You might say the stars are aligned for the 2017 Pool & Spa Show powered by NESPA. “We are on track for continued growth this year from both exhibitors and attendees,” says Trish McCormick, show manager. “We’ve been seeing an upswing the last few years as we move past the recession.”

So it is that organizers at the Northeast Spa & Pool Association anticipate in excess of 400 exhibiting firms and hundreds of industry-specific products and services on display at the show, which returns to the Atlantic City, N.J., Convention Center for the conference, Jan. 23-26, and exhibits, Jan. 24-26.

“We’re also seeing more companies bringing more employees to the show ... not only technical staff, but more office and sales staffs are taking advantage of our business sessions,” McCormick adds.

Speaking of education, more than 70 business and technical classes are in the lineup — plus certification programs from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, National Swimming Pool Foundation and National Plasterers Council, as well as industry specialty and general sessions.

The show’s mobile app, available on the NESPA website, has features such as an interactive show-floor plan; exhibitor profiles and the ability to schedule meetings with exhibitors; conference schedule; and show announcements. It also can function as a central place to keep one’s notes, to-do lists and follow-up items.

New for 2017 are the Outstanding Achievement Awards, to be bestowed at the annual Awards Celebration. Slated for Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. in the convention center, there will be presentations of over 80 builder awards in 41 categories, and 11 service companies will be recognized. “So many of our award winners are also dedicated show attendees, it just makes sense to bring these two events together,” McCormick explains. “Plus, we’ll be able to showcase the world-class work done by these builders and service companies in front of a wider group of industry peers.”

Admission to the exhibit hall is free for industry members; to register for a show badge and to buy education passes, visit thepoolspashow.com.


CLASS IN SESSION

Everyone from industry rookies to veteran professionals is sure to find something they need in this year’s extensive education program. Here’s a rundown of the offerings:

Technical and Business Sessions
On the technical side, McCormick says, “we’ve brought back our must-attend classes, which always bring large crowds.” Basic and advanced water chemistry, as well as saltwater chemistry, are in the mix. Topics such as energy efficiency, safety standards and proper hydraulics also are expected to be a draw.

Meanwhile, the business track includes sessions on the sales process and how pool professionals can take advantage of new technologies to connect with prospective customers. Interest in this topic has been high in recent years, so show organizers are offering the day-long “Sales Coaching and Role Play Workshop: Unleash the Power of Question-Based Selling.”

Likewise, the high demand for classes conducted in Spanish has led to six this year: Heater Operation and Installation; Basic Water Chemistry; Proper Circulation and Hydraulics for Swimming Pools; Chlorine Generators: Residential Installation and Operation; Pump/Motor Options Installation and Programming; and Automatic Controls Operation and Options.

Certifications
Those seeking certification programs have come to the right place. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has the APSP Certified Hot Tub Technician (CHTT), Certified Maintenance Specialist (CMS), Certified Service Technician (CST) and the Certified Pool & Spa Construction Course (PSCC). The APSP certification exams will be Wednesday, Jan. 25, 1-5 p.m.

The National Swimming Pool Foundation will offer the Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Course. And the National Plasterers Council is holding the Pool Start-Up Certification Course as well as its Pool Start-Up Recertification Course.

General and Specialty Sessions
Three free General Sessions are open to all show attendees: “Medicare Workshop: What Baby Boomers Need to Know” on Monday, Jan. 23; “Uncovering the Future of the Pool Industry” on Tuesday, Jan. 24; and “Licensing Updates for the Northeast” on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

The Specialty Sessions require separate registration and aren’t included in business or technical passes. As mentioned earlier, there’s the “Sales Coaching and Role Play Workshop” on Monday. And on Wednesday there are two: “Get Inside the Minds of Today’s Swimming Pool Buyers” and “Spa Pack Advanced Diagnostics Workshop”; bring your own multimeter.


A ‘WILD’ PARTY


On Monday, Jan. 23, the Welcome Party is at Bally’s Saloon Bar, which is part of the Wild Wild West Casino. From 7-10 p.m., party-goers can network and enjoy snacks, beverages, live music and dancing. There also are gaming tables, beer pong tables and even a mechanical bull. Admission is $20; register on the NESPA website.


WATER IN MOTION


Debuting last year, “The Wall: Water in Motion” has been expanded and enhanced for 2017. This large-scale, hands-on demo area on the show floor was designed to instruct viewers on the latest pool hydraulics technology. It has been expanded to over 2,000 square feet of interactive learning this year, says McCormick. She adds that the new overall focus is on showing the key ways to create pools that today’s customers want, including longer swim time with heaters and heat pumps; enhanced backyard environs with lighting, maximum efficiency and cost savings; and peace of mind because all safety measures have been met.


Show Schedule

SUNDAY, JAN. 22

8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
NSPF’s CPO Course, Day 1


MONDAY, JAN. 23

8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
NSPF’s CPO Course, Day 2

10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Specialty Session: Sales Coaching & Role Play

12:30-3:45 p.m.
Seminars

2:15-3:45 p.m.
Free General Session: Medicare

7-10 p.m.
Welcome Party at Bally’s Saloon Bar

TUESDAY, JAN. 24

8:30-11:45 a.m.
Seminars

10:15-11:45 a.m.
Free General Session: Pool Industry’s Future

11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Exhibits open

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 25

8:30-10 a.m.
Specialty Session: Inside Pool Buyers’ Minds

8:30-11:45 a.m.
Seminars

8:30-3 p.m.
Specialty Session: Spa Pack Advanced Diagnostics

10:15-11:45 a.m.
Free General Session: Licensing Updates for the Northeast

11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Exhibits open

THURSDAY, JAN. 26

8:30-10 a.m.
Seminars

10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Exhibits


Note: Events occur at the Atlantic City Convention Center unless otherwise noted. This info is the latest available at press time.

Sightseeing

The East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, N.J., is more than the casinos that line the Boardwalk. Here are some nearby attractions for attendees to visit.

Absecon Lighthouse: New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse is open Thursdays through Mondays for people to climb the 228 steps to the top. At 171 feet, it’s also the third-tallest lighthouse in the country. Visitors can also explore the 2-acre property and visit the Keeper’s Cottage museum and gift shop. Admission: lighthouse, $7 adults; museum and grounds, free. 31 S. Rhode Island Ave., A.C.; 609.449.1360.

Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa: The hotel features a collection of blown glass sculptures from contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly. The chandelier in the main lobby is one of his pieces, and others are displayed throughout the hotel. 1 Borgata Way, A.C.; 609. 317.1000.

Balic Winery: Established in 1966, Balic Winery offers more than 30 varieties of wine from a vineyard planted in the early 1900s. The vineyard offers free wine tastings tours and winery and vineyard tours every day. 6623 Harding Hwy, Mays Landing, N.J.; 609.625.1903.

Civil Rights Garden: If it’s the outdoors you’re craving, take a walk in these tranquil public gardens featuring 11 granite columns, winding paths and sculptures with inscriptions related to the history, events and people of the civil rights movement. Pacific Ave. & Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., A.C.; 609.347.0500.

Noyes Arts Garage: At the Arts Garage, artists work in their studio/shop spaces. Each focuses on a different medium, including painting, pastels, photography, illustration, found object sculpture and more. Visitors are invited to watch the artists at work, ask questions about their creative process, and purchase original artwork. Open Wednesdays through Sundays. 2200 Fairmount Ave, A.C.; 609.626.3805.

The Playground at Caesars: This upscale entertainment complex, built on a 900 foot pier over the Atlantic Ocean, features 464,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and nightlife. Be sure to visit Level 3 for a striking view of Atlantic City. 1 Atlantic Ocean, A.C.; 609.345.3100.

Qua Baths and Spa: Relax and enjoy spa treatments followed by a complimentary signature Roman bath. Reminiscent of old Roman bath houses, you’ll find three pools, each a different size and temperature. 2100 Pacific Ave, A.C.; 609.343.2400.