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Trade Shows & Events

Athletic Business ’11: Expo designed to entice, educate, not distract

Compact hours for the Athletic Business Conference’s expo separates most seminars from the trade show hours, allowing attendees to focus. SNEWS talks to show staff to find out how this works, plus gets insights on other on-site events.

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A compact expo floor with afternoon-only hours doesn’t mean the exhibitors are an afterthought at the Athletic Business Conference.

The design is meant to allow attendees to spend their mornings focusing on education, then dash to the exhibit hall where they get lunch and spend the afternoon targeting their shopping list.

“This makes the show the priority,” said Adam O’Brien, conference and expo exhibits director for the show (ABC), this year Dec. 1-3 in Orlando, Fla.

“We want to give attendees the time to go to the seminars, but they can still get to the show and not have scheduling conflicts,” O’Brien added. “We want to have them focus on each part wholeheartedly and not have to make a decision about where they’re going.”

Three decades ago when the event began, it was mostly about seminars, he said. The expo in fact just kept growing over the years to the point where it has reached equal footing with the conference (

Companies exhibiting — more than 300 are expected, a big jump up from 62 its first year – include most of the big players in equipment but also a wide variety of categories needed by both for-profit and non-profit facilities but also for segments such as military or government (

Many exhibitors show up with distinct shopping lists they are looking to fulfill, from lockers and towels, to flooring and scoreboards, to climbing walls and lighting. That means the two days of hours (Dec. 1, 1-6 p.m.; Dec. 2, 1:30-5 p.m.) are packed.

“This schedule gives exhibitors the fully focused attention of the attendees,” O’Brien said. “We also keep the hours short so the exhibitors have full opportunity to entertain customers in the evenings.”

Technogym is one of the few companies launching a new product – the Med Leg Press is geared toward the medical audience attracted by the Medical Fitness Association conference’s co-location at ABC. Technogym will also bring its Kinesis Stations to ABC for the first time after launching them at the 2011 IHRSA show.

Events and more

Despite education, exhibits and company entertainment, there’s more:

>> The Industry Party (a.k.a. Networking Reception) on Dec. 1, the first evening, is moving off-site after being in the ballroom the last two years. Buses will shuttle party-goers to the Hard Rock Live at Universal CityWalk for the 7-10 p.m. event.

>> If attendees didn’t stay out too late, an early morning workout on Dec. 2, the second day (6:30-8:30 a.m.) allows testing and plenty of sweat.

>> An on-floor Demo Stage has a full lineup of demonstrations and classes nearly every 20 minutes, with participants from Relay Fitness, RealRyder, Les Mills, Spri and Zumba, among others.

>> A Free-Throw area “gets competitive,” O’Brien said, with the $1 per chance going to charity and attracting all levels.

To see various registration options, including a free trade-show-only pass, click here.

Therese Iknoian