The Pool & Spa Show, organized by the Northeast Spa and Pool Association, is scheduled to return for another year — but this time, you can attend from the comfort of your home.
Due to the global pandemic, the Show announced in November it would be transitioning to a live-streaming experience. While the format is different, the Show's goal remains the same: to showcase new products and vendors, and for attendees (an average of 11,000 industry professionals normally attend the in-person event) to connect with their peers and gain valuable education that will help them to be successful in the year to come.
Show-goers can tune in anytime from January 26-28 to view live content that will be broadcasting from Atlantic City and around the region. "This is a unique experience that they have never seen before from traditional online meetings," show organizers say.
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To get a firmer grasp on what the event will entail, AQUA spoke with Show Manager Patricia McCormick.
AQUA: How did COVID influence your decision to move online?
Patricia McCormick: The pandemic is worsening in the East Coast, especially over the holiday season. The numbers and restrictions in place simply do not make the event allowable right now. It's certainly not the choice that we wanted, but we also knew that it could happen in the current climate. So yes, the decision to move online was 100% due to COVID-19 and the fact that we cannot place people in the same room.
AQ: You're the first show to use the verbiage "live-streaming." How does a live-streaming event differ from a virtual show?
PM: We are the first show that is trying this kind of event, yes. When the bubble burst and we realized we had to cancel an in-person show, it was not new to us. We had been researching and doing the work in the background knowing this was a possibility for the future. However, we did not look into the tech companies that were doing online trade show platforms. Instead, we are going with PSAV: Full Service Global Event Production Company. They specialize in live events.
For the full two days of the show, we will be coming live to our attendees from a location in Atlantic City on a large production stage that we are building. We will be giving live presentations from speakers onsite who would normally be speaking from their conference rooms. The Welcome Party will be live-streamed the first day of the event, where we'll have live music and be interacting with attendees that are at home, on their computers, through prize giveaways. Attendees can even request songs and engage with others, because we are all starved for that connection right now. The Design Awards will also be live-streamed on the second day of the event.
AQ: For speakers and educators who are not in attendance at the live-streaming event, how will they be sharing content?
PM: There will be at least four live presentation speakers that will be speaking from the production stage and adhering to health guidelines. The rest of the education content, from technical classes to business classes, will be provided as On-Demand Seminars.
Our conference schedule is packed — this year, there will be about 50 different classes — so attendees will still have that offering. Some of the presenters will pre-film their classes on the production stage, and some will film from home under our direction and production. It will be very professional.
AQ: How will exhibitors be presenting their booths?
PM: Exhibitors will be creating an online booth. But unique to this experience, PSAV has a platform for exhibitors that offers four different ways that attendees can connect with them: Zoom (schedule a live-stream meeting where you will actually meet an exhibitor), live chat features, a meeting scheduler and a contact form.
During the live-streaming event, over the two show days, each booth will be manned by manufacturers (live) at all times. So whereas during a virtual show, exhibitors can step away from the event, they will be on hand the whole day. Attendees can also get in touch with them up to two weeks after the event.
We plan to have attendees from all over the country, some who wouldn't necessarily come to Atlantic City, so we may even have a larger audience than normal. It's a unique opportunity for our exhibitors.
AQ: Do you plan to have The Wall again this year?
PM: We are still going to have the training wall (offered live and On-Demand), which is a big feature of our Show. During the live-streaming event, we will be announcing presenters from The Wall. For example, I will say, 'Okay, and now we have Pentair for hands-on training on how to…,' and then for the next 20 minutes or so, we will cut to Pentair. We will do breakaways throughout the day, but a lot of the day will be live with the audience right there on camera.
AQ: What should attendees definitely put on their Show agendas?
PM: We plan to have two roundtable discussions this year, like a peer panel. They will be led by panelists located in the Northeast who will lead conversations on Northeast-focused issues. One will be on winterization and the other on spring startups, along with topics that are unique to our members and attendees. We deliver a Northeast marketplace to our exhibitors and attendees, and we never want to lose that.
The Show will also feature an appearance from "The Legend."
This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.