Expanding Opportunities

Water Quality Products invited Peter Censky, executive director of the Water Quality Association, to share his thoughts on the recent WQA Aquatech USA 2006 show in Chicago, and next year’s show in Orlando.

WQP: What was the outcome of this year’s WQA Aquatech USA show?

Peter Censky: We had an incredibly successful event in terms of content, attendance and most importantly, quality. We feel there is no other show in North America that is this relevant or beneficial to the water treatment industry, and it is evident from the attendance and the feedback we’ve received.

The exhibit hall was packed, and there was a lot of traffic on the floor. We’ve already heard from a number of exhibitors who want to sign on for next year.

Our educational sessions brought in some of the industry’s top experts, and covered everything from water treatment basics to advanced troubleshooting for sophisticated applications. Allied organizations worked with WQA to specialize offerings, and we anticipate that will continue in the years to come.

New this year, we had the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (AIDIS USA) partner with us. They held their VII Regional Conference in conjunction with WQA Aquatech USA, and members of both organizations were able to attend each other’s sessions. Their members were also able to attend the WQA Aquatech USA trade show. It was a win for all parties. AIDIS USA’s involvement brought another 100 international environmental engineers to the table, an audience we may not have previously attracted.

WQP: Did the location of the event meet WQA’s expectations in terms of attendance?

Censky: The location did meet our expectations. Final attendance was 4,825 attendees, which is a record. That number includes 290 companies exhibiting in 533 exhibit spaces.

Chicagoland is excellent for drive-in and single-day attendance, and we know a number of companies took advantage of the midwestern location. We heard that some companies were sending their entire shop or a full division for at least one day of the show. That’s one of the reasons we picked this location, and why we’ll be returning to Chicago in 2009.

WQP: For those who didn’t get to attend, what are some of the highlights from this year’s event?

Censky: Our trade show exhibition is not to be missed, and it was definitely the highlight of our event. I think everyone was happy, be it attendees with hundreds of exhibitors on hand, or the exhibitors with thousands of potential customers. The show seemed busy from the time the doors opened until closing each day.

As far as educational sessions, we had a number that were filled to capacity and in some cases, standing room only. Our State of the Industry session was incredibly popular with more than 450 attendees. Treatment Innovations, Strategic Business Growth Planning, and Emerging Technical Issues were also very well attended, as was POU/POE Fundamentals. Our Opening General Session with the WQA Awards announcements and keynote speaker drew nearly 1,200 attendees.

WQP: This year’s show expanded the number of educational sessions held directly on the show floor. How were they received, and can we expect to see more of them next year?

Censky: They were very well received, and attendees will continue to see a variety of Meet the Expert sessions in the WQA booth, as well as Educational Spotlights in various exhibitors’ booths next year in Orlando.

These presentations increase the value of the whole experience. Nearly all of the sessions within the trade show offered Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credit, which is another bonus. Even companies that weren’t offering education in their own booths mentioned benefits from the overflow crowds attending nearby Spotlights.

Exhibiting companies that didn’t take advantage of the Educational Spotlights would be wise to consider them in 2007.

WQP: What other key elements can we expect at next year’s show in Orlando?

Censky: We’ve only just started work on the 2007 show, but we are going to restructure the way we present our educational sessions. Next year, we plan to organize it by educational track, where attendees would be able to select from organized, general topic areas. Two areas being considered are: A small business development track that would include sessions on finance, marketing, insurance and operations; and a fundamentals track that might include reverse osmosis, POU/POE and chemistry basics.

New technologies and industrial applications are other areas for which we could structure presentations. I think we offer so many educational sessions that it is sometimes hard to quickly digest them all and choose what to attend. This is our effort to improve upon that.

We’re also excited about offering a limited number of Poster Sessions next year, whereby participants place materials such as pictures, data, graphs, diagrams and narrative text on large display boards. During assigned time periods, participants may informally discuss their presentations with conference attendees. This is just one of the ways we want to expand the educational offerings, networking opportunities and the overall show’s value.

I think we’ve established that this is the premier Water Opportunity Show, and I anticipate our Orlando audience will be even larger as we provide expanded educational opportunities and a growing trade show experience. We honestly think WQA Aquatech USA is the place to be for anyone involved in the water treatment profession.

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