The final AQUA Show closed in Las Vegas on Nov. 16. Exhibitors and attendees went home better informed about the latest trends in the pool and spa industry, and with an eye toward next year’s new “mega-show.”

More than 300 exhibitors at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center displayed nearly every product imaginable for backyard and leisure living — from spas and pumps, to chemicals and casual furniture.

The AQUA Show, held on 71,000 square feet of floor space, featured 710 booths and attracted 4,430 attendees.

“Everyone’s really friendly and there are a lot of interesting products out there,” said Ken Scheer, vice president of Calsaway Pool Services Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. “My impression is that this has been a great event.”

A fitting tribute to a show that’s about to enter a new phase.

Starting next year, Hanley Wood Exhibitions will combine the AQUA Show and the International Pool & Spa Expo/

Backyard Living Expo into a single mega-show. The new, three-day event, dubbed the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, will debut on Nov. 18, 2008, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

“The AQUA Show 2007 was a strong event with an extraordinary line-up of seminars, attendees and exhibitors,” said Rick McConnell, vice president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions. “We are committed to maintaining the unique aspects that make up the AQUA Show when it becomes part of the new show next year.”

As always, education was the backbone of the event. And this year’s seminars impressed show veterans and newcomers alike.

“The educational program is what it’s all about,” said Steve Chepurny, president/director of sales, Beechwood Landscape Architecture and Construction in Southampton, N.J. “That’s really why I go [to the show]. I’m impressed by the expertise of the instructors.”

Chepurny said he handles “everything in the backyard” in his business, so the diversity of educational opportunities at the AQUA Show is a big help.

Greg Kearns, vice president of Wildwood Aquatech Pools in Fresno, Calif., has attended the AQUA Show for years. As he exited a marketing seminar, he said his only regret was that he could not be in more than one class at once.

“There are always two or three classes I like that are going on at the same time,” Kearns said. “Overall, the show is very beneficial.”

The AQUA Show also is a place to network, generate new sales leads and roll out fresh products.

The show’s New Product Pavilion was a popular destination for conventioneers, including Dave Hartleip, owner of Moose Lake Products, LLC, in Hartland, Wis.

“It provided a good cross-reference of genres, from builders, to service techs, to new products,” said Hartleip, whose firm produces wind and sunscreens for hot tub users. “Very impressive. It’s been great to meet all these people in one place.”

The show coordinator, Hanley Wood Exhibitions of Dallas, is owned by Hanley Wood, LLC, which also owns this magazine.