Two new industry events meant to cater to underserved markets are reporting success their first time around.

A new Southeast Pool & Spa Show took place Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, catering to businesses in the region.

The area hadn’t had its own convention since 2006. Officials at the local Association of Pool & Spa Professionals regional office, which previously held the event, halted it indefinitely in 2007, saying they needed to focus on integrating with a new national APSP structure, which has since been scrapped.

This time, the show was organized by the same company that has put on the Mid-America Pool and Spa Show for more than 10 years.

“There was a market there that wasn’t being filled,” said Show President Guy Larsen. “The Florida show was quite a long distance from there and so is Atlantic City, so there was nothing for the people who don’t have the ability to fly to the national shows.”

Organizers reported attendance of approximately 1,200, including exhibitor personnel. Show planners had to expand the exhibitor space more than once, Larsen said, to accommodate the approximately 100 companies that ultimately showed their wares. “We were overwhelmed with the way people viewed it,” said Larsen, who’s also president of All Seasons Pools & Spas in Orland Park, Ill. “The vendors were thrilled because they had a lot of activity.”

Additionally, close to 400 attendees took advantage of the 24-seminar conference.

Organizers have set a new date for the next show, Feb. 3-6, 2013, at the same venue.

The aquatics industry also saw a void filled when the new Association of Aquatic Professionals held its inaugural Conference and Exhibition Feb. 13-16 in Austin, Texas. This was the first year the industry went without the National Aquatic Conference, previously held by the National Recreation & Park Association, which stopped holding the event last year.

The association sought a broad audience, targeting not only aquatics operators, but also builders, service and maintenance professionals, safety advocates and manufacturers. “We purposely created an association that has no barriers,” said AOAP Executive Director Farhad Madani. “Our ultimate goal is to bring everyone together because [issues such as] the new ADA requirements not only impact builders and designers, but also pool operators and managers. That’s why it’s very important to have that communication between all groups.”

AOAP applied the same philosophy when planning its event, with the public admitted for certain times of the day and exhibitors encouraged to attend classes.

Organizers said they started with modest goals for the conference — 100 attendees and 40 exhibitors. Those numbers were surpassed, with 150 attendees and more than 60 exhibiting firms. AOAP officials have signed on to hold the new event for at least the next two years.

Next year’s conference takes place March 3-6 at Austin’s Renaissance Hotel. The group has its sights set higher next year. “My attendance goals next year are 250 to 300 attendees and at least 100 exhibitors, and we’re still going to provide a great show,” Madani said.

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