(Filed Under wholesale Costume News). The Halloween & Party Expo will be held February 6 through 9, 2015 in New Orleans. BODY interviewed show executive Jonathan Erwin about how the event is shaping up.
BODY: From the exhibitor point of view, how will the show in New Orleans be different than Houston? What are some of the main points?
ERWIN: The freshly renovated New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is the sixth largest convention facility in the nation, and it consistently ranks in the country’s top ten of facilities that hold the most conventions and trades hows annually. Exhibitors will be impressed with this state of the art facility. As New Orleans boasts, events held in their city just aren’t the same as events held in other cities. Smiles are brighter. Handshakes are more energetic. Everyone is simply excited to be in one of the world’s most storied and culturally rich destinations.
And, while Exhibitors want to show their products during show hours, they absolutely want to wine and dine buyers after the Expo closes. New Orleans is a city that never closes. And if an exhibitor hasn’t closed a sale over dinner, they can do it over music. New Orleans lives and breathes music—especially jazz. From the streets of the French Quarter to the dance club, these beautiful sounds fill New Orleans. This abundant music scene allows exhibitors to treat buyers to NOLA’s best local musicians seven days a week.
BODY: From a buyer’s point of view, how will the show in New Orleans be different than Houston? What are some of the major differences?
ERWIN: The buyers will be doused with atmosphere and energy in New Orleans. They are selling party and Halloween to their customers year round; The Halloween & Party Expo is their time to party and celebrate the industry, store successes, and just have fun. And, let’s face it, New Orleans is a fun town. The excitement of New Orleans transforms an obligatory business trip into an unexpected experience. As the convention and visitor’s bureau advertises, New Orleans is the perfect get away place. The scenery isn’t all that changes…it’s a city that parties year around. Visiting New Orleans will rouse buyers’ spirits.
The show floor will also provide two 20 foot aisles versus the one from previous years. This will open up the floor and allow for easier navigation. Also, as always, we will continue to tweak things to further enhance the overall show experience.
BODY: Will the show be larger, smaller or the same size in terms of the number of exhibitors?
ERWIN: Exhibit sales are pacing at the highest they have been since 2012. We are already 95% sold on booth space. There are more companies coming in to exhibit in New Orleans. We are searching for ways to include everyone who wants to be a part of the show. There is no doubt the booth space will sell out this year at max capacity.
BODY: What will the buyer attendance be like?
ERWIN: HPE will have the industry’s buying groups, independent buyers, as well as representatives from the large chain stores. Hotel reservations are pacing better than ever and we are looking forward to a big crowd.
BODY: Are you getting a number of New Orleans exhibitors and buyers that you did not get in Houston?
ERWIN: The show will definitely be larger this year. We initially were conservative with the floor plan considering the move. But response to the move by exhibitors has been overwhelming. We’re in the process of expanding to add additional booth space. We have all the top exhibitors who have been with us in the past and are getting exhibitors who have never been with us before. The show is looking great, diverse and industry-represented. To date, 10 percent of the exhibitor base is made up of new exhibitors.
BODY: What about the overall Halloween market this year?
ERWIN: This is going to be a great year for the Halloween market. After all, we are selling for a Saturday Halloween in 2015. Also, costuming has become a year-round affair. People love dressing up, regardless of the season, and that’s driving growth.
BODY: Anything else about the upcoming show?
ERWIN: Buyers should make an effort to arrive early enough the night leading into the opening day, Thursday, February 5th as this is when the Kick-Off Party will take place. The event will be hosted by Party & Paper Retailer and provide a live band, live entertainers, food, drink and more. It’s the 2015 event not to miss.
Since this year’s Expo will take place very close to Mardi Gras, everyone is encouraged to make their hotel reservations as soon as possible. And, while in town, visitors should try and see some of the early Mardi Gras parades and festivities.
There are many surprises in store for both exhibitors and buyers, so attend in 2015 to See What’s Behind the Mask!
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