Preview to 2008 International Pool Spa Patio Expo

VegaswelcomeNext month, a slumping spa and pool industry will convene in Las Vegas for the 2008 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo. The show is scheduled for Nov. 18-20, with an educational conference that begins three days earlier, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Despite the downturn of the U.S. economy, tightening of consumer credit and the slowing sales that have affected many in the industry, show organizers remain optimistic that this year's event will surpass last year's both in terms of booths sold and attendance. Hanley Wood Exhibitions, which owns the show, is predicting booth sales of more than 2,500 and a robust contingent of show-goers.

"The International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo continues to be the leading show in the pool, spa and backyard industry," says Rick McConnell, senior vice president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions. "Our exhibitors and educational programs are top-notch, which should draw in a high number of quality attendees, making total attendance around 15,000."

These predictions are bolstered by the show's rolling together of the old International Pool & Spa Expo, the venerable AQUA Show and the relatively new, but growing, Backyard Living Expo into what it calls a "mega event" - a term that's difficult to dispute.

Next month's AQUA will feature everything you need to make your visit to the show both enjoyable and productive, including a detailed floor plan, alphabetical listing of exhibitors and their booth numbers, a detailed seminar and meeting schedule, and a roundup of dozens of the new products attendees can expect to find there. This month, we're offering a little teaser coverage to get your idea engines running and to show anyone who may be on the fence about coming that there's no better use of time or money than gathering with the rest of the industry to search for the combination of ideas and products that'll reverse the troubling downward trend many dealers and manufacturers faced in 2007 and 2008.

Room Rental

Plan ahead and leave that rental car at the airport

Discounted room rates, ranging from $71 to $240, are available at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, the MGM Grand and the Excalibur and Luxor Hotels. Attendees and exhibitors can shop rates and book rooms from the Expo's Web site,, or by calling 800/895-3978.

The Mandalay Bay, which serves as the official headquarters hotel, offers the most convenient access to the show floor, special events, the educational seminars and APSP meetings.

Guests and visitors can enjoy the 135,000-square-foot gaming area inside Mandalay's casino, with blackjack, craps, roulette, pai gow, a poker room, video poker, a sports book and, of course, slot machines.

Not in the mood to gamble? Visit either of Mandalay's spas - Spa Mandalay and BATHHOUSE - for a spa treatment that'll recharge your batteries for the long day of meetings and floor walking ahead.

The Venue

Pool | Spa | Patio Expo moves into Mandalay

Anyone who's been to an AQUA Show recently knows all about the magnificent 1.8-million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center, situated on the south end of the famed Strip and connected to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

"We are pleased to bring the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo to the posh facilities of Mandalay Bay," says Donna Bellantone, show director. "The first-class convention center, combined with proximity to many lodging and dining choices, provides the ideal Las Vegas venue for the industry to gather."

Bill Weber, APSP president and CEO, sees the move to Mandalay, which is accessible by free tram from the Excalibur and Luxor hotels, as a big improvement over the old Pool & Spa Expo's Vegas digs in the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is adjacent to the Hilton but to little else.

"With the proximity to hotel restaurants, this new venue will allow members more interaction with business associates," Weber says. "I encourage all [APSP] members to embrace the move as a positive step for the long-term health and growth of our industry."


Register online to save time, money

Attendees who register before Oct. 7 (better hurry!), will receive early bird pricing and, just as importantly, avoid the long lines that can form at the on-site registration kiosks. Registering early also ensures that you'll get into the classes you want, adds Donna Bellantone, show director.

The best value is the Super Pass, which includes conference seminars Tuesday through Thursday, admission to the Expo, the Keynote by Bill Walton and the Welcome Party. The Super Pass will cost $195 for APSP members and $245 for non-members if they register by Oct. 7. After that, prices increase by $50.

A Day Pass includes conference seminars on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, admission to the expo, the Keynote and the Welcome Party. Prices are $105 for APSP members, $130 for non-members, with prices increasing by $25 after Oct. 7.

A new option, the Executive Academy, includes four conference seminars (each day, Tuesday through Thursday), admission to the expo, Keynote and Welcome Party. The cost is $295 for members and $345 for non-members, with rates increasing by $50 for those who register after Oct. 7.

The least-expensive option is the Expo Only, which costs $20 through Oct. 7 and $35 after that, regardless of whether one is an APSP member. Expo Only passes include the Tuesday Keynote but do not include the Welcome Party.

Nothing But Net

WaltonBasketball great Bill Walton will kick-off (tip-off?) the 2008 Expo with a keynote address Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 10:00 a.m. in the Mandalay Ballroom.

Walton will discuss how the things that make a successful basketball team - teamwork, overcoming adversity, hard work, a positive attitude, focus on the fundamentals - also make successful business teams.

"We are delighted that Bill Walton will be offering his first-hand experience," says Donna Bellantone, expo director. "As a proven leader, Walton will provide attendees with a wealth of inspiration and business advice based on a brilliant career in sports."

Walton played college ball for John Wooden at UCLA from 1971-1974, winning two national titles and helping rack up an astonishing 88 wins in a row, a streak that included two perfect seasons. He was recognized three times as the nation's best college basketball player.

His professional career began with the Portland Trail Blazers, who selected him with the first overall pick in 1974. Injuries sidelined Walton often during his six years with the Blazers, but he did help the team win an NBA championship in his third year. Later in his career, Walton joined the Boston Celtics, coming off the bench to help his team win the 1985-1986 championship and winning the league's Sixth Man Award. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1993.

Today, Walton works for ABC and ESPN as a basketball commentator and contributes regularly to ESPN's Web site, radio broadcasts and print magazine. He won an Emmy Award for "Best Live Sports Television Broadcast" in 2001.

One of Walton's four sons, Luke, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Bill Walton's Hall of Fame career provides a great story," says Bill Weber, APSP president and CEO. "Many similarities exist between what it takes to succeed at the highest level of competitive sport and what it takes to succeed in the challenging pool, spa and backyard marketplace."

Expanded Education

APSP offers advanced educational events at the Expo

In addition to the regular seminar schedule, APSP has put together three additional programs that will take place before the show begins on Nov. 18.

"APSP has put together three compelling programs for elevating the quality of pool builders, retailers and service company professionals," says Donna Bellantone, director of the 2008 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo. "Each program offers a unique and remarkable curriculum that is guaranteed to grow skills and enrich personal development."

The APSP Builders Institute, presented by the Builders Council, is a two-day program of advanced seminars for pool and spa builders. Eight classes will be offered: "Concrete Decks," "Vanishing Edge and Rim Flow Pools" (parts one and two), "Waterfalls: Design and Construction," "Brilliant Glass Tile Installation: The Ultimate Upscale Design Element," "Give It Your Best Shot - Gunite and Shotcrete in Swimming Pool Construction," "Vanishing Edge Swimming Pool Hydraulics," and "Design and Build: The Outdoor Kitchen."

The APSP Retail Institute will feature a daylong program entitled, "So, Who Taught You How to Retail?" It will look at retail store design and merchandising techniques that can help increase sales. This program is designed for retailers with new stores, dealers expanding to new locations and dealers looking to remodel existing locations. The program will be held Nov. 17.

The APSP Technical Service Institute, another full-day program scheduled for Nov. 17, targets owners, managers and supervisors of pool and spa service companies. Students will attend classes including "The Science Behind Sanitation and Oxidation," "Anti-Entrapment - Our Changing Industry," "Solutions to Weird Water Problems," "California Title 20 and 24 Aquatic," "Energy Analysis," "Dual Disinfection for Commercial Pools," and "Practical Solutions to Proper Filtering and Suction Safety." Vendor presentations from Stigl Products, Taylor Technologies, Del Ozone and LaMotte will be included.


The APSP Builders Institute Sunday/Monday Pass package includes admission to the two-day program, access to the Expo, the Keynote and the Welcome Party. The cost is $455 for APSP members and $555 for non-members who register by Oct. 7. After that, the prices increase to $555 and $655, respectively.

The Builders Institute Monday Pass includes admission to the single-day program, the Expo, Keynote and Welcome Party. The cost is $265 for APSP member, $315 for non-members through Oct. 7, with the cost increasing by $50 after that.

The Retail Institute Monday Pass package includes admission to the one-day program, the Expo, Keynote and Welcome Party. Prices are $195 for APSP members and $245 for non-members through Oct. 7, after which the price increases to $245 and $295, respectively.

The Technical Service Institute Monday Pass package includes admission to the one-day event, the Expo, Keynote and the Welcome Party. Prices are $195 for APSP members, $245 for non-members through Oct. 7, and $245 for members and $295 for non-members Oct. 8 or later.

Attendees can register for any of the programs at, where they'll also find program schedules and additional information. For more information, call 972/536-6350 or 888/869-8522.

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