Registration for the 2012 International Floriculture Expo is on track to exceed last year’s totals of 1,750 attendees, 200 high-volume retail buyers and 190 exhibitors, show officials said.
“The changes we made this year to the show format resonated well with exhibitors and especially buyers,” Bob Callahan, show manager for Diversified Business Communications, told The Produce News April 23. “The largest buyers in the country have already registered for the show. We are currently 75 percent ahead of the 2011 pace in high-volume buyer registrations. This uptick is a direct reflection of the changes we made this year making education complimentary to all.”
Also, he said, many supermarkets are bringing larger buying groups, some up to six more. “We have had to increase our hotel block to accommodate the additional complimentary hotel rooms we are providing. We consider this a great problem to have,” he added.
Mr. Callahan had announced last fall he would make four changes to the 2012 show based on feedback from 2011 attendees:
• Education sessions and the keynote address will be free to all registered attendees, rather than requiring purchase of separate tickets.
• The schedule will separate show floor hours from the education sessions, so that there will not be conflicts between attending sessions and walking the show floor.
• Center Stage in the exhibit hall will be expanded to accommodate larger audiences and more platform space for presentations and awards ceremonies.
• On the final day of the show, June 22, exhibitors and attendees are invited to bring spouses and children as guests. “There are quite a few attendees and exhibitors taking advantage of this new feature,” Mr. Callahan said.
“Exhibitors are excited that education is free and sessions will not compete with the show floor. We are also hearing positive feedback and excitement about holding the keynote and the Merchandising Award of Excellence presentation on the show floor and open to all,” he stated.
The 2012 edition of the show is scheduled for June 19-22 in Miami Beach, FL, in the third year of a consecutive five-year run there. The theme is “Connecting the Industry from Seed to Shelf.”
Highlights include a keynote on customer service and 13 education sessions on topics ranging from QR codes to growers’ perspectives on the state of the industry to how to attract and motivate stellar employees. Also, Happy Hour presentations will include awards, an Iron Designer Contest and a flower-naming ceremony. Design demonstrations throughout the event will showcase latest design trends, new products and cutting-edge ideas presented by designers representing exhibitors.
Attendees will also vote for Best New Product at a special display of those items. Early entries include Monterey Bay Heather-Coastal Nursery’s rosemary plant in a miniature barbeque grill, billed as “great for summer and Father’s Day;” Magnet Gypsophila from Esmeralda Farms, a variety with massive volume and bright, white flowers; and a California Greens bouquet from Continental Floral/Best Blooms, a sleeved bouquet of cut foliage with the slogan, “just add flowers and the bouquet is complete.”
Mr. Callahan said IFE is the only U.S. trade event where people from every aspect of the floriculture industry come together every year to network, learn and do business.