Why do you attend trade shows? We recently asked online survey participants that very same question, and we will share those survey responses later in this article. As multiple water industries, including the point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) water treatment market, convene April 21-24 in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center for WQA Aquatech USA 2015, thousands have prepared to have their questions answered and solutions to their work challenges found. This is the one big opportunity of the year to meet under one roof with manufacturers, dealers, consultants and other major players in the POU and POE market. From technical engineers to marketing and sales professionals, attendees will have unlimited access to new technologies and leading research information.

Convention city

In Las Vegas alone in 2013, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s (LVCVA) market research, more than 39 million people visited the city. Of these visitors, over 5.1 million were convention delegates attending 22,027 conventions. On average, according to vegasmeansbusiness.com, trade show attendance increases by 13 percent when conventions come to Las Vegas. Research also shows that attendees spend more time in meetings and on the trade show floor when programs are held in Las Vegas.

In other words, Las Vegas has become a popular destination for business conventions. However, whether it is your first time or it is your 19th time attending this annual convention, planning and setting goals is one of the best ways to maximize your time at this trade show and others.

In addition to an exciting and popular host city, WQA Aquatech USA 2015 will coincide with the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) OneShowSM and International Carwash Association (ICA) The Car Wash Show™ trade shows. And, since water touches these industries as well, the potential return on investment for attending this year’s WQA Aquatech USA has seemingly tripled.

New for this year’s show

What’s new this year, and what should attendees plan to see as the event unfolds? We asked the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) Executive Director David Westman that question recently. “I think attendees at WQA Aquatech USA 2015 will definitely notice our focus on education as a continuing theme throughout the event,” noted Westman. “There will be five different learning tracks available, each one tailored to fit the educational needs of a different type of water treatment professional.”

Westman also shared in that interview, which is published in its entirety in the March issue of Water Technology and on WaterTechOnline.com in our archives, attendees will also learn a lot about WQA’s Modular Education Program (MEP). “We’ll have stations set up in the trade show hall where attendees can try out the MEP for themselves and learn how it can be incorporated into a company’s training program,” he said. “In terms of general market trends, we expect to release the results from WQA’s 2015 Consumer Opinion Study at the convention as well,” which he added was the result of a member-driven interest in data from a national study of consumers’ perceptions on water quality and water treatment.

If you plan to visit the WQA Aquatech USA 2015 trade show, please stop by booth 537. We will have an Exhibit Product Guide, which includes the show’s schedule of events, exhibitor listing and more, to help with your planning.

For general WQA Aquatech USA 2015 information, including the schedule of events for this year’s show, visit http://www.wqa.org/convention/.

Trade show survey

As we were planning our editorial to cover this show, we conducted the aforementioned survey to more than100 participating water treatment professionals. We received a good balance of participants: Consultants (25 percent); manufacturers (22 percent); water dealers (19 percent); suppliers (17 percent); government agencies (eight percent); “others” (seven percent); certification firms (one percent); and associations (one percent). Participants falling under “other” include plumbers, engineers and water treatment users.

The markets served by our survey participants were mainly residential (53 percent), industrial (53 percent), commercial (52 percent), municipal (35 percent) and food service (23 percent). Other markets served include: Irrigation, agriculture and power.

When asked, “How many regional or national water-specific trade shows do you plan to attend in 2015?,” responses were:

  • Two (33 percent)
  • One (26 percent)
  • None (22 percent)
  • Three (11 percent)
  • Four or more (eight percent)

Of those attending this year’s WQA Aquatech USA 2015, 44 percent are planning to have one employee attend, 32 are planning to have two employees attend, and 15 percent are planning for five or more employees to attend. Thirty-three percent of respondents who are planning to attend this year’s show in Las Vegas have attended two or three times before; 31 percent have attended four to 10 times before; 26 percent are first-time attendees; and 10 percent have previously attended 11 or more times.

We asked, “What are the main reasons that you attend industry events, such as WQA Aquatech USA 2015?” The responses, in order of popularity, were as follows (multiple responses allowed):

  • Information/demonstration on new products, technology, services, etc. (67 percent)
  • To network with/meet other water industry professionals (55 percent)
  • To learn the latest industry trends/news, regulations, guidelines (52 percent)
  • For seminars/educational programming (41 percent)
  • Training opportunities (33 percent)
  • All of the above (18 percent)
  • For certification credit, exams and/or information (11 percent).

“The best one yet,” wrote one respondent when asked, “What are your expectations for this year’s WQA Aquatech 2015 show?”.

“[Our expectations are] high,” added another respondent. “[We are] very happy with both the later date (March dates always conflict with our home shows) and the co-location with the other shows. In addition to our water dealership, we own a carwash and operate a number of water vending units.”

Attendees plan for success

We also interviewed two regular visitors to WQA Aquatech USA show each year as well as frequent contributors to Water Technology and WaterTechOnline.com. Dale “DataDale” Filhaber, who is the president of Dataman Group Direct, is presenting an educational session, “Direct Marketing: What Works,” scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, at 3:30-4:20 p.m. in Room N211/212.

“I [attend because it is an opportunity to] meet up with clients, see old friends and, of course, do one of my very popular sessions on direct marketing,” explains Filhaber. “Education is key. Everyone needs to make sure they are up to speed with the most cutting-edge skills, whether it be marketing, technology or government regulations,” which are all areas of focus at WQA Aquatech USA each year.

Marianne Metzger, director of business development for National Testing Laboratories, has also exhibited and presented at previous WQA Aquatech USA shows. “I’ve attended the WQA [convention] for the past 19 years. [It] is a big opportunity to meet with customers face-to-face. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce new products and look for new customers.”

According to Metzger, she always views attending this annual water treatment convention as an opportunity to learn from other industry professionals as well. “I always take the opportunity to learn about any new technologies that are being presented at the show so I can relate that to my testing services,” she says. “Additionally, I’m always looking for presentations that revolve around sales so I can learn the same techniques my clients are learning and using. It is extremely important to plan ahead, otherwise you can easily miss some of the best educational opportunities available.”

A sound planning strategy that Metzger has found over almost two decades of attending this show is as follows, “The week before the show, I always take a look at the educational sessions and plan which seminars I should attend, making sure I can schedule time out of the booth to attend in some cases.”

As three industry shows, including WQA Aquatech USA 2015, meet in Las Vegas on the week of April 20, planning is more important this year than ever before. Simply put, WQA is giving attendees four important reasons to participate in this year’s event. According to wqa.org, water treatment professionals should plan to attend in order to learn, discover, network and take home ideas. “Learn practical solutions and cost-effective strategies from industry experts; discover new technologies, products and distributors; network with colleagues and experts who tackle the same challenges you do every day; and take home new, innovative ideas that will generate the results you need,” reports WQA’s website.