Words such as “spectacular” have been used to describe the Long Beach (Calif.) Convention Center and it’s easy to see why.
As one of the few waterfront convention facilities in the nation, it boasts a striking glass concourse and lobby with inviting views of the harbor and city skyline, and lots of exhibit space. And it’s nestled in the heart of the city, within walking distance of top-notch restaurants, attractions, shops and 5.5 miles of beach.
Soon service technicians, builders and retailers will experience all that when the Western Pool & Spa Show comes to Convention Center Hall A on Feb. 21-23.
At 91,000 square feet, that exhibit hall is bigger than last year’s 78,000-square-foot space, says Peter Haverlation, a longtime show organizer and current director of registration. So whereas last year’s space could handle up to 188 booths, this larger area will hold up to 220.
The decision to go for a larger hall was based on a couple of factors, says Haverlation. For one thing, it was available. Second, this is a big year for WPSS — its 35th anniversary — and what with the special celebration and all, perhaps attendance will exceed the 9,000 mark.
If pre-registration is any indication, the 2013 event will enjoy a healthy turnout.
This is the second year that registration online has been strongly encouraged, and industry members have been responding well to the shift from paper to computer — so much so that approximately 70 percent of class registration was done online last year, says Haverlation. All it takes is a visit to the WPSS website and, upon completion of the form, an email confirmation is sent. The attendee prints out the confirmation and brings it to the convention center to expedite issuance of the badge, which admits them to the show. In addition, those who want to self-register on a laptop at the center are welcome to do so, and show volunteers are ready to assist, if needed.
The show itself promises the usual extensive seminar lineup, a bustling exhibit hall, and favorite events such as the putting contest and truck giveaway.
For information on city attractions, go to www.visitlongbeach.com.
Fun and Games
The Western Pool & Spa Show is big on exhibits and education, but organizers never forget to include events that are fan favorites. This year, there is special cause for celebration — it’s been 35 years since a group of Southern California technicians decided to launch a trade show devoted to all things of a pool and spa service nature. Let’s see what sort of events are on tap for 2013.
> WPSS 35th Anniversary Party. Head over to the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach on Friday, Feb. 22, for this gala event. Admission tickets are $25 each and can be purchased online, at registration in the convention center, or at the door. The ticket includes a dinner buffet, no-host bar, and live music and dancing. Attendees will be entered into a raffle, with the chance to win either a weekend stay on the Queen Mary, the luxury ocean liner turned hotel, plus tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific, a tour of the Queen herself and spending money – or the grand prize of a visit to the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 19-21; it includes three nights at the Renaissance Hotel, two passes to the Prix and spending money.
> Putting contest. Thanks to the expanded show floor this year, the putting contest will have more space for golfers to show their prowess. The nine-hole course, open during show hours, costs $5 to play. (The fee increased a dollar over last year.) The proceeds will be split 50/50, with half going to the winner and half to SPEC, the legislative advocate for the California pool and spa industry.
> Raffles. There will be drawings every hour, with prizes ranging from TVs and sound equipment to pool products, maybe even gas cards.
>Truck giveaway. This is the 25th year some lucky service technician will drive away in a brand-new truck. Three names are drawn on Thursday, three on Friday and four on Saturday, with 10 finalists winning valuable prizes. “It’s a big deal to make it that far in the contest,” WPSS’ Peter Haverlation notes. The final drawing for a Dodge truck will be held Saturday, between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.; must be present to win.