Grass Keeps Getting Greener for the Golf Industry Show

May 21, 2016

At the 1928 conference of the National Association of Greenkeepers of America (now known as the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America), 350 participants gathered at the Hotel Fort Shelby in Detroit to see the latest innovations in golf course maintenance equipment and technology from 27 exhibitors.

Fred A. Burkhardt from Cleveland, Ohio, spearheaded efforts to launch the National Greenkeepers Golf Show, with the goal of offering collaboration opportunities for golf course managers to exchange ideas and strengthen
peer-to-peer relationships. And the audience responded – floor space and attendance increased each year up until 1932.

During the next two decades, the conference and show faced difficulty during the Great Depression, then came to a halt in 1943 during the war. But in the years after the war, the show grew significantly, drawing 1,700 attendees in 1961. That year, it was renamed the International Golf Course Conference and Show, and by 1966, it filled 20,000 square feet.

By 1980, attendance had topped 7,000, and in 1984 the show was once again renamed as the International Golf Course Conference and Show.

In 2005, the show once again received a name change to reflect a collaboration with allied associations and the objective to provide networking and hands-on access to golf course and facility management
solutions for all areas of a golf course facility. Today, the Golf Industry Show is presented by GCSAA and the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), along with supporting organizations: the Golf Course
Builders Association of America, the American Society of Golf Course Architects, United States Golf Association, and the National Golf Foundation.

Also that year, the show faced a huge and unexpected challenge. It was scheduled to be held in New Orleans only seven months after Hurricane Katrina hit. The convention center was unable to hold shows at that point,
so a whole new plan had to be developed and details had to be well-communicated to exhibitors and attendees.

“We reached out to Houston and asked if they could help us out,” said trade show manager Shelly Urish. “They said yes, so we started changing the game plan. Not too far into planning, we found out there was a
conflicting show in the same building that we were not comfortable with. So we then switched the show to Atlanta within a few months prior to our event.”

Now, Urish says “when someone asks if we can do something new for next year’s show, we always say ‘Well, if we can switch venues four months out … two times … we can surely figure it out in 12 months!’ ”

That proved true again for the show this past February, after being denied the option of having a equipment test drive demo area behind the San Diego Convention Center. Instead, a 15,000-square-foot green space was
constructed on the show floor, complete with 150 tons of sand. All of the sand and sod was then donated to golf courses in the San Diego area after the show.

Today’s event now draws not only golf course superintendents, but also owners and operators, general managers, and CEOs, as well as course architects and builders. Exhibits and sessions cover all aspects of golf
course management including environmental, business, communications, and more, to help everyone do their jobs better, faster and more efficiently.

“It’s great that we have two presenting partners and four participating partners who all come together to host one show of all of our memberships at the same time,” Urish said. “This welcomes a wealth of networking
opportunities across different golf courses, different job titles, different types of golf facilities, etc. for the attendees and exhibitors. It makes sense for attendees to come to one show where they have all of
the appropriate buying decision makers at the same place.”

At this year’s show all the numbers were up, with 550 exhibitors filling 250,000 net square feet of space, and total attendance of 12,600. Two exhibitors remain that have been involved since the very first show: Toro
and Jacobsen.

Urish attributes the show’s success to the passion and pride that attendees have for the jobs they do, along with the educational and networking opportunities. “It’s common throughout all of the supporting
organizations of the Golf Industry Show to find an attendee base that leans on each other to troubleshoot problems and helps each other as much as they can.”

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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.