Trade Shows to Watch as Comeback Gears Up

May 28, 2021
Trade Shows to Watch as Comeback Gears Up

Fittingly, World of Concrete in Las Vegas will signal the return of trade shows as we know them. After all, the event organizers are looking to build a foundation of safety measures and business development in executing trade shows that remind the world of just how valuable meeting in-person can be.

While Surf Expo and other shows have drawn applause for operating during the pandemic, the schedule gets decidedly more crowded starting in June. Las Vegas will be fully open and other destinations will not be far behind. Buoyed by vaccination progress, a precipitous drop in COVID-19 cases and newly relaxed CDC guidelines, the recovery is about to be kicked up more than a few notches.

Here are few of the notable events across the country to watch as shows are finally ready to go on.

Las Vegas

World of Concrete
June 8-10
Las Vegas Convention Center

Guided by Informa AllSecure, show organizers have created a template to welcome thousands of attendees while maintaining social distancing and limiting touchpoints. WOC attracts approximately 1,500 exhibiting companies and occupies more than 700,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, typically drawing 60,000 industry professionals, though that number will surely be less this year. Notably, this is the first of a series of 10 other keystone Vegas-based events Informa plans to operate through the end of the year.

VDTA • SDTA International Trade Show and Convention
June 12-14
Paris Hotel Conference Center

If returning to events feels like starting over for most of the industry, that holds doubly true here. CKC Management assumed management of this 40-year-old association’s show last July and Cindy Cummins took over as executive director. While hopes to reconvene in April were dashed, Cummins said it was too important to let another year pass (the last event was February 2019) without members meeting face-to-face. “We knew how crucial it was to get these retailer members together to help chart the direction for the Sewing and Floorcare industry and ultimately the next several years of this association,” she said.

Organizers predict about 50% of normal attendee numbers and 30% of typical exhibitors at the Paris. “We anticipate the exhibitors that are at this show will do really well with serious buyer attendees,” Cummins noted. Sessions will be limited to 60% capacity and the opening cocktail reception will be on the outdoor pool deck in a nod to safety. Masks will be encouraged for anyone in the exhibit halls who is not vaccinated.

World Education Congress
June 15-17
Caesars Forum

MPI has appropriately themed this annual industry event, “Make Your Future.” The show marks the return to its traditional Summer home after going forward last November in Grapevine, Texas. The goal is to give event professionals a blueprint for what conferences and live events will look like in a post-pandemic world. Initial estimates forecast approximately 1,500 in-person attendees and an additional 1,500 digital participants, MPI recently reported. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for MPI and our industry to meet the pent-up demand of a community of individuals whose entire sense of purpose was disrupted for a full calendar year,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International. “Imagine the excitement surrounding the first event back in 2021 while offering an experience where our attendees can make their future.”


Sweets & Snacks Expo
June 22-25
Indiana Convention Center

The National Confectioners Association was forced to relocate this year from its traditional home in Chicago. Indianapolis appears to be a sweet spot for the show, which typically draws 8,000 attendees. As of mid-May, 2,250 retail attendees representing 1,400 banners were registered and more than 70 suppliers to the candy and snacks industry had confirmed attendance. An important guideline for a show like this: All sample products must be individually wrapped (no putting your hand in the cookie jar!). Masks and social distancing rules also apply.

“This year, this event is even more important as confectionery and snack products have helped consumers improve their emotional well-being during a challenging time,” said John Downs, president & CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “We know after a year of treating and snacking at home during the pandemic, they’re hungry for new product innovation from their favorite brands.”

Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show
June 29-July 2
Indiana Convention Center

This in-person show is being executed four months after a virtual event in February. Using Informa AllSecure as its basis for safety, the event, pushed back a month from its original dates, will have all the trademarks of the COVID era. Organizers hope to match previous totals of 8,700 professionals in the sanitation industry.


June 6-9
Georgia World Congress Center

The return to in-person begins two weeks before the online element of this annual event geared toward the high frequency electronics industry. More than 300 companies have committed to fill more than 60,000 square feet of space, signaling a readying to return to business as close to usual as possible. Buffets and food stations are off the table as other safety measures are being developed in accordance with CDC guidelines. Masks will be mandatory.

June 11-13
Georgia World Congress Center

The largest CBD and Hemp event begins an international tour in Atlanta, touting the city’s accessibility to major cities in the Southeast. The event, which is open to the public, promises more than 300 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees.


Vision Expo East
June 2-5
Orange County Convention Center

The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions are expecting more than 5,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors at this eyecare and eyewear industry event. In an effort to bolster strong attendance, both entities agreed to keep registration free this year. While limitations on international travel will keep numbers lower than normal, organizers are confident that the event will be one to be seen. 

“What’s so exciting about Vision Expo East Orlando is that we are expecting a comparable ratio of attendees to exhibitors as a typical Show, just on a smaller scale,” said Fran Pennella, vice president of Vision Expo/Reed Exhibitions. “The density of exhibitors and attendees is still on-track to be the same as a typical Show, which is just incredible and speaks to the industry’s readiness for the first national trade show since 2019.”

Auto Glass Week
June 7-9
Orange County Convention Center

Auto glass repair and replacement are ready to roll for this event that is partnering with nearby Rosen Plaza and Rosen Centre. Organizers are counting on the excitement of reuniting in-person and $50,000 worth of prizes to generate more than 1,000 attendees. 

“We are definitely sensing the industry’s excitement for our first event since 2019,” said Tricia Lopez, senior events director. “The depth of the educational program, the extensive number of new products and the competitions themselves (with more than $50,000 in prizes) will make this an exciting and memorable event for the auto glass industry.”

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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.