New Orleans. Where to start? This Southern treasure is a must-see for visitors, offering everything from one-of-a-kind cuisine and incredible music to the fabulous French Quarter, voodoo shops and much more. Now, after a four-year absence, the 2016 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo is returning to the Crescent City’s Morial Convention Center Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.

New Orleans was chosen for this year’s Expo for a number of reasons. “We consider many factors when determining the host city,” explains Tracy Garcia, CEM, show director at Informa Exhibitions U.S. in Irving, Texas. “First, it’s important that the city is able to accommodate a show of this size. We also consider the demands of the attendees and exhibitors. While the main focus of the PSP Expo is education and exhibits, we also want our attendees to have a fantastic experience after the show closes for the day. New Orleans offers just that. It’s a city that is steeped in culture — food, music, entertainment and other attractions make New Orleans a world-class destination.”

Garcia adds that the event is on track to meet or exceed last year’s numbers: over 11,500 registrants and 525 exhibiting companies filling more than 142,500 square feet of exhibit space. The show floor will be open Nov. 2-4; the conference runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.

To keep up with all the action, a mobile app is available. It was very well received last year, Garcia says, so it’s returning with features such as up-to-date event information and the ability to search for exhibitors, sessions and speakers. To ensure that the app is user-friendly, Garcia says planners are carefully looking at how the data is organized to make actions like searching for exhibitors by product category more intuitive. The app is downloadable by searching “pool spa patio” through Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

As for the Expo itself, its three pavilions remain an important feature. Last year, the Casual Furniture Pavilion was successfully launched and will be returning as a complement to the Outdoor Living Pavilion. “The goal is to offer attendees the ultimate destination for outdoor living, beyond pool and spa,” Garcia says. Then she adds, “We are again putting a focus on the commercial segments. To enhance the experience for casual furniture and commercial segments, our conference team has secured many new, exciting presentations.” Indeed, all but one of the classes in the Commercial Education Area adjacent to the Commercial Pavilion are new this year.

Speaking of classes, the other half of this event — the conference — offers an impressive lineup of educational opportunities of all stripes. Besides sessions tailor-made for builders, service technicians and retailers in the conference program, there are educational offerings by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, Genesis, the National Swimming Pool Foundation, Hayward School of Business and the National Plasterers Council. That adds up to a grand total of 67 classes for more than 260 hours.

“Trade shows are a unique experience,” Garcia sums up. “They’re a great way to consolidate the many weeks, and often months, that go into the purchasing process to just a few days. New attendees will be surprised at the knowledge they’ll gain through education, and they’ll be excited by the number of manufacturers exhibiting. … As demonstrated through our educational lineup and exhibit floor features, the PSP Expo encompasses every segment of the pool, spa and outdoor living industries, both residential and commercial.”


• Welcome Party: Unwind Nov. 2, 5:15-7 p.m., in Generations Hall. Originally built in the 1820s as a sugar refinery, it’s decorated with art by prominent local artists and is a popular event venue. There will be hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and soda, and music by a DJ to dance by. Advance registration required; free for conference registrants; $60 for Expo-only registrants.

• APSP WAVE Young Professionals Network Event: On Nov. 2, 4-6 p.m., young pool and spa professionals will meet to network and socialize in Fulton Alley. Admission is $10 for WAVE Network members. Space is limited; advance reservations recommended.

• BBQ Bash: Join other hungry show-goers across the street from the convention center at Sugar Mill’s courtyard on Nov. 3, 5:15-7:15 p.m. Sample savory grilled foods and complimentary wine, beer, soda and water. Free admission, but pre-registration is required.

• Pool Prize Party: This giveaway on Nov. 4, 1-1:30 p.m., features products from exhibitors. Each registered attendee gets a ticket with their name badge, and can collect even more tickets by visiting booths of participating exhibitors. Winners will be named by Brett Raymer and Wayde King of Animal Planet’s “Tanked.” And Water for a Warrior will reveal the 2017 recipient of a new pool for a wounded veteran.

Check out these specialty pavilions in the exhibit hall.

• Outdoor Living Pavilion: The latest products of interest to backyard living professionals are on display at booths in this large pavilion.

• Commercial Pavilion: Products for commercial pool and spa installations will be displayed. The Commercial Education Area will hold sessions Nov. 2-4 on water chemistry and codes for commercial pools, the MAHC and more.

• Casual Furniture Pavilion: After a successful debut last year, this pavilion returns with furniture and related products to spruce up outdoor rooms.

• Genesis Pavilion: Stop by Booth 657 to enjoy networking and educational opportunities offered by the Genesis Lifestyle Program. Enjoy a wine tasting or take a construction, engineering or design class, running Nov. 2-4.

• APSP Pavilion: Visit Booth 2251 to see the 2016 APSP Intl. Award of Excellence winners and relax in the member lounge.

• Booth Scavenger Hunt: Get a scavenger map on the show website at registration and, once you’re at the Expo, follow it to participating exhibitors; collect jewel stamps, and you may win $2,000 cash.

• Product Showcase: The latest industry merchandise is on display in a non-selling setting, including winners in the “New” and “Green” product categories.

• Splash Talks: Free, 15- to 20-minute sessions at Booth 1869 on Nov. 2-3, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Topics range from improving efficiency and reducing costs to differentiating your brand in the digital age.

• Hayward School of Business: These condensed Business 101 classes will be held Nov. 2-3 at Booth 2321. Each course is 45 minutes long, with Q&A afterward. Topics include sales, basic financials, coaching for improved performance and more. Free, but advance registration is required.