DEMA Show Posts Strong Numbers in Uncertain Economy

November 23, 2012

Mermaids, Hawaiian shirts and just about every type of equipment needed for a treasure hunt in a shipwreck took the spotlight at the 2012 DEMA Show, the world's largest trade-only event for the scuba diving, ocean sports and dive travel industries. It took place Nov. 14–17 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas.

"Diving is a discretionary industry, which makes it unique that the show is growing in size in this economy," said Robert Harar, chairman and CEO of National Trade Productions that produces the show for the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association.

Compared with 2011, this year's square footage was up 12 percent to 134,000 net square feet. Attendance also was expected to surpass the last year's 10,000 by about five percent. Some 640 exhibitors participated.

The show put extra effort into promoting early registration and streamlining the registration process for returning attendees, which attributed to about a 30-percent increase in pre-registration numbers.

It also got a good response from using Instagram and the Pinterest social network, according to Karin Fendrich, COO of NTP.

On the showfloor, attendees could get their hands on the latest diving technology and products, as well as explore the new destinations for their underwater adventures.

But it was the capturing of their experiences that got the most attention. Image Resource Center offered presentations by photographers and videographers, as well as the makers of equipment, attracting a standing-room-only crowd.

Exhibitor GoPro captivated attendees' attention with their small but powerful cameras that let you record your James Bond-style tricks and share them with the world.

"Next year, we plan to introduce a Technical Resource Center that would build on the popularity of the Image Resource Center and cover every aspect of technical diving," said Chris Harar, director of marketing for NTP.

Aside from the excitement about better technology, the mood on the floor was of cautious optimism, with the sense that the tide can change anytime.

Exhibitor March Storm with Buddy Dive Liveaboard, which specializes in diving tourism to the Galapagos and Bonair, noted that the traffic had been less than expected.

"But this is still our biggest show, and we are happy with the return on the investment," said the veteran exhibitor. "In general, so far, the occupancy for us has been really good, even in low season. But with airlines cutting routes and with uncertain economy, it's hard to predict what's going to happen."

Attendee Lawrence Grayson, with Aaron's Diveshop in Kailua, Hawaii, has been coming to the show for more than 10 years to see new equipment, learn about the new standards and regulations and to catch up with friends.

He said he was happy with product offerings, but wishes there were an iPhone app for the showfloor that would give brief information about each exhibitor.

NTP actually had an iPhone app that had been heavily promoted before and during the show. When asked about his business, Grayson said, "Right now, it's steady and plenty of people are coming. We're keeping our head above water."

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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.