LIGHTFAIR International Lights Up Las Vegas

May 12, 2012

Go to enough trade shows and you’ll notice that every event seems to have its own personality, flavor and attitude. Some shows are innovative and visually appealing, some lively and fun, while others more focused and serious.

LIGHTFAIR International, the world’s largest annual trade show and conference for the architectural and commercial lighting industry, could be described as all of the above.

Held May 7-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the 23rd annual LFI attracted more than a projected 20,000 attendees and more than 500 exhibitors spanning 200,000-plus net square feet of exhibit space, according to show officials, although final attendance numbers were not available by press time.

Last year, the event drew 23,687 attendees and 474 exhibitors occupying 202,800 net sq. ft. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the largest show in the event’s history.

But unlike many shows that may still be struggling to increase traction and grow their attendance in the wake of the downturn, LFI has continued to buck the odds throughout the recession and continue an upward trajectory in participation and size, said Jeffrey Portman, Sr., president and COO of AMC, Inc., which produces and manages the show.

“This show has been an anomaly to what has been going on in the marketplace – we’ve never had a downturn,” Portman said. “We’ve grown from 2007 until now in both attendance and the number of exhibitors.”

He added, “I think it’s a combination of technological advancements, the competitive environment, governmental regulations and the push for sustainability and recyclability. There’s a lot of innovation taking place in the industry, which is to some extent driving the business.”

As a forum for domestic and international manufacturers of lighting technologies and products, LFI also offers the world’s largest and most comprehensive annual architectural and commercial lighting conference, with 72 educational sessions and more than 200 hours of programming.

On a glowing expo floor, colorful, eye-catching booths showcased the industry’s newest products and technologies, with bustling aisles and exhibits sporting robust traffic and activity.

Among the event’s five pavilions – Building Integration, Daylighting, Design, Global Light + Design and the new New Exhibitor Pavilion – many exhibitors used creative and innovative uses of light and color to attract attendee attention.

Exhibitor Lauren Hoffman, marketing coordinator of Douglas Lighting Controls, said this LFI boasted a definite upsurge in traffic and energy, compared with the last time the event converged in Las Vegas.

“There’s a really good turn out this year and a lot of new and exciting products that people are showcasing,” Hoffman said.

She added, “We’ve been exhibiting at this show for the last 15 years, and I think the traffic has been the strongest this year, compared to Las Vegas two years ago.”

Attendee Steven Thren, electrical designer of Henneman Engineering, said LFI was always a valuable show for him and his company, especially for finding new, cutting-edge products and applications.  

“I’m here to see what new products are out and available,” Henneman said. “You never know what you’re looking for until you see it – you might find a product you might be able to use that you haven’t used before.”

LIGHTFAIR International will return April 21-25 to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Add new comment

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.