Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 2012

Post Con: SAAC Advertises Quality

By Sarah Beauchamp, Assistant Editor

2012 SAAC (Specialty Advertising Association of California) Show, held Aug.  8–9 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.  An annual B2B event for the promotional-products industry, the SAAC Show gives suppliers a chance to exhibit to quality buyers.  “Every year,” SAAC Executive Director Nancy Phillips said, “we concentrate on improving the quality of the show.”

Challenges

An ongoing challenge for SAAC has been attracting more participants after seeing its numbers drop from 3,000 attendees and 800 exhibitor booths in 2009 to 2,100 attendees and 500 booths last year.  (Read our Pre Con profile of the SAAC Show here.) While the 2012 SAAC Show saw a slight decline in attendance, “We try to make it so it’s not strictly [about] numbers,” Phillips said.  “It’s the quality of the people that are there.”

SAAC qualifies attendees by requiring proof that they’re current distributors of promotional products and not “trick-or-treaters” - show crashers who attend only for the free swag.  “Exhibitors have more time to engage,” Phillips said of having a smaller, more qualified crowd.  “There is more conversation and more involvement with the attendees and exhibitors.”

Some exhibitors sat this year out, but Phillips is confident they will return.  “For the first time, there’s been a trend in companies deciding that until the economy turns around, they’re doing [the show] every other year,” Phillips said.  “This was the off year for a lot, but they’ll be back next year.  As a result, we had a lot of new exhibitors this year.”

Initiatives

This year SAAC wanted to be “Made in the U.S.A.,” providing attendees with products and suppliers that rely on U.S.  resources and don’t outsource their work.  “There turned out to be far more exhibitors than expected that indicated they were ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” Phillips said.  “It opened the door for conversations.  Identifying companies as ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ made it easier for attendees to find a company that can do a quick turnaround, and for people looking for that aspect.  We’re looking to pursue that further.”


In addition to keeping products local, SAAC expanded its education offerings this year, with a total of seven sessions - up from four last year.  “We had a fairly broad spectrum of education,” Phillips said.  “We had a keynote panel where top distributers and suppliers - the rock stars of the promotional-products industry - answered questions in a casual setting, mostly concerning where the industry is headed.”

For more information: saac.net/show

SAAC Show Conference Details

2011 Long Beach
  • 2,100 Attendees 
  • 500 Exhibitors

2012 Long Beach
  • 1,700 Attendees
  • 489 Exhibitors 

Convene’s Pre-Con/Post-Con series asks meeting planners about their challenges and how they intend to address them (Pre-Con), and then circles back around after the meeting has occurred (Post-Con) to see how well they worked out.

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