map section showing New Orleans area
Pool and spa pros return to New Orleans. Can they tap into the city’s comeback mojo?(photo credit: Pawel Gaul | istockphoto.com)

After four consecutive years at Mandalay Bay, the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo will leave Las Vegas for New Orleans, a city that last played host to the show nearly a decade ago. In that time, both the city and our industry have absorbed serious blows, with Hurricane Katrina violently battering the low-lying city and its citizens in 2005 and the Great Recession bruising the backyard industry beginning around 2008.

Denizens of New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region have mostly returned to rebuild and get their lives back to normal. Progress in some areas has been frustratingly slow, but overall conditions are a good deal better than what seemed possible in the immediate wake of the disaster. Where once there was massive devastation, there are now reasons for celebration. Perhaps a strong trade show and a mini-Mardi Gras in this city of survivors will bolster our industry’s comeback.

After The Storm

Those searching for signs of an industry renaissance need only look as far as the show’s exhibitor list, which when published in next month’s AQUA will show the return of the so-called “Big Three” equipment manufacturers — Hayward, Pentair and Zodiac have all committed to coming back after absences of varying length.

“This is absolutely a great sign for the industry,” says PSE Show Director Lindsay Roberts. “In conversations we’ve had with manufacturers, the majority seem positive and indicate business has improved over last year. With the Big Three back in the show, it also helps our attendance, which is tracking ahead of last year.”

The hot tub companies, many of whom have been absent in recent years, will also be out in force, with a combination of returning favorites and first-time exhibitors filling the aisles and competing for attendees’ attention. A partial list includes Marquis, Dynasty, Bullfrog, Cal Spas, Saratoga and QCA, in addition to Master, Watkins, Sunbelt, Coast, Viking, Artesian and Clearwater.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center(photo credit: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)

Get Smart

Obviously, the cultural and culinary options in New Orleans are a strong enticement to attend, but those looking to make the most of their visit spend more time bettering themselves in the classroom and a little less time whooping in up on Bourbon Street. (There’s a smart phone app that covers both those scenarios and more. See sidebar on page 54.) In addition to familiar courses on hot water chemistry, vinyl-liner measurement and pump and motor repairs and replacement, early arrivers (and early risers) will find a brand-new slate of courses that address an increasingly important marketing strategy.

“It’s a five-seminar track on social media, presenting in-depth information on the different aspects everyone, from beginners to advanced users,” Roberts says. Classes include “Selling To Today’s Digitally Oriented Consumers,” “Ten Common Social Media Marketing Mistakes And How To Fix Them,” and even a highly targeted discussion called “Social Media Strategies For The Hot Tub Dealer.”

Other highlights include a 2½-day Hot Tub Technician Certification program, which will cover the essentials of service and equipment repair; and a seven-hour Shotcrete Nozzleman Certification program that’ll teach students the basics of shotcrete equipment, finishing, curing, testing and safety.

“The focus of the overall conference program this year is to provide across-the-board topics creating an important educational opportunity for everyone,” Roberts says. “The bottom line is that every class in the program this year will help industry professionals provide the best products and service, thereby building their businesses and bottom lines.”

The conference begins on Friday, Nov. 2, four full days before the exhibits open, and runs through the duration of the Expo, which ends Thursday, Nov. 8. Visit www.poolspapatio.com for a listing of courses and exhibitors, as well as information on registration and hotels, and then look for our comprehensive show coverage in the November issue of AQUA.

Great Expectations

Roberts says that while the PSP show hasn’t been held in New Orleans since 2003, show owner Hanley Wood has hosted shows there recently with good attendance and busy booths. She expects no less from November’s PSP show. Strong booth sales seem to support those hopes.

“Presently, the show floor is 20 percent larger than last year’s event,” she says. “We’ve already had to add more booths due to the interest and demand. This is the largest growth we have seen on the show floor since 2009.”

Returning to a great city now known almost as much for its resiliency as its unique culture and cuisine, the pool and spa industry hopes to capture a little of the mojo that’s fueled the Crescent City’s comeback.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail editors@aquamagazine.com.

iPhone showing IPSPE app

First Stop?The App Store

Should you misplace your November copy of AQUA, you’ve got a couple of options for finding an exhibitor list and floor plan. You could track down a copy of the official show program from a kiosk the near the reg desk, or get everything that has and more in a new app for your iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

“The mobile app is a great tool for attendees and exhibitors with smart phones and iPads.” says Lindsay Roberts, director of the Expo. “It provides attendees and exhibitors real-time access to easy-to-use interactive capabilities including a real-time dashboard with an interactive exhibit hall floor plan, a searchable exhibitor list, a schedule of conference seminars, speakers and events, alerts from show management and New Orleans restaurant and nightlife information.”

The free mobile app can be found by searching “PSP 2012” in the Apple Store or Android Market. BlackBerry and all other web-browser-enabled phone users should point their mobile browsers to http://m.core-apps.com/psp2012 to be directed to download the proper version of the app for your particular device. —B.K.

Las Vegas sign

Leaving Las Vegas?

This will be the first year without a trade show in Las Vegas since the old AQUA Show began in 1993. It’s the end of a long string, but is it the end of an era? We asked Lindsay Roberts, director of the Pool | Spa | Patio Expo about the future of the show and whether its break from the “Divorce Capital of the World” is complete.

AQUA: Will the show move from city to city in the future?

Roberts: We place a high level of importance on attendee and exhibitor feedback and definitely take it into consideration when making show decisions. Since many have indicated a desire for a new host city, we tried very hard to meet their needs. Las Vegas is definitely one of the top destinations for trade shows and is still the top ranked city among our entire audience for a West Coast location. However, we feel it is critical to rotate the event geographically and New Orleans was the top choice for the Southern region.

As of now, we plan to hold the show in Las Vegas every other year unless our audience indicates a need for change. —B.K.