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Why I Attend Expo! Expo!: An Interview with Sallee Pavlovich, CEM

Sallee Pavlovich, CEM of New Orleans and Company shares her expansive #ExpoExpo journey detailing her first attendance in 1980 to how she played a key role in the epic 90th anniversary celebration of IAEE at 2018 #ExpoExpo in New Orleans!

Putting on a trade show from the ground up involves many moving parts and teams. A crucial partnership for Expo! Expo! is that of show management and host city. In 2018, Expo! Expo! was held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition provides attendees with a diverse marketplace to view and assess the tools needed to plan and manage successful trade shows and events for years to come. Here, IAEE spoke with Sallee Pavlovich, CEM of New Orleans & Company as she shared her perspective as a part of the Expo! Expo! host city team.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the Director of Corporate and Tradeshow Sales at New Orleans & Company, formerly the CVB. I’ve been working for New Orleans & Company three times on and off since 1980. Love working in New Orleans and for this organization!

Why do you attend Expo! Expo!? And how many years have you attended Expo! Expo!?

I have been attending Expo! Expo! since 1980. It was my first industry meeting, which interestingly enough was held in New Orleans. It was a great experience for me. In the early points in my career, I was not too familiar with the trade show industry. But after attending Expo! Expo!, it allowed me to network with industry peers and expand my overall knowledge.

In all the years attending Expo! Expo!, I’ve enjoyed each year attending from the standpoint of being an attendee, committee member and host city partner.

Show Opening

Last year, Expo! Expo! was held in New Orleans and you worked with the IAEE team closely in making sure the host city was represented throughout Expo! Expo!. What can you say about that experience? How did New Orleans benefit from hosting Expo! Expo!?

This past year, we had the good fortune of hosting Expo! Expo!. This was our fourth time hosted in New Orleans. I can’t believe it’s been here four times! It has also been an honor to host IAEE because each year we hosted; it’s been a worthwhile experience.

2018 Expo! Expo! was a lot of fun because IAEE was celebrating their 90th anniversary and New Orleans was celebrating its 300th. We incorporated those celebrations throughout the event with partners, vendors and attendees to showcase the versatility and culture of New Orleans. With that being said, I think Expo! Expo! was a raging success.

IAEE New Orleans Team

Everything with the partnership between New Orleans, IAEE and the other vendor partners was tremendous. From beginning to end, it was documented so we were able to improve and tweak things to make the attendee experience better. The end result was a huge success.

What education sessions caught your attention at Expo! Expo! in the past?

Last year, I loved the General Sessions and Women’s Leadership Experience. Since the inception of Executive Breakfast, which are extraordinarily educational, I have attended the session every year.

Apart from being a host city, the New Orleans team is a long-term partner of IAEE on many educational offerings. The New Orleans & Company and the Ernest N. Morial Convention are long-term proponents of education for the trade show industry. We have been an Expo! Expo! education session track partner as well as the signature partners for IAEE webinars for years.

Session Partner Track

Were there any insights from Expo! Expo! that you implemented in your organization?

Since Expo! Expo! was hosted in New Orleans, a lot of the team members at New Orleans & Company were able to attend and experience the networking and learning on and off the show floor. It was easier to bounce off ideas and share what we had learned as a group, instead of a few people sharing if the event were out of town.

We liked how the trade show floor was set up last year so our team made a note of it for future idea. So, whenever show organizers plan to hold their trade show in New Orleans, we could suggest that type of layout to them.

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

New Orleans & Company partners with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center team on practically everything that we do. It’s always important we collaborate on our meetings, networking and trade show time. We try to get as much as we can done individually and as a group.

New Orleans Booth

One of the most important aspects of Expo! Expo! are the meetings we have on the trade show floor. We get to see our current clients as well as meet new clients.  We were formally the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau for 50 years and rebranded our organization to New Orleans & Company. By hosting Expo! Expo! in New Orleans, we were able to communicate the new brand quickly through face-to-face meetings, advertising and social media initiatives.  It was a great opportunity for us!

One of the things we really enjoyed is our ongoing participation and partnership in the Summit Club. That is a great hangout spot for us to connect with IAEE members who have maintained their membership for 10+ years. It’s well worth it.

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

The Opening Krewe Party in New Orleans last year was phenomenal. We incorporated a Mardi Gras theme into the opening reception. Also, we added a surprise flash mob performance at the opening reception to The Greatest Showman song. It was a real hit with the attendees. Although it was a little chilly outside, I think a lot of people enjoyed themselves. The last people to leave were way past the time that the opening reception normally closes. It was a very good signal to know that people were enjoying all that New Orleans could offer.

Opening Party

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

I would absolutely tell them that Expo! Expo! is where they need to be. Not just from an experiential standpoint but seeing the trade show floor and all the aspects of the ever-changing business is invaluable. You get to see different solutions in terms of emerging technology. You will see the different types of booths exhibitors are setting up. You’ll learn what’s trending in the education sessions and the different vertical markets.

If you’re in the trade show business and you’re not attending Expo! Expo! or any IAEE events, you’re missing the boat. If you’re interested in furthering your career, I recommend earning the  CEM designation. I have found the journey to be a wonderful experience. Attending Expo! Expo! allows you to take CEM courses and attend education sessions, which are great for CEMs looking for recertification hours.

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

Obviously, attendees cannot miss Expo! Expo! as a whole, but if I had to choose just one, I would choose the General Sessions. They are always fantastic.

General Session

Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas? If so, what programming are you looking forward to experiencing?

Yes of course, I will be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to Women’s Leadership Experience, the General Sessions, Executive Breakfast and the Chapter Receptions. I can’t wait for Las Vegas. I just looked at the Schedule at a Glance and what’s planned so far looks fantastic.


Register for #ExpoExpo by 21 October to receive early bird pricing! Visit the Expo! Expo! site for more information.

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