano said. 

The trend panel discussion reviewed hits and misses with trends, as well as talk around where each panelist gets his or her inspiration.

Many commented there is more of a global trend movement versus country-specific and men are taking a larger role in being ‘makers’ in the industry.

Even though the educational sessions were very popular, many attendees had their sights set on the show floor. 

Attendee Sarah Davies, director of Sarah’s Cards Ltd.,  said, “We have been traveling to this conference from the U.K, since 2008, and the show has been bringing more relevant exhibitors.  It continues to be a worthwhile show, and we get to see new trends, and get to test new techniques in the ‘make and take’ stations.  We are excited for next year and exploring the city of Phoenix.”

Andria LaJeunesse, director of Expositions and Events at the Craft & Hobby Association, said, “There have been so many amazing new products this year. The Consumer Connection Pavilion has been a great asset to these new businesses. It provides our exhibitors and attendees new ways to connect with consumers.”

And new exhibitors were excited to showcase their products. New exhibitor and company Ribb-Its decided to use the CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show to launch their product to the marketplace.

“Our product beginning is like many others here, starting from an idea to meet a need in the market. We knew showing our product here would give us feedback and gain some brand recognition,” said CEO Kate Mudge.

A combination of buyers, suppliers, distributors and creative professionals were on the showfloor, seeing new materials and techniques.

“Many of us who teach in the industry come to the show specifically to see what new creative trends are happening. We bring these new trends to our students, so they look forward to us coming here as well,” commented attendee and creative artist Barbara Burgs with Running With Scissors.

Some exhibitors have been in business, and attending the show, for nearly as long as the show has been running. 

One such exhibitor was FloraCraft, celebrating their 70th year in business, and exhibiting at the show for more than 60 years.

“We have staple products on display, as well as new items, and the traffic and interest in our booth is always excellent,” said Travis Miedema, marketing associate for FloraCraft. “This year, we are very excited to launch Make It: Fun Learning Center, an online tool for educators. Many teachers use our products in the classroom, and the new Learning Center gives them new ideas. It is divided by both grade level and subject matter. We have had a very positive response to it, and will continue to add projects and ideas to it.”

There are several changes to the show for next year.

“While we have been in Southern California for many years, we made the decision to move to the Phoenix Convention Center for 2017,” Walsh said. “We believe the new venue space will spark artistic flow, as well as allow our attendees to explore a new city. We also have moved the show to later in January to accommodate the December holidays and reformatted to a 3-day schedule. These changes were a response to our attendees’ feedback, and we are excited for the upcoming show.”

The 2017 CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show will be held Jan. 19-23, 2017, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.