With less than a month until Expo! Expo!, the excitement for the “show for shows” is rising. Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition prepares show organizers for a better year ahead. With over 280 exhibitors across 60+ product categories, 142 education sessions and plenty of networking opportunities, attendees will leave with insights and connections that will prove to be beneficial for their shows in the upcoming year. IAEE interviewed Paula Lerash, CEM, who shared her memorable Expo! Expo! experiences.

Tell us a little about yourself. What were your responsibilities at Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)?   

As Director of Exhibits for Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), I oversaw the exhibit floor for HITEC North America, HITEC Europe and HITEC Dubai. The largest event is HITEC North America with over 90,000 square feet of exhibit space with 450 companies. I also oversaw the sponsorship program, and both education and meeting space for exhibitors.

Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?   

I enjoy the networking at Expo! Expo! and have made lifelong friendships. It is invaluable to have colleagues in your industry who can discuss your show’s challenges with and share ideas on how you can do things differently. CPJ_9974

How do show organizers like yourself benefit from attending Expo! Expo!? 

I enjoy the education I have received over the years from anything that is growing my attendance to redesigning my trade show floor to keeping up with technology trends or how to increase sponsorships.

What education session caught your attention at Expo! Expo! in the past? Did you have any takeaways from the session? 

I really enjoy the new Women in Leadership portion of the education program. It is a great way for us to find work/life balance, which I believe is a challenge for most of us!


Were there any insights from Expo! Expo! that you implemented in your organization? If so, what were they? 

I have implemented many of the sponsorship ideas in the past, and always have come back with ideas on redesigning our floor plan for what is the best layout and good for traffic building.  I enjoy shopping the exhibit floor and coming back with new mobile app vendors as well as other unique things to bring to our event.

How do you approach your time spent at Expo! Expo!? 

I make lists and appointments with exhibitors I need to meet with first and try to maximize my time on the floor. I enjoy the 10-minute Pit Stop sessions on the show floor that have been offered the past couple of years.


Why is it important to be involved with one’s local chapter? 

Being involved locally is where it all begins. Being involved in your chapter helps you become a better leader, keep up with industry trends as well as network on a local level.  Most of all, it is fun!

Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!

The most unforgettable moment for me was personally meeting Don Freeman and getting my picture taken with him when I received my CEM on stage. It was comparable to meeting a celebrity.


If you were talking to someone who had not attended Expo! Expo! and was considering going, what would you say to him/her?

Expo! Expo! is the best trade show for show organizers that you can ever attend.  The networking is invaluable and you will never stop learning.

What tip would you give to a first-time attendee that you wish someone had told you when you attended Expo! Expo! for the first time?

Wear comfortable shoes and bring aspirin. You are on the move all the time and may burn the candle at both ends for a few days but it’s all worth it!

What is one event or program that attendees cannot miss at Expo! Expo! that you thoroughly enjoy?

I would not miss the show floor, which is where I run into industry peers that I only get to see once a year. I also enjoy the opening reception. The host city usually does some impressive things and you can see what they have to offer.


Trade show floor, education and networking…all in one place. Attend the “show for shows” in vibrant New Orleans this year. Register today.


Posted by Jannat Choudhury

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