New Business Deals: ASM Global, Skyline Exhibits, VISIT Milwaukee and More Announce New Partnerships, Acquisitions

August 18, 2022

Despite the fact that summer tends to be a slower season for the trade show industry, event-related organizations across the country are sizzling with activity, busily forming new business partnerships and acquisitions as they look toward a robust fall and beyond. Take a look!

ASM Global

Global venue and event strategy and management leader ASM Global has formed a sustainability partnership with Honeycomb Strategies, a leading sustainability consultant for the hospitality, sports and event industries.

Announced on Aug. 17, the multi-year action plan will enable ASM Global facility owners and operators to leverage Honeycomb Strategies’ extensive experience and comprehensive understanding of event-related sustainability best practices to make fully informed strategic decisions on major sustainability investments.

The partnership will bolster ASM Global’s and Honeycomb Strategies’ combined commitment to offer innovative approaches and sustainable solutions for ASM Global’s vast venue portfolio that includes live entertainment, trade show, stadium and sports spaces, and features the largest portfolio of certified green venues.

According to Lindsay Arell, who is co-principal of Honeycomb Strategies alongside Amanda Simons, Honeycomb will be working on ASM’s overall sustainability strategy, as well as providing guidance to individual venues, collaborating seamlessly with both stakeholder groups to make meaningful change and long-lasting positive impacts. 

“This alliance is a perfect fit with both companies’ desire to help drive positive social and environmental change,” Arell said. “It helps meet business and sustainability goals, both internally and for our clients and the communities in which we operate. As some of the largest venues in the world, this commitment is sure to have a significant impact. 

Honeycomb Strategies’ recent major sustainability programs and projects include the Philadelphia Eagles, SoFi Stadium, Colorado Convention Center, Visit Denver, Greenbuild Conference and Expo, Vancouver Convention Center, Specialty Coffee Association, Coffee Expo, UUA General Assembly and Snowflake Technology Summit.

Skyline Exhibits 

On Aug. 10, trade show exhibiting company, Skyline Exhibits, acquired Skyline Pacific Northwest (SPNW), its top-tier authorized dealer serving the greater Seattle metropolitan area and Alaska.  

The deal marks Skyline’s first completed acquisition since receiving investment from private equity firm Gemspring Capital in 2020. Nearing its pre-pandemic revenue level as it focuses on continued growth as events and trade shows rebound, Skyline recently added executive leadership in several key areas and reorganized its service centers in major venue cities. 

According to Anthony Floreano, Skyline CEO, Skyline has worked with SPNW to create high-impact exhibits for many of the region’s top brands, including Zillow Group, Amazon, T-Mobile US and VIAVI.

SPNW Owner and President John Backstrom and several key employees will continue to serve SPNW clients as part of the Skyline Exhibits corporate team, which is headquartered in Eagan, Minn. 

“It’s an honor to officially join the Skyline Exhibits team,” Backstrom said. “As an authorized dealer, we have worked with Skyline for more than 20 years. Being a more direct part of the organization will help us better serve our clients with high-impact, modular exhibits and seamless trade show services regardless of their location or venue.” 

VISIT Milwaukee

On Aug. 5, the Republican National Committee announced that it had officially selected the city of Milwaukee to host its 2024 convention, which is expected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in near- and long-term economic benefit to the local hospitality industry. 

According to VISIT Milwaukee officials, beyond the economic boost, the Republican National Convention stands to positively elevate the profile of the city throughout the world, attracting other major events and conventions to southeastern Wisconsin and leading to more business and more money invested in its economy.  

“At VISIT Milwaukee, we promote tourism to generate economic growth that ultimately creates a better, stronger Milwaukee,” said VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith. “It’s our job to pursue conventions that don’t just bring us hard dollars, but those that will bring prestige and exposure that will ultimately enhance our reputation as an amazing place to visit, work and live.”

She continued, “Bringing this convention to Milwaukee was the result of sustained collaboration from a statewide, bipartisan coalition that deeply loves our community and believes in the results this convention will deliver. We are thrilled to get to work with our community and hospitality partners to help the RNC’s planners pull off their best convention yet.” 

With this announcement, Milwaukee becomes first city to win back-to-back Democratic and Republican national conventions since 1972. 

Convention Data Services 

Event registration, business intelligence and lead management provider Convention Data Services (CDS), a Freeman Company, inked two major deals recently.

On Aug. 2, Clarion Events North America selected CDS to provide registration, lead management, integrations and contact center services for nearly 30 shows annually for three years from 2023–2025. 

Clarion’s B2B event portfolio spans the sectors of energy and resources, public safety, fashion, and retail and home, and includes FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) International, DISTRIBUTECH International and POWERGEN International, among others.  

“CDS is an ideal partner for Clarion Events given their proven track record in the event industry and strong alignment with our purpose and strategic goals and focus on the customer journey,” said Liz Irving, CMO of Clarion Events North America. “We look forward to building the partnership to provide personalized event experiences for our current and future customers.”  

In July, the International Housewares Association (IHA) tapped CDS to provide registration, lead management, integrations, data analytics, contact center services and other automated tools from 2023–2025 for its annual trade show, The Inspired Home Show, the largest housewares and home products marketplace in North America.

“IHA has been a longtime Freeman client, and we are excited to grow that partnership,” said David Lawton, CDS chief sales officer. “Many of our tools will also enable IHA to digitize and automate their manual processes, such as exhibitor-appointed contractor (EAC) authorization as well as Book-It, which enables their exhibitors to make online reservations for meeting space facilities.” 

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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.