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Virtual Expo to Skip 2012 Show; Aims for 2013

November 23, 2011 by · Comments Off on Virtual Expo to Skip 2012 Show; Aims for 2013 

Producers of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo will skip 2012 and conduct their next online expo in February 2013.

The announcement appears in this week’s issue of Campground & RV Park e News.

In a column titled “Confessions of a Trade Show Maven,” Producer Art Lieberman  announced that the 2012 season will be bypassed altogether.

“This will give us more time to perfect the show’s software and to convince both exhibitors and attendees to love trade shows as much as we do,” the column states.

The show was held live online Nov. 10-11 and is available in archive status through early January.

Lieberman and Co-Producer Deanne Bower, expect visitors to this year’s show to top last year’s attendance of 497 before the current show closes in January.

Free Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II Opens Thursday

November 9, 2011 by · Comments Off on Free Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II Opens Thursday 

The final touches were added to booths today in preparation for Thursday’s opening of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality  Expo II on the Internet.

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo will have 34 booths of exhibits, educational webinars, webinars conducted by  various sponsors and exhibitors, a Resource Center and a Chat Lounge, producer Art Lieberman announced.

Expo hours are noon to 6 p.m. EST on Thursday and Friday. The Expo will also run in the on-demand status for an  additional 60 days.

To attend the Expo go to http://live.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com – and complete the registration information.

Lieberman hosted a walk-through session for exhibitors on Tuesday.

As noted many times, attending or viewing the Expo and associated events is totally free to attendees. After the live show closes on Friday, the Expo will remain available for viewing an additional 60 days into 2012. All of the booths will continue to be accessible and the seminars will be viewable since they will have been recorded.

Thousands of Invites Sent Out

According to a news release, nearly 40,000 notices have been sent out to 15,000 owners of campgrounds, marinas, ski lodges, golfing resorts, dude ranches and paddleboat and canoeing facilities. Also receiving invitations are members of the press, trade associations and governmental agencies who participate in the outdoor hospitality industry.

Over 3,300 prospective attendees have been sent notices announcing that they have been pre-registered and a user name and password have been provided to them to enter the Expo. Record attendance for any trade show in the outdoor hospitality industry is anticipated at this year’s event.

A schedule of the conference speakers and their subject matter will be posted on the website of the virtual show at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com and in the 2011 Souvenir Directory, produced by Campground and RV Park e-News, which will be emailed to everyone today. The directory will also be available for download in the Expo lobby.

User Friendly Expo

This year exhibitors whose websites have a webpage where prospective buyers may purchase items or services will have a “buy it now” button in their virtual booth. Exhibitors, the press and other invited guests have already viewed the Expo at the party conducted on Tuesday. The tour was conducted by Elizabeth Davenport of VCopious, the software provider for the Expo. The company will have personnel on hand at the event to deal with any technical issues that might arise. All other information may be obtained at the “help desk” which is in booth D5.

It is expected that attendees will enjoy attending the Expo and exploring the software this year. The average time generally spent at a virtual expo is approximately 102 minutes, according to figures available from industry sources. “We expect to exceed that time,” says Producer Art Lieberman, “since this year the software is extremely ‘user friendly’ and attendees will want to watch a free educational seminar or two, view all the booths and chat with sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and even each other.”

Exhibitors will have accurate information about attendees since the reporting facilities for the event will be accessible to them. When an attendee enters their booth, exhibitors will see a “business card” of the attendee which is assembled from the registration information. The person-to-person contact will be informative for both parties.

After the live portion of the Expo is concluded, exhibitors will have access to all attendance statistics including people, length of visit, webinars attended, etc. An extraordinary amount of information is obtained from a virtual show which is not possible from a physical event.

Advisory Board Plays Key Role

“Once again, the producers are grateful to the members of the advisory board of the Expo. David Gorin for his sage advice, particularly in the marketing of the event, Deb Kohls who once again presided over the webinars, Evanne Schmarder our press agent and publicist, Jim Ganley who gave us advice and contributed his opinions on many issues and Norm Boucher, who gave us a view of the Expo from a retailers point of view,” Lieberman said. “Without these people taking time from their own businesses to assist in the production of the Expo, there would not have been an Expo II.”

“Finally, the producers would like to further salute David Gorin. David, after having participated in last year’s event, devoted himself wholly to this year’s Expo. He committed his funds, his time and a huge amount of effort into the success of the show. Much of the show’s success belongs to David Gorin.”

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II is produced by Art Lieberman and Deanne Bower of Campground Expositions. The producers may be contacted by calling (877) 901-EXPO (3976) or by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. Their website (currently being updated) is www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Pelland Advertising maintains the Expo’s webpage. Visit Peter’s business at https://pelland.com.

Virtual Outdoor Expo Taking Booth Registrations

April 8, 2011 by · Comments Off on Virtual Outdoor Expo Taking Booth Registrations 

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo, slated for Nov. 11, has begun to receive sponsorship and booth registrations from last year’s event participants.

The expo, conducted entirely on the internet, has received completed applications and payment from sponsors Leisure Interactive, Checkbox Systems, Pelland Advertising, MCPS for Campgrounds, Best Parks In America as well as from exhibitors Campground Automation, Evergreen Insurance and Leavitt Recreation and Hospitality Insurance, according to a news release. As mentioned in an earlier press release, David Gorin & Associates is now the Presenting/Platinum Sponsor of the event.

The producers of the Campground Expo have this week formally begun marketing the expo to nearly 1,000 suppliers including RV campgrounds, marinas, golf resorts, ski resorts, canoeing and paddleboat resorts and dude ranches around the world.

“There are some major differences this year,” says Art Lieberman, expo producer, “This year our software provider will actually ‘build the booth’ for the exhibitors from files they supply. This will allow our people to market the event to the larger audience we are targeting and to publicize the event with more vigor. We’ll have the assistance of Evanne Schmarder as our publicist and advertising manager, who has expertise in this field through her company, Roadabode Productions. The Expo will also once again be pre-registering thousands of possible attendees by having the software send out user names and passwords to the many, many owners of hospitality businesses, informing them of their pre-registration.”

Deanne Bower, co-producer of the expo, is excited about the demo site which is being built. “Unlike last year,” Bower says, “our demo site for the Expo will be the actual expo itself. It is already a work-in-progress and will have the actual Lobby, Expo Hall with five actual exhibit booths, Conference Room, Lounge and Resource Center which can be viewed by a potential exhibitor after they log in.”

This is also the first time that two expos are being marketed: the first show in November of this year and the new Spring Expo beginning on February 10th of 2012. Sponsors and exhibitors may choose to participate in one or both of the events.

David Gorin & Associates Presents – The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II is scheduled to be live for two show days and another 60 days in an on-demand status. The producers may be contacted by calling (877) -901-EXPO (3976) or by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. Their website (currently being updated) is www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Pelland Advertising maintains the Expo’s webpage. Visit Peter’s business at https://pelland.com.

Virtual Outdoor Expo Producers Plan Two Events

March 4, 2011 by · Comments Off on Virtual Outdoor Expo Producers Plan Two Events 

Show dates announced

It’s obvious that the producers of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo are charting their own path. They were the first in that industry to conduct a virtual trade show, replete with sponsors, exhibitors and educational webinars and now they are simultaneously planning both a fall and spring show.

As announced recently, the Fall Expo will begin on Nov. 11 and be live for two days, and the Spring Epo will be held Feb. 10-11, 2012.

This will give sponsors and exhibitors alike the opportunity to participate in both events at greatly discounted exhibit rates and also allow the software to be maintained at a discounted production cost, according to a news release.

Art Lieberman and Deanne Bower will soon be announcing returning participants who have already agreed to the 2011 event. They may soon have a “Presenting” or Platinum Sponsor and a co-producer who will participate in marketing the event to exhibitors and attendees alike.

“Because the software will now be exceedingly ‘user friendly,’we may attempt to make it more fun for attendees,” the press release stated.  “The software is, at this writing, being supplied by VCopious of Conshohocken, Pa., who will participate in a much different manner than the previous provider. They will actually receive the files from sponsors and exhibitors, construct the booths from those files and then present them to the exhibitors for their review. Two hours of training will be given to each exhibitor to make sure they know how to operate their booths and to utilize the report facility built into the software.

“This will free up our time to market the event and attempt to coordinate other aspects of the Expo,” says Lieberman. “Last time, Deanne and I spend hundreds of hours trying to assist exhibitors with their booth setup.”

There are dozens of other enhancements to the software this time out and the booth displays will be “brick and mortar”, meaning that the Expo will give the appearance of aisles with booths instead of the logo approach that was used last time. There will be an Expo Lobby, Exhibit Hall, Conference Room, Chat Lounge and a Resource Center.

The Fall Expo will also begin at 11:11 a.m. EST, carrying the number 11 theme. The Spring Expo will begin at the traditional 12 noon time. Both will run until 6 p.m. each day.

The producers may be contacted by calling (877) 901-EXPO (3976) or by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. Their website (currently being updated) is www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. Pelland Advertising maintains the Expo’s webpage.

Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II Announced

February 18, 2011 by · Comments Off on Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II Announced 

Producers of the first International Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo have released details about their second annual event, scheduled for Nov. 11-12 on the Internet.

“Due to the problems we all experienced with the software, we are pleased to announce that we have found a different software provider,” Producer Art Lieberman stated in a news release. “This company, VCopious of Conshohocken, Pa.,  will set up your booth for you. Simply send them the info you want in the booth and they will actually input that data into your booth for your approval. In addition they will give you two hours of training on how everything works and it will be done a month in advance so that dry runs can be made to make sure everything works correctly. How refreshing!”

Lieberman may have found the right software provider this time around. VCopious announced this week that the company has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 “Technology Start Up of the Year” to be honored at the 18th Annual Enterprise Awards. The Enterprise Awards recognize companies for their innovations, growth potential, leadership, company milestones and track record of achievement. The awards are hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Technology and Capital (PACT). Click here to learn more about the company that will provide the software for the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II.

Lieberman also announced plans for a spring 2012 show, set for Feb. 10-11.

“There will be a multiple expo agreement greatly discounted for you,” Lieberman stated in a an e-mail announcing the shows. “Both shows are live for two  days and on demand for 60 days. All agreements will soon be available on the Expo’s website at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com.

“This year we also will be attempting to get more attendees from outdoor hospitality businesses besides campgrounds. We will be seeking owners or operators of marinas, golf or ski resorts, paddlesports facilities, dude ranches and even the National Park Service. Likewise, we will be seeking extremely high-profile speakers for our webinars with a vast amount of knowledge in diverse fields.”

Lieberman also announced that he has signed the first “Platinum” sponsor for the November expo — David Gorin.

“Never let it be said, even with his vast experience in the campground industry, that David Gorin is not a dynamic individual. Mr. Gorin is past president of ARVC, on the board of the National School of RV Parks and Campground Management, owner of Best Parks in America, a campground owner and, of course, the owner of David Gorin Associates, a consulting firm. David is also on the advisory board of the Expo. Quite a resume!”

To contact Lieberman or Deanne Bower, co-producer, call (877) 901-EXPO (3976),   fax (866) 605-1388 or  visit www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com.

Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo Returns Nov. 11

February 3, 2011 by · Comments Off on Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo Returns Nov. 11 

The Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo producers have announced the final tallies for attendance at the 2010 version of their trade show and conference, held entirely on the Internet through Jan. 31.

According to a news release, campground attendance shattered records for physical shows at any regional or state association in the history of the industry: 279 distinctive RV parks had representatives visit the site during the three-day live event and the additional 90 day “on-demand” period. All in all, nearly 500 unique attendees visited the event.

“According to some of our more experienced vendors, some of the expo’s attendees had never visited a national show in the industry,” Art Lieberman, show co-producer, stated in the release.

“We’re pretty proud of the results,” he continued,  “although the software used to produce the event was highly criticized by sponsors, exhibitors and attendees alike. Since the live portion of the expo closed, Deanne (co-producer Deanne Bower) and I have been examining a half dozen reputable alternative software companies that produce virtual expos, and we have found three with whom we are further negotiations.”

Bower said she believes that any of that trio will create a software environment that is more user-friendly than the one used last year. “And”, she states, “we believe that we’ve chosen an opening date that nobody will forget: Nov. 11th of this year: 11/11/11.” In addition, at the advice of several exhibitors, Campground Expo is also preparing another expo for the spring of 2012.

“I read somewhere in an e-mail that the year 2011 has produced some interesting dates and numbers,” she cotninued. “There was 1/1/11, 1/11/11, and, of course, our target date for the Expo, 11/11/11. Strangely, there is another number that is significant. If you add the last two digits of the year you were born (in the 20th century) to the age you will be in 2011, you always get 111. I bet this year is going to be the year of the campground!”

The producers have already had a bit of luck. They have added three people to the advisory committee of the expo who bring their own expertise to the event:

  • Tracie Fisher, of Campground Manager Today, earned her invitation to the board by voluntarily assisting exhibitors in setting up their booths at last year’s event. Fisher also simultaneously worked in three different booths last year: the National School of RV Park and Campground Management, the Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and her own company’s exhibit.
  • Also joining the board is well-known RV cooking expert, writer and owner of Roadabode Productions, Evanne Schmarder. Evanne took an early interest in the first Expo, conducted her cooking show live and volunteering to host an open forum.
  • Finally, the producers were able to persuade Norman Boucher, owner of LCN Outdoors and president of the ARVC Supplier Council, to join the board. Norm’s expertise in the outdoor hospitality industry cannot be matched and, as a supplier of hard goods to campgrounds, his input is a necessity for a successful virtual event.

Virtual Hospitality Expo Touts Archival Function

December 7, 2010 by · Comments Off on Virtual Hospitality Expo Touts Archival Function 

Each week since the live portion of the three-day Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo ended on Nov. 3, an estimated 20 new visitors have logged on to the expo, many watching the recorded webinars and open forums or downloading brochures or videos from exhibitors, according to a news release.

Attendance figures at the web seminars are as follows:

  • Derrick Crandall’s Keynote Address – “Let’s Move” has had 184 viewers.
  • The Open Forum on Registration Systems has had 153 viewers.
  • Evanne Schmarder’s RV Cooking Show has attracted 108 viewers.
  • The Open Forum on Social Media has had 93 viewers.
  • Mike Prom’s web seminar on Effective E-Salesmanship has had 82 views.
  • The Open Forum on Wi-Fi – Emerging Trends and Guest Expectations has had 66 viewers.

“This was going to be a big advantage to sponsors, exhibitors and attendees alike when we anticipated a virtual show,” said Producer Art Lieberman. “Having produced physical trade shows the concept of not having to close the show after a few days was something that I had never experienced before. You have to leave the venue, the booths had to be disassembled and the security people dismissed in a physical show. When it’s over, it’s over.”

“The ability for attendees to retrieve information or, particularly, to view the recorded web seminars is unique to virtual shows.”

Lieberman emphasizes, however, that although the virtual expo has a place in marketing and educating attendees, it is not an alternative, in his opinion, to physical shows, but merely a supplement to them.

“Even with the chat rooms at a virtual show, attendees miss the social atmosphere that only can be found at a live event,” he said.

He attended last week’s InSites Convention and Outdoor Hospitality Expo in Las Vegas  and is at this week’s Pennsylvania Campground Owners Conventions. “Both conventions also afford us the opportunity to meet with several important industry people to discuss plans for the next virtual Expo,” he said.

Comments about the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo can be directed to the producers by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. More information about the expo can be found at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com or by calling them at (877) 901-EXPO (3976).

Website designed and maintained by Pelland Advertising.

Virtual Expo Producers Comment on Event

November 24, 2010 by · Comments Off on Virtual Expo Producers Comment on Event 

Still accessible on the Internet

With the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo still running in the “on demand” status and attendees still viewing the exhibit booths and watching the recorded webinars, the producers of the expo are seeking opinions about the show and looking forward to the next version.

The groundbreaking event ran live on the Internet Nov. 1-3.

WOODALLSCM.com discovered in a survey that the expo received mixed reviews from participants, but most agreed the concept was a good one.

According to a news release from Art Lieberman, expo producer, a survey conducted by the software provider of a very small sampling of attendees does provide some honest answers about the event:

  • On Registration: Over 70% of respondents said that the registration process was informative, easy, simple to complete and the information requested was pertinent to their registration. Of those answering, less than 10% disagreed.

Questions pertaining to the Exhibits and the software provided less enthusiastic responses:

  • Nearly 50% of attendees said that the Exhibit Hall was NOT easy to navigate, or that the exhibit booths did not provide easy access or that it was not easy to find what attendees were looking for. Nearly 25% of respondents had no opinion on these questions, leaving only 25% satisfied with the exhibit hall setup.
  • Over 70% of respondents were satisfied with the video and audio signal, although there were some intermittent problems with both, and 70% also did not make use of the Lounge at the show.
  • Perhaps the most disturbing response from those who answered the survey was that generally only 40% agreed that the software was easy to use, met their needs or was everything they expected.

But Producers were heartened at the overall appeal of a virtual show:

  • Nearly 75% said they would recommend a virtual show to a colleague and nearly 75% also said that they would attend a virtual show in the future. Producers Lieberman and Deanne Bower were extremely encouraged by this response.

The software company, while not admitting any errors in the expo functionality, has returned money for two of the three customization fees that were paid. Lieberman stated that, “We are hoping that either corrections can be made in the software to permit us to use this company again, or we will choose another such company. We are reviewing our options. In the meantime, there are several options we are pursuing, such as a co-production with other companies or entity and changing the time of year the expo will be produced. We would very much like to keep our Advisory Board together as we go forward.”

Several exhibitors, especially those dealing in hard goods that are sold to stores in hospitality industry businesses, have suggested that the expo be held in early spring – perhaps in February.

“If we decide to go in that direction,” said Bower, “we would skip 2011 and aim for February 2012. That would also give us quite a bit of time to get others onboard, find the appropriate software and market the next Expo.”

This year’s version of the Virtual Expo can still be attended by logging on at http://live.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com.

Comments about the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo can be directed to the producers by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. More information about the expo can be found at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com or by calling them at (877) 901-EXPO (3976).

Meanwhile, the software from the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Show is capable of producing some rather amazing statistic relevant to attendees. Though the Expo will run until February and approximately twenty new attendees are logging in every week, here are statistics from the opening of the event on Nov. 1 through noon on Nov. 20.

  • Total computerized registration, 3,370.
  • Unique Visitors (individual attendees), 447.
  • Number of total visits, 2,352.
  • Average visits per visitor, 5.26.
  • Average length of stay, 28 minutes.
  • Booth video views, 261.
  • Document downloads, 532.
  • ConferenceRoom presentation views, 712.
  • Contact us click throughs, 266.
  • Website click throughs, 272.
  • Visits by day of the week: Monday, 1,168; Tuesday, 615; Wednesday, 418; Thursday, 74; Friday, 55; Saturday, 13; and, Sunday, 9. (The expo ran live Monday-Wednesday).
  • Visits by time of day: Midnight – 6 a.m., 34, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., 83; 9 a.m. to noon, 533; noon to 3 p.m., 971; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 580; 6 p.m.- to 9 p.m., 109; and 9 p.m. to midnight, 42 . (The expo ran live noon to 6 p.m.).

Statistics for each exhibit are also produced and a breakdown of registration information for each attendee is being maintained by the expo producers.

Virtual Expo Producers Pleased, Not Satisfied

November 12, 2010 by · Comments Off on Virtual Expo Producers Pleased, Not Satisfied 

Expo is archived for another 80 days.

The producers of the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo that was conducted last week on the Internet are pleased but far from satisfied with their first-time event.

“The software was much improved from a technical standpoint from the earlier version we had seen. But it sacrificed user-friendliness to reach that goal,” Art Lierberman, expo producer, stated in a news release. “The sponsors, exhibitors and the visitors all seemed to love the concept and almost all of them have indicated that they would participate in the show if it were to be run again.”

“We have several options going forward. We can run the show in 2011 utilizing Expos2, the provider of the software, under the condition that they revise the program to make both exhibitors and visitors more comfortable at the Expo – or seek another software company. We have, of course been reviewing our alternatives. It does appear, though, that we will try the concept again next year. There have been several entities who have expressed interest in co-producing the event with us.”

Art Lieberman

The expo’s numbers were good as far as attendance was concerned, he said, and, since the Expo is still open in the “On Demand” status, the final attendance figures are not in. At this writing 3,370 outdoor hospitality businesses were pre-registered for the event and over 420 people attended, 85% of who were campgrounds. An additional 20 or so people are logging in every day at http://live.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com, since the Expo is still running. Hundreds of exhibitor brochures and videos were inserted into attendee’s briefcases to be reviewed later.

“The webinars and Open Forums probably broke records,” said Lieberman. “Derrick Crandall, who delivered the keynote address, had well over 100 individuals watching him live and several dozen more have watched the recorded version of his webinar. Derrick’s topic was unique, in that it covered the attempt by the First Lady to draw attention to childhood obesity and to get youngsters outdoors and recreating (especially at campgrounds). He pointed out that statistics indicate that children spend seven hours a day in front of TV screens or computer or game monitors, which accounts for the high number of obese and overweight children in our society. Even with advances in medical procedures in our present society, children will live five years less than their parents.”

All of the other webinars received equal praise from attendees and booth staff as well. Evanne Schmarder’s live broadcast of her cooking show from her RV drew raves from many people. Discussions about Wi-Fi and registration software were also well received.

Lieberman and co-producer Deanne Bower have promised to produce a “White Paper” about the Expo, including full statistics and an evaluation of the software improvements necessary to repeat the event next year. In the meantime they expressed their gratitude to Deb Kohls, Peter Pelland, David Gorin, Jim Ganley, Chris Hipple, Tracie Fisher, Evanne Schmarder, Derrick Crandall, Robin Chilson, Mary Arlington, Tyler Duffy, Eric Stumberg, Gary Pace, Peter Kearns, Jerome Steverosky, Steve Ashkin, Larry Losconsy, Mike Prom and Dennis Macready and many others too numerous to mention, all of whom had a hand in making this vision a reality.

Comments about the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo can be directed to the producers by e-mail at campvirtualshow@yahoo.com. More information about the expo can be found at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com or by calling them at (87) 901-EXPO (3976).

Novice Navigates Industry’s First Virtual Expo

November 3, 2010 by · Comments Off on Novice Navigates Industry’s First Virtual Expo 

Editor’s Note: Steve Bibler, editor of Woodall’s Campground Management and web editor of www.WOODALLSCM.com, participated along with a host of other people in the RV park and campground business this week in the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo conducted on the Internet at www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com. The online expo resumed at noon (EST) – and concludes at 6 p.m. – today. Here are a few of his impressions on this new age type of convention, an ethereal event to which no one travels and everyone, at least by design, benefits.

The “phone” rang around 12:15 p.m. on Monday.

But, for the life of me, I didn’t know how to answer it.

The sound was coming from my computer and signaled that someone was visiting my “booth” in the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo on the Internet.

This was just one of many frustrating experiences I encountered setting up, then navigating my first virtual expo.

The expo, a first-time attempt by East Coast businessman Art Lieberman, encountered plenty of snags — but also some bright spots.

“I have to admire Art Lieberman to have the chutzpah to take the initiative, finance this and do something no one else in the industry has been willing to do,” said Peter Pelland, owner of Pelland Advertising, Haydenville, Mass., and an event co-organizer.

“I embraced it. I knew there were a lot of risks going into uncharted territory. We knew we were all taking some significant risks. There could be thousands of people, they could crash the software and who knows what? On the other hand there could be nobody showing up. The reality has been somewhere in between.”

On the upside, 1,129 visitors reportedly visited the expo on opening day. And some of the 63 exhibitors did succeed in doing business at the expo.

On the downside, there were “horrible software issues,” said Pelland.

“There were lots of problems on opening day,” he added. “There was so little support (from the software provider) that nobody knew how it was suppose to work.”

Organizers spent most of Sunday trying to iron out the bugs in the software, while tech support was essentially absent, Pelland said.

A panel discussion scheduled for Monday had to be reset for Tuesday, and the system crashed mid-way through the rescheduled event, he noted. The quality of archived presentations was also below average, he added.

“The company that provided the software, I don’t think anyone is pleased or would return to in the future,” Pelland noted. “Given those limitations, even people who have had a less-than-stellar experience still think we’re on the right track. It can only get better year to year.”

Visitors and exhibitors had mixed comments.

Jeff Krug, a campground owner from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, visited the expo on Monday and was disappointed by his visit.

“Unfortunately, for me it was very frustrating. The idea has merit but I didn’t honestly find it as easy to navigate and get to places as I hoped it would be. I’m sure when you do the first of anything it will be hard to cover all those bases.”

Krug, otherwise, doesn’t attend trade shows to support his 34-site campground in the southeast corner of Iowa, so attending a virtual expo online at virtually no cost appealed to him. “If this works, it’s a good idea,” he said.

“If I would have been able to find it easier to navigate,” observed Krug, “I would have looked to do a little bit of business. It’s always nice to visit with people who you do business with,” he said.

He also tried to attend some of the live presentations by a host of industry speakers booked for the expo but was thwarted in his attempt to do so by nagging software issues.

John Healt, sales executive at Lodging Kit Co., Boonville, N.Y., a supplier of software for park models, helped staff the company’s booth and also visited other booths.

“It’s really a neat idea,” he said. “I like the concept. The convenience, you can’t beat. But there are a few tweaks and wishes. They need a better way to know who’s visiting the booth.”

Healt noted that his firm received “eight or nine visitors (not exhibitors) that did visit the booth and provided some contact information. We will follow up on that. If that pans out, that will be great.”

Pelland noted that exhibitors received daily reports on the number of visitors.

“We crunched the numbers and the actual number of valid prospects who came to our booth was 5% of the numbers we were led to believe,” he said. “But all said and done, that is not bad. We could go to ARVC InSites or regional shows and come out with that number and be a success.”

Pelland, as did other exhibitors, sent out a follow-up e-mail to booth visitors.

“Many of those could lead to some business,” he said.

As an exhibitor, Pelland liked “the overall look of the expo, although even there I have many, many suggestions for improvements.”

Though not involved in the selection of the software provider, Pelland said he feels confident there is a provider that could offer better software and support than the one Lieberman selected. Having said that, Pelland is concerned that the software glitches turned off some visitors who decided to leave the expo and not return.

“I’ve gotten feedback form clients as well as fellow exhibitors,” he said. “They’ve got some concerns. This was good as a first attempt, but if this is going to happen a second time, we better smooth out a lot of rough edges. Again, I have nothing but admiration for Art to get this flying. He deserves a whole lot of credit.”

“Despite the problems with software and no real expectations, there was nothing historical to compare it with,” Pelland concluded. “I’m very pleased my company has been involved and we would do it again in a minute.”

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