Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Thousands of event industry professionals will gather this week at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the largest “meeting about meetings” in the world.
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2017, Expo! Expo!, has brought an estimated 2,000 people to San Antonio for the six-day convention, billed as the “show of shows.” Exhibition and events industry professionals attend the convention to learn about the latest industry trends and technology, and network with like-minded professionals.
The opportunity to show off San Antonio as a meeting destination to event organizers is a bonus for Visit San Antonio.
Meetings and conventions represent a major driver for visitation in San Antonio each year, “which makes this week’s opportunity to host the IAEE Expo! Expo! conference significant,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio. “Hosting these buyers gives the local convention community an opportunity to showcase San Antonio and all the assets that make our destination such a draw for groups.
“We aspire to have these customers bring their own events to the city, and experiencing San Antonio is the best sales tool to do so.”
There are nearly 300 exhibitors at this year’s event, from security provider Alamo Services of New Orleans to software company Zendesk of San Francisco, and a full slate of presenters and programming.
Keynote speaker Ryan Estis will officially open the convention Tuesday afternoon. Estis is the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency NAS. Meetings & Conventions Magazine recently named Estis one of “the best keynote speakers ever heard,” alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, and Mike Ditka.
The Association of Exhibitions and Events also invited Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation president and chief executive officer, to serve on a speaker panel Tuesday discussing women’s leadership experiences. Maria Garcia, vice president of community engagement at CPS Energy, will participate in that panel discussion as well.
Wednesday’s keynote speaker is Valorie Burton, author of 11 books on personal development, Emmy-nominated television host, and certified personal and executive coach.
Also on Wednesday, and new to the annual event, is the first Tech Start Up Competition. The leaders of 19 event technology startups will pitch their products and compete to win bragging rights. The pitches will be evaluated by five judges, including Jeff Moore, an information technology professional from the Austin Convention Center, which is a sponsor of the competition along with Visit Austin.
Founded in 1928, IAEE is the largest association of exhibitions and events industry professionals in the world, with members including show organizers, exhibitors, and exhibition suppliers, who support more than 20,000 exhibitions and buyer-seller events around the world.
The 2016 Expo! Expo! in Anaheim, Calif., attracted more than 2,200 attendees to the Anaheim Convention Center.