Philadelphia Flower Show: Almost Two Centuries Old, Still Going Strong

March 7, 2013

The Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest indoor flower show, opened its doors March 2 for the 185th year, and visitors from all over the world experienced 10 acres of floral fantasy.


This year’s theme was “Brilliant!” That’s not an opinion, it comes from the British word for something that’s inventive, dazzling, extraordinary. As in, “that hat you are wearing is brilliant!”


As you can imagine, a show that’s run for this length of time has seen its share of boom times and lean years.


Stephanie Policastro, communications specialist for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, said, “Although the economy has seen its ups and downs, The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show has continued to grow in attendance for the past three consecutive years; and the 2013 Show is on track to surpass the 2012 guest attendance of 270,000.”


An extra day was added to the show this year so that it now includes two full weekends.


“In recent years the show has had a $61 million economic impact on the Greater Philadelphia area,” said Drew Becker, President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.


He added, “Extending its run will increase that impact by boosting retail and restaurant business and hotel stays throughout the region.”


Through special events such as the LGBT Party and Girls Night Out, they are attracting a younger and diverse crowd. Even men are drawn to the show through a new addition this year, The Backyard, a space where grilling, lawn care and recreation are the focus of attention.


One visitor at the show, Bob Cameron, was there to get information on living walls to take back to China where he will be teaching.


This almost two-century-old organization is anything but old school. They are actively using the Web and social media tools to market their event.


“For the first time this year, the Flower Show is using Instagram as a way to share photos from the Show and to see, share, and comment on the fun times had by our visitors,” Policastro said.


She added, “PHS … also has a robust Pinterest account with boards that celebrate British culture, showcase unusual plants, provide flower-arranging advice and more.”


They are keeping in touch with show attendees, exhibitors and special guests through Twitter and Facebook. This allows them to answer guest questions and promote special events and attractions.


“It is important to us to build a community of people who are passionate about plants and have made the Flower Show an annual tradition,” Policastro said.


Also new to the Flower Show this year is the “New Plant Showcase”, featuring recently developed varieties of flowers and plants by internationally acclaimed growers and the “Make and Take” workshops, which gives visitors a chance to create and take home their own creative projects.


James Coplestone, with Wonderland Bronze out of Dorset, England, is a new exhibitor at the Flower Show.


“U.S. citizens visiting the Chelsea Flower Show advised me to come here,” she said. “It’s been a very positive experience. I sold the Mad Hatter sculpture the very first day.” Wonderland Bronze is part of “The Mad Tea Party” exhibit, along with florist Petals Lane.


As Chris Demalta with EP Henry watched the crowd gathered around his exhibit -“A Tranquil Garden Comes to Life!”- he said, “the show has been great. Attendees are positive and ready for spring.”



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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.