Putting our cards on the tableBy Megan Tanel, AEM Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Events

I recently returned from Carson City, the capital of Nevada, where I testified in front of the state Senate and Assembly regarding needed funding for an expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center. I was one of four executives of associations that own and manage trade shows in Las Vegas who were asked to provide support for the request. 

Joining me were senior executives from the Consumer Technology Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the International Council of Shopping Centers – all of whom own top 100 trade shows. 

My role in testifying in front of the state legislators was to provide them with customer-based testimony that if they build it, we will stay. My message was: we need additional space and we need it to be first-class!

Consistently, show after show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG runs out of space to accommodate the needs of our industry to showcase and sell their equipment and services.  We also continue to see a shift to more requests for indoor space; typically, the indoor space sells out one year prior to the show. 

Our comparison events are those in Europe and Asia – places where brand-new facilities are plentiful and the technology and design are top-notch. Las Vegas and its aged convention center (some parts of which go back to its original construction nearly 60 years ago) give a feeling of the “old Vegas,” not in alignment with the new hotels and entertainment facilities that continue to open. 

Feedback from those in attendance at the legislative sessions was positive, and apparently having customers speak to the need for expansion made a difference. 

During a special legislative session, Nevada state lawmakers approved a bill paving the way for development of the Las Vegas Convention Center District, a $1.4 billion project that will add 600,000 square feet of new exhibit and meeting space and secure Las Vegas’ position as the world’s premier business destination.

On October 17th, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law.

Unfortunately, we won’t see any enhancements in effect for the 2017 CONEXPO-CON/AGG event, but fortunately we won’t be impacted by construction on the upgraded space as it will start post-March 2017. 

Of course, knowing that the approval was given for the financing, keep an eye on any of your customers in Nevada – who have a big project coming up, creating a great opportunity to sell some equipment in advance to them this March!