LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 2023 edition of Equip Exposition broke the show’s record for attendance and exhibit space. More than 27,000 registered attendees from all 50 states and 46 countries convened on one million square feet of exhibits and 30 acres of outdoor space from Oct. 17-20.
The Equip Exposition trade show, which is owned by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), expanded into the West Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center due to space demand, and with the co-location of Hardscape North America, Equip Exposition spanned the full North, East and South halls as well.
Attendance increases included a 20% year-over-year increase in landscape contractor registrations and a 5% increase in dealers attending. Booth sales, sponsorships and education sessions numbers also saw an increase in 2023.
“What we really wanted to do was better understand the attendee’s point of view, so we got some survey work together and went to our principal attendees,” OPEI CEO Kris Kiser said. “We asked them about the trade show, about what we’re doing right and wrong, what are the kind of peer-to-peer activities they’re looking for and what kind of education they wanted.”
Through this surveying, the team was able to identify key challenges for their attendees, and put classes that directly addressed those findings into the educational programming. New programming included sessions dedicated to the topics of pool and spa, and irrigation. Select workshops were offered in Spanish this year too.
A challenge the team found was parking at the trade show, because lines get long and cause traffic as visitors pay to park. OPEI decided that it would cover parking costs to alleviate traffic and provide better customer service. Feedback on the parking has been positive, so OPEI will continue to cover that cost.
The show team also has focused on attracting and engaging women in the industry, and this year held a women’s reception, which saw high turnout.
“At a lot of privately held and small businesses, women make a lot of the big decisions, like spending on the equipment,” Kiser said. “We asked ourselves how we are engaging them, and the answer was we weren’t. We brought in a professional, did some focus groups and wanted to find a way to attract and incentivize women who are in the business but don’t go to the trade show. We had women groups last year, and this year we held the women’s reception which brought out about 500 people.”
After another record-breaking year, the Equip Exposition team is already looking ahead to 2024, with plans for a welcome reception at Churchill Downs, which will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby in 2024, and an arena concert at Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. The 2024 show will also feature the annual dog adoption event, which helps about 20 dogs a year find their forever homes, as they’re adopted right off the show floor from the Kentucky Humane Society.
The 2024 Equip Exposition will take place Oct. 15-18 in Louisville.
Ready to host in Louisville? Submit your RFP here.