With less than five weeks 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 300 exhibitors across 60+ product categories, 128 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 Brad Hobson, CEM, Assistant Director of Business Development for Freeman who shared his most memorable Expo! Expo! experiences.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are your current responsibilities?
Freeman is the world’s leading brand experience company, and for over 90 years we’ve helped our customers create engaging live experiences for their most important audiences. I have the pleasure of working on our business development team, where I lead a small team of managers in Dallas and maintain a portfolio of both local and national customers.
As the Assistant Director of Business Development, I work very closely with our client solutions team on account strategies and to help our clients produce amazing events.
Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas? If so, what programming are you looking forward to experiencing?
Yes! Vegas will be a great location. Mandalay Bay puts us all under one roof, with Las Vegas at our front doorstep. It will be exciting to have the “show for shows” in one of the top cities for trade shows!
Each year, I look forward to the IAEE Chapter Leaders Forum. This is one of the few times throughout the year when chapter leaders can collaborate with each other, learn from past experiences, and discuss new opportunities. The more heads you put together, the greater the outcome.
Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?
Attending Expo! Expo! started out as a rite of passage due to my involvement in the DFW chapter. My first time attending Expo! Expo! I expanded my network of industry colleagues and gained valuable skills that prepared me to lead the IAEE DFW Chapter. Freeman offered the opportunity to a Young Professional, and I have never looked back. Now, five years later, Expo! Expo! is a reunion with friends and colleagues. The trade show floor is a time to explore new ideas with customers that will help them better plan engaging and educational events. It is a place where we connect with cities, venues, and customers to build partnerships that last a lifetime. Education sessions allow me to have a deeper understanding of the industry and the variety of solutions and strategies available to customers today. Finally, the after-hour events provide great opportunities to network and discuss new, synergistic opportunities!
What education sessions caught your attention at Expo! Expo! in the past? Did you have any takeaways from those sessions?
Sessions with content outside of my “every day” duties are often the most valuable for me. For example, sessions such as hotel contract management, event technology implementation, and innovative strategies always catch my attention. And sessions from other contractors and agencies allow me to better understand new solutions and bring a broader point of view when supporting my customers. I strive to be a well-rounded partner for my clients, and knowing what is out there as far as industry trends helps me make informed recommendations for them. I am also looking forward to several sessions from Freeman that will showcase our broadened offerings and solutions for our customers.
How do you approach your time spent at Expo! Expo!?
I prepare at least a week in advance to organize my calendar, pack wisely, and get plenty of shut eye! Many hours are spent checking my session selections and checking in with friends and colleagues to see what they plan to attend.
I work hard to maximize my time on-site. I have a list of new companies I want to visit on the tradeshow floor. I make a list of who I need to visit from each city or convention/visitors bureau (CVB) and where my meet ups will be. Then, I make a list of the sessions I plan to attend and rate them in case any overlap.
Last but not least, I review the attendee list to make I know who will be there. I like to send emails in advance to clients and friends to make sure we coordinate on when and where to meet up and to help us all make the most of our time. This preparation helps make it easy for me to fully enjoy my time at Expo! Expo! and to get the most out of my trip.
Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!.
In 2015, I was the vice chair of the DFW Chapter. That year was a learning experience. I was taking on a new role with Freeman, and alongside that, I was focused on growing the DFW chapter.
As the year was wrapping up, I received a call from IAEE HQ letting me know I had been awarded the Merit Award for my service in the chapter that year. Accepting that award in front of my peers was breathtaking. Seeing my name on the big screen and knowing I had made a difference was extremely impactful.
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?
Put work down for four days, make sure you can focus on the conference ahead of you, and schedule off times to reconnect to the office for HOT items.
List out the education sessions that you must attend and might attend when you have time. There will be times you need to reconnect back to the office, catch up with an old friend, or take a networking opportunity.
Review the floor plan, make a list of those companies/exhibitors you want to see. Schedule appointments with those you MUST talk with. This way, they are focused on you and not everyone else at the same time.
Bring your business cards, and a large wardrobe. It goes without saying comfortable shoes are a must.
Trade show floor, education and networking…all in one place. Join Brad and attend the “show for shows” in Las Vegas this year. Register today!