Get Ready For The 2011 International Pool Spa Patio Expo

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In one month, a certain corner of Las Vegas will begin to fill with familiar faces and the chatter of longtime friends renewing acquaintance, as the annual IPSPE show gets underway.

Builders, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, service techs and designers (and even some editors) will be striding vigorously down the long hallway from the Mandalay Bay casino, past the Starbucks and the Shark Reef Aquarium, to the convention hall.

Each will have a primary mission. Some will be in search of customers, old and new. They will make the most of this opportunity to cement and restore longstanding relationships, and establish new ones as well.

Others will be looking for ways to improve their businesses, perhaps through new retail items or through innovative tools to help boost productivity and quality.

Nearly all will be focused on learning — the kind that takes place in a convention center classroom, to be sure, but also the kind that enters the consciousness through subtler means, the off-hand small talk of booth traffic or the lunchtime patter in the food court.

Of course, the quality and quantity of such conversations is directly affected by turnout, which is always a matter of discussion when economic conditions are as they are.

Most of the people I spoke with last November in Vegas were generally satisfied with the show, and felt that the number of attendees and their relative qualifications for the doing of business, was more or less as expected. The actual figure reported by Hanley Wood was 9,255.

Many of these people will remember watching gold medalist Michael Phelps conduct the official ribbon-cutting duties to open the show, and then stroll down to the Master Spas booth (followed by sequentially turning heads and something of a groundswell buzz) where he signed autographs, visited with attendees and generally promoted his new line of swim spas.

This year show organizers say they expect an enthusiastic crowd, drawn by such highlights as the impressive education slate including 76 educational seminars, the Product Showcase, Energy Efficiency & Green Pavilion, Backyard Living Pavilion, Genesis 3 Pavilion, Live Workshops and Exhibitor Product Clinics.


This year the Conference Program is sponsored by that indispensible source of industry knowledge and information, AQUA Magazine, which will be exhibiting in booth #226 in the Genesis 3 Pavilion.

There will be 48 business, technical and 'hot topic' seminars, with a focus on new ways to meet industry challenges — from vanishing-edge pool design to ways to ensure safety regulations are met to marketing techniques.

"Whether you are building a foundation of knowledge or working toward CEU certification, the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo's cutting-edge educational conference is the shortest path to enhancing your skills," says Lindsay Roberts, director of the Expo. "Only through education will you gain a solid assessment of inspirational strategies that can make a difference to your bottom line."

The seminars will be held Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 2 through Nov. 4. Most of the seminars will last one and a half hours, and run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Each seminar is classified by course levels, enabling attendees to customize training according to their level of skill and area of expertise, from 200 [advanced beginner], 300 [intermediate], and 400 [advanced intermediate] to 500 [advanced].

Bill Weber, president and CEO of APSP, the show's official sponsor, exhorted members to take advantage of the opportunity to enhance their understanding of their particular business segment and gain important skills. "By attending the educational conference program, attendees will learn valuable strategies designed to increase company productivity and growth," he says. "I encourage our members to sharpen their skills and enrich their personal development through the seminars."

The lineup of speakers promises to attract a strong and engaged audience. Seminar presenters include Anthony Archer-Wills, Brian Van Bower, David Tisherman, Skip Phillips, Tom Shay, Shauna Causey, Lew Akins, Scott Cohen, Ron Lacher, Dave Hawes and Marcus Sheridan, to name a few. A complete list of speakers and seminars can be found at

This is crucial: Register in advance, as all educational seminars are ticketed and space is limited. Advance pricing of conference registration packages range from $200 to $260 for a Super Pass and $120 to $145 for a Day Pass. All conference packages include free admission to the Expo, one of three Power Panels, the Welcome Party at LAX, the APSP Live Workshops and the Saber BBQ & Beer Bash. APSP members receive a discount on all packages. Online registration is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at


There is an officially designated hotel vendor for this year's show, Travel Planners, an agency that handles hotel, airline and car rental discounts through a variety of companies.

According to IPSPE representatives, to secure the best rates, show participants must book through Travel Planners' online reservation system at or by calling (800)221-3531 during the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

As the official housing provider for the Int'l Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, Travel Planners is the only company that can sell rooms in the official housing blocks. Show organizers encourage attendees and exhibitors not to use other housing providers to secure rooms.

"We worked diligently with the hotels to ensure they offered the lowest possible rate," said Lindsay Roberts, director of the Expo. "Attendees and exhibitors are encouraged to make their hotel reservations now to secure their preferred hotel."

In terms of convenience, you can't get any closer than Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino — a tropically themed hotel with a vast array of dining options, from extravagant to casual; it's adjacent to the convention hall and the site of most of the events. Rooms here are more expensive than some of the surrounding hotels — they can be had for $159 per night according to Travel Planners as of this writing — but the agency stressed that rates go up as the event nears and attendees should book as far in advance as possible.

Up the street from the convention hall, Excalibur and Luxor are ready options for cost-conscious attendees — not as swank as Mandalay Bay, but not as pricey. These are convenient due to a monorail shuttle that runs, dependably and frequently, back and forth from Mandalay Bay.

The Tropicana is also close to the Excalibur monorail and therefore within easy walking reach of the convention; recently refurbished throughout, it's a good mid-range option, with a nice outdoor pool.

A new Las Vegas policy being implemented this year is a mandatory daily resort fee of $12.50 to $20.00 plus tax that will be added to room rates at all properties except Bluegreen Club 36, according to Roberts. "This resort fee includes: in-room wireless internet, cardio center access, daily newspaper, local and 800-number calls, outgoing faxes and boarding pass printing."

American, Air Canada, Continental and Delta will serve as official airlines, offering service from destinations nationwide to Las Vegas' McCarran Airport. Discounts are available off published airfares and based on availability, offering the most cost efficient travel route to the show.

Once on the ground, says Lindsey Moeller, show manager, attendees can save some money by booking a hotel shuttle in advance. "Offering an alternative to taxis, Ambassador/Ritz offers discounted shuttles to all preferred hotels," she says. "For best savings, attendees and exhibitors are encouraged to purchase the shuttle transfer ticket online before they arrive in Las Vegas."

Shuttle tickets are available for purchase at

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

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