Organizers of the sports collectible industry’s annual Hawaii Trade Conference have announced the show will be held on the mainland for the first time in 2007.
Next year’s event will take place at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Not only is the conference moving to a new location, it is also changing dates. Instead of being in late February, the 2007 event will begin with registration on Sunday, April 15, with business sessions concluding on April 19.
The name of the event will also be undergoing a change. The conference will be known as the Hawaii Trade Conference – Mainland Edition, as organizers say a return to Hawaii is possible after the event rotates through a variety of mainland locations in the coming years.
“We always monitor the feedback of the conference’s attendees and sponsors to get a sense of what they want from the event,” said Jeff Pozorski, Sports Group publisher for F+W Publications. “The most common thing we heard after the most recent event was people wanted an influx of new attendees, and the consensus was that the best way to accomplish that goal would be to bring the event to the mainland for a couple of years to see how that impacts attendance.”
The Ft. Lauderale location was chosen for a variety of factors, including the relative ease and affordability of air travel to the city, its location in a major-league sports market and its overall appeal as a destination for business and pleasure. The Bahia Mar is a beachfront hotel that is also located just five miles from the airport on Ft. Lauderdale’s famed Intercoastal Waterway, and is just minutes away from a variety of the city’s most popular attractions and restaurants.
Most of the standard features of the conference will return, including a variety of panel discussions and guest speakers, focus groups with retailers offering feedback for participating manufacturers and licensors, the Meet the Industry trade presentations, as well as a variety of meals and social events sponsored by industry leaders.
Retailers will again be invited to participate via the conference’s popular Retail Scholarship program (covering a retailer’s airfare, registration and lodging costs), as well as the Retail Grant program (covering registration and lodging). It’s also anticipated that the conference’s mainland location will allow more retailers to attend on their own.
Several sponsors from the 2006 event have already committed to participate in the 2007 conference, including Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, the NFL, Players Inc, Upper Deck, Topps, Donruss Playoff, the NHL, UltraPro, Topps, Inkworks, Sweet Deal, Gold River, Hamps, NAXCOM and Magazine Exchange.
Detailed information regarding registration rates, lodging costs and more will be announced in the coming weeks.