Some of the industry’s biggest trade show managers met at the Large Show Roundtable in Dallas this past January. The invitation-only event fosters networking between event planners who manage shows that require 125,000 sf of space or more, making Dallas, and its ever-evolving array of meeting and event spaces, a perfect fit for the event.
Collaboration and communication—from discussing how to achieve more effective and profitable meetings to peer-to-peer problem solving—set the tone for the roughly 30 attendees who were invited to attend. Event organizer Sam Lippman of Lippman Connects describes this structure as a very efficient business-to-business meeting in a noncommercial environment.
“The people that come to this meeting are very discerning event professionals that have been wined and dined literally throughout the world,” says Lippman. “It’s a tough crowd and an appreciative crowd. When I brought them to Dallas, I explained to [the CVB] that the welcome reception is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire meeting.”
The one-day meeting kicked off with a welcome evening reception the night before, followed by a full day of problem solving and networking activities. Attendees were encouraged to submit their interests prior to the event, which allowed the show to develop topics around specific attendees’ needs.
Lippman says that a venue that facilitates networking was key, so the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau organized the progressive welcome reception at the highly conceptual Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
“The venue itself was the strongest indication we were in Dallas,” says Lippman. “It was a brand-new museum that does not have any other branches in any other city. The selection of the venue was the way for the city to show off its uniqueness. The other thing was that the Perot Museum was shut down so that we were the only people using it, giving us a sense of luxury, a sense of privacy.”
Another important part of Lippman’s criteria for the welcome reception was that it was located in close proximity to the Omni Dallas Hotel, where events were being held. This made it easy for attendees who arrived late to the hotel to still join the group and dive in to the Dallas experience.
The night began on the third floor for cocktails and appetizers, followed by dinner in the Gems and Minerals Hall. The high-quality surf and turf meal was served on fine china and gave the look and feel of a five-star restaurant, says Lippman. Dessert and coffee were served on the first floor, where an interactive laboratory allowed guests to try out different physics experiments. The exhibits provided a variety of settings to spark conversation and creativity with different music genres setting the tone for each facet of the event.
“It was a great event because everything was geared toward networking, and so many of our industry events fail in that way,” says Lippman. “Lots of times there will be music that’s too loud or spaces that are too dark. The way the Perot Museum and the Dallas CVB set up the evening was a grand slam.”
Overall, the various exhibits on display at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science provided a built-in conversation piece that Lippman calls “brilliant.”
“The venue allowed us to come and go and look at different displays, which was the perfect icebreaker because you have something to talk about or react to,” says Lippman.