Preview of the 2009 International Pool Spa Patio Expo

Mandalay1009When the doors open to the 2009 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas next month, it will jump-start the trade show season.

The show is scheduled for Nov. 16-18, with an educational conference beginning three days earlier. And this year the expo has pulled out all the stops to make it worth your while: A common theme throughout seminars, expert panels and educational courses is moving on from challenges and bettering business.

"The educational conference features the most-relevant topics taught by the industry's leading authorities," says Bill Weber, president and CEO of the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the show's official sponsor. "Each seminar offers educational content that is the best available."

Of the 61 seminars offered at the show, 75 percent feature new content, a change made to address the emerging trends affecting today's businesses. Six of last year's most popular seminars are back by popular demand, though, so be sure to check for up-to-date information regarding educational offerings.

"Our educational conference program offers a unique curriculum designed to grow skills and enrich personal development," says Donna Bellantone, expo director. "There is not a better opportunity for backyard professionals to learn the best practices in the industry."

Stay tuned for next month's AQUA for a more in-depth look at the show, including an alphabetical listing of all exhibitors and their booth numbers, a detailed floor plan for easy navigation, an up-to-date seminar and meeting schedule, as well as a roundup of many of the products attendees will find at this year's show.

In the meantime, make the most of your time - and money - and start planning your trip to the 2009 show. Attending IPSPE is a great opportunity to network and gain valuable knowledge that will carry you into 2010 with a fresh outlook and renewed sense of optimism.

Be sure to make the time to stop by the AQUA booth during your trip. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wallet Watch

It pays to register and book a flight and room early.
Budgets are tight; there's no denying it. So while the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo may be part of your 2009 fiscal plan, it always helps to save a few dollars.

Registration Packages
October 6 is the cut-off date for early registrants, giving attendees a chance to save upwards of $200 on certain packages.

The Super Pass is the best value, giving attendees access to all seminars on Monday through Wednesday and admission to the Expo, Power Panel and Welcome Party. The Super Pass costs $195 for APSP members and $255 for non-members if they register by Oct. 6. After that, the APSP price increases by $60 and the non-member price by $40.

The Day Pass includes admission to all seminars on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, in addition to admission to the Power Panel, Expo and Welcome Party. APSP members pay $115 and non-members pay $140 prior to Oct. 6, with prices increasing $25 thereafter.

Planning a day trip? Expo Only passes, which include admission to the Expo and Power Panel, are available to APSP members for free prior to Oct. 6 and $20 afterwards. Non-members can purchase advance passes for $20, and $35 after Oct. 6. Welcome Party tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance or $30 after Oct. 6.

The Executive Academy continues this year with access to four unique educational programs led by industry experts, as well as admission to the Expo, Power Panel and Welcome Party. APSP members cost is $295 and non-members $355 prior to Oct. 6, with member price increasing $60 and non-member price increasing $40 after that date.

All registration packages and pricing can be found online at

Housing And Travel
While Mandalay Bay serves as IPSPE's home base, a variety of hotels within walking distance or tram ride are offering discounted rates from $31 to $254. Chose between Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Excalibur or Luxor Hotel and Casino.

A number of airlines are offering 2 to 15 percent discounts on flights, including America Airlines, Continental, JetBlue, Northwest Airlines and WestJet Airlines. Specific requirements may apply to earn the discount. Once you arrive, if catching a cab isn't your thing, Avis and Budget are also offering car rental discounts.

All discount codes and reservation information can be found at

Education Overload

In addition to the 61 seminars offered during the Expo, the APSP will be offering two more programs Nov. 14-15.

The APSP Builders Institute, presented by the APSP Builders Council, is a two-day program that features a premier curriculum for pool and spa builders. Seven classes will be offered this year, including "Innovative Repair Techniques for Cracked and Leaking Pools," "Innovative Marketing and Advertising in Changing Economic Times," "Vanishing Edge and Perimeter Overflow Pools - Design, Engineering and Construction," "Concrete Pool Decking - Improved Quality, Fewer Problems, Better Profit," "How to sell Waterfalls and Ponds to Your Customers," "Secrets to Successful Pool Tile Installation" and "Startups - The $64,000 Answer!"

The APSP Technical Service Institute is a full-day program on Sunday, Nov. 15, that features five classes and a behind the scenes tour of the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef. Classes include "Variable Drive Pumps and Hydraulics," "Diagnosing New Pool Plaster Problems," "Microbiology - A Look at What's Bugging You," "Advanced Chemistry - What They Don't Tell You in the Beginning Class" and "VGB Compliance Requirements, Risks and Opportunities for Service Professionals."

All APSP program registrants will also receive admission to the Expo, Power Panel and Welcome Party. Visit for more information about specific APSP education packages.

Get Connected

Going to IPSPE is all about getting connected, after all, so why not start before you hit the strip? ConnectionPOINT gives attendees a chance to organize their visit, from creating a detailed show agenda to printing handouts/certificates to communicating with exhibitors before, during or after the show.

It also serves as the gateway to PoolSpaPatioCONNECT, an online networking system that gets attendees in touch with new vendors and product manufacturers and schedules appointments during the Expo, giving attendees one less thing to worry about once they arrive.

Visit for more information.

Power Hours

Power hour panels take place of keynote speaker
The 2009 IPSPE keynote speech has been replaced by three simultaneous Power Panel presentations on Monday, Nov. 16, from 9:45 to 10:50. Choose between the Builder Power Panel, Retail Power Panel and the Empowerment Hour.

Builder Power Panel
This panel is designed for pool and spa builders and is moderated by Lew Akins, president of Ocean Quest Pools, an AQUA Choice winner. Akins will lead the discussion with Brian Van Bower, co-founder of Genesis 3 Design Group, Greg Howard, CEO of Carecraft, and Brett Abbott of MYM Austin, serving on the expert panel. The panel will share their insights regarding the current state of the industry and future growth potential. Questions are welcome and encouraged.

Retail Power Panel
This panel is designed for pool, spa and backyard retailers and will focus on customer retention and service, as well as advertising and marketing techniques. Kathleen Carlson, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Aqua Quip will lead Penny Johnson, owner of Johnson Pools and Spas, Arlene Stachel, owner of Mountain Lake Pool & Patio, and Cal Boothby, owner of Redlands Pool & Spa Center in a discussion addressing real solutions to the toughest problems facing the industry. Again, questions are welcome and encouraged.

Empowerment Hour - "Embracing the Gold"
Join Clay Nelson, president of Life Balance, a division of Consulting Services Network, as he inspires you to step up your thinking and find the "golden nuggets" waiting for you from the lessons learned during these economic times. He'll also encourage attendees with ways to use those lessons to make a difference in their business as they move forward. Nelson hosts a weekly radio talk show and is a regular contributor to a variety of industry and non-industry publications.

A Truly Grand Show

While a trip to the 2009 IPSE is a good way to reconnect with the industry, it's also an excellent springboard to backcountry adventure for those who live far from America's great national parks. With the flight to Vegas already paid for, a few days of camping in these spectacular playgrounds only comes to a couple hundred dollars.

And after a few days of shaking hands and socializing in Vegas, there's nothing like the soaring silence of the Mojave National Preserve or the contemplative forms of Zion National Park to restore equilibrium. Either one of these can be reached in a couple of hours by rental car.

My own favorite, by far, is Grand Canyon National Park, which you can reach in four hours if you press down fairly hard with your right foot. It's a great time of year to hike the Canyon, as it is not so darned hot as it is in summer, when the place sizzles like an Easy Bake oven on broil.

It's cold at the rim, but down in the great chasm you can hike in shorts for most of the day without sweating and then pull on a sweater as darkness descends. You really need at least three days inside the canyon, one to get down, one to explore and one to get back up. Although if you're pressed for time you can avail yourself of the mule trains that clop down and back on a regular basis to carry your gear. That's a lot easier on the legs.

Oh, yes, the legs. It is a bit of a workout, and you may experience a tremendous soreness in the calves and quads, but there's nothing quite like lying on your back at night under bright stars framed by black canyon walls or watching the sun creep down a 5,000-foot shear face in the morning, coloring the park like a children's book. You're never the same after that.

If you're interested in making the trip, email me at [email protected]. I love talking about it.

- Scott Webb

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