IAEE Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary at Expo! Expo!

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IAEE Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary at Expo! Expo!

By Rich Luna | Dec 12, 2018

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) is celebrating its 90th anniversary Mardi Gras style.

The group’s annual conference, Expo! Expo!, kicked off Tuesday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans with a brass band parade leading a second line of attendees out of the opening general session into a three-day event filled with education, networking and IAEE’s largest trade show in 17 years.

The opening day was capped by a reception at the famed Mardi Gras World where attendees went behind the scenes to see where floats are designed and built for Mardi Gras and other parades around the world.

Even David Dubois, president and CEO of IAEE, was caught up in the spirit of New Orleans, dancing with the brass band at the end of an opening session highlighted by nearly 80 members who strutted across the stage after earning their Certified Exhibition Management (CEM) certification and a keynote address from Nancy Giordano, founder and CEO of Play Big Inc., on how technology, demographics and values are disrupting the future of work and talent.

About 2,300 attendees were expected to attend the event, the largest gathering of trade show organizers. There are nearly 300 exhibitors, the highest number since 2001, Dubois said.

More than 100 educations are being offered at Expo! Expo!

Exhibitions and events are a key player in the meeting and event space, contributing more than $91 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) each year and attracting more than 33 million attendees at events. Business events contributed to a total global GDP impact of $1.5 trillion.

Although previously announced, attendees were reminded of the Global MICE Collaborative, an initiative between IAEE, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE). The three organizations have combined forces to provide training and resources to help train and develop professionals involved in the industry segment known as Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, or MICE, in three growing regions of the world—Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Giordano, the opening session keynote, focused her presentation on how behaviors and attitudes are changing and the impact on our lives.

She posed two questions to attendees: What does that future expect of us and what are we in a unique position to create for it?

She shared insights on how technology changes, growth in information and cultural shifts are increasing exponentially. She encouraged attendees to “play big” with these tools: wonder vs. resist; navigate vs. replicate; leaderING vs. leaderSHIP; connect vs. alone; and be audacious vs. incremental.

IAEE is celebrating 90 years in New Orleans, which is celebrating its tricentennial. Stephen Perry, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, and Michael Sawaya, president and general manager of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, shared updates on new developments in the city’s meetings, convention and trade show infrastructure, part of a $1.5 billion plan. Included in the plan is a seven-and-a-half-acre pedestrian walkway outside the convention center, the addition of a headquarters hotel with 1,200 rooms and other renovations. The city’s Louis Armstrong International Airport is also being updated with a new, 35-gate, $1.029 billion terminal set to open in May.

Perry thanked attendees for coming to New Orleans, “one of the most sensory places in America.”

IAEE has more than 10,000 members in 52 countries who are directly involved in the planning, management and production of exhibitions and buyer-seller events. IAEE also advocates for key issues such as safety and security, travel facilitation, online booking issues and infrastructure investment.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.