Utility Expo and NGA Show Pull Off Successful In-Person Editions

October 11, 2021

While the Delta variant has certainly thrown a wrench in the industry’s recovery machine, major trade shows are continuing to happen in personpandemic or no pandemic. Check out two recent events that not only took place safely and successfully but also exceeded expectations. 

Utility Expo

As the largest premier event for utility professionals and construction contractors, The Utility Expo (formerly ICUEE) is known for showcasing the latest and greatest in cutting-edge industry technologies, innovations and trends. This year, the biennial event not only did just that but also in an expansive way, breaking its own record as the largest in its history, with more than 950 companies spanning more than 1.4 million net square feet of indoor and expanded outdoor expo space. 

Held Sept. 28-30 at the Kentucky Exhibition Center in Louisville, Ky., the show drew more than 16,500 attendees, including decision-makers from major utility companies from across the country, who flocked to the event to view specialized exhibits and product unveilings, participate in hands-on test drives and demonstrations, learn about the latest industry innovations, make purchasing decisions, take advantage of unique educational opportunities and network with industry peers from all utility sectors.

“It was significant to be able to safely and successfully operate The Utility Expo this year,” said Dave Hughes, vice president of global sales for McElroy Manufacturing, Inc. and 2021 show chair. “The new and expanded show layout, fabulous weather, innovative products and technologies, and engaged crowds all contributed to a very successful event.” 

Utility Expo 2021

Across more than 30 acres of equipment, products and technologies, exhibitors such as Jamie Gardner, brand manager for trade shows and events at Milwaukee Tool, said that while the company wasn’t sure what to expect, the show did not disappoint. 

“We are thrilled with the number of decision-makers who are at the show and the engaging conversations we were able to have,” Gardner said from the expo floor. “The number of leads we were able to acquire exceeded our expectations and we are looking forward to 2023.” 

Given the extraordinary circumstances around in-person events, show officials said they were excited to be able to produce the show as planned and meet the needs of its industry.

“We [were] glad to bring the utility industry back together in person again this year,” said John Rozum, show director for The Utility Expo, which is owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). “We have a long history and strong partnership with the Kentucky Exposition Center and the communityit [was] good to be back here in Louisville.” 

According to show officials, this strong partnership with the KEC started in 1987 when the show required a facility with indoor and outdoor exhibit space capable of handling demos and test drives for cranes, earth-movers and heavy-duty trucks. And thanks to the venue’s expanded outdoor space, the show has extended its contract there through 2029.

The Utility Expo will return to the Kentucky Exposition Center Sept. 26-28, 2023.

NGA Show

The independent supermarket industry recently enjoyed a big welcome back with the in-person return of its marquee event, The NGA Show. Held Sept. 19-21 at the Paris Las Vegas, the 38th annual conference and trade show, along with its sister event, the NGA 2021 Executive Conference, drew more than 2,300 independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers from nearly all 50 states. 

Produced and managed by Clarion Events as part of its Food & Beverage Group in partnership with the National Grocers Association, The NGA Show featured a sold-out exhibit hall showcasing new products and services from nearly 300 vendors, inspiring keynotes, 50-plus educational sessions led by more than 100 speakers discussing the latest issues facing the food retail industry and plentiful networking opportunities and special events.

The NGA Show 2021

“After 18 of the most challenging months our industry has ever faced, we are honored and excited to be returning to Las Vegas with an in-person NGA Show to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our ‘supermarket superheroes’,” said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara at the show’s opening. “The NGA Show continues to be the marquee event for the supermarket industry to network and learn best practices. We’re already looking forward to returning to Las Vegas next spring to celebrate NGA’s 40th anniversary.”

This year also marked the first time that the NGA Executive Conference and The NGA Show were held in the same location. 

Designed to enable CEOs and their leadership teams to increase profitability and enhance business opportunities, the invitation-only NGA Executive Conference took place Sept. 18-19 and featured networking events, enhanced educational sessions and expanded opportunities for trading partners to connect. 

Both events featured enhanced safety protocols for attendees, who were required to wear masks at all indoor events and present proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to gain entry.

“The combined experience of the Executive Conference and NGA Show delivered actionable insights to help their businesses embrace the opportunities available to the most aggressive innovators,” Ferrara said. “We’re excited about what our attendees will be taking home with them, and we’ll continue to build on this as we return for the 2022 NGA Show in just a few months.” 

The NGA Show 2022 is scheduled for Feb. 27–March 1, 2022, at the CAESARS FORUM Conference Center in Las Vegas.


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

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.