Pool and spa professionals gathered once again in New Orleans to attend the 2016 International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo.

The event, held Nov. 2-4 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, filled 138,000 square feet of floor space with more than 500 exhibitors and approximately 9,500 attendees. Nearly 130 of those exhibitors were new to the event.

In addition to pool- and spa-industry exhibitors, organizers once again looked to increase exposure to outdoor-living products. This time, 59 outdoor-living-related companies showed their wares. Attendees also were treated to an expansion of the existing Casual Furniture Marketplace, Outdoor Living Pavilion, and Commercial Pavilion.

Education offerings were available for every segment of the industry, including sessions from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and Genesis. Show officials noticed a large turn out for commercial education in comparison to the launch in 2014.

Attendees, such as Julie Pettis, vice president of Pettis Pool and Patio in Hilton, N.Y., took advantage of the 45 new core conference sessions that were available. “I thought the seminars were fantastic,” said Pettis, a long-time attendee of the event. “I really felt like I got something out of them.”

The event also brought an international flair to the Convention Center. Seventy-three countries were represented, an increase from 66 in 2015. “It shows that the PSP Expo truly is where the entire industry gathers,” said show director Tracy Garcia.

Rick Mouw, partner at Holland, Mich.-based Passion Spas, whose company exhibited at the show, noticed the increase in international traffic, and was very pleased with the show floor traffic overall.

He noted that there was a nice blend of larger dealers who were seeking to do “truckload buying,” as well as smaller companies whose executives were interested in purchasing fewer than half a dozen spas.

But it wasn’t all business as usual. Attendees could unwind and relax in the Crescent City at a variety of social and networking events. These included APSP’s WAVE Network Reception for younger professionals, the annual Welcome Party at Generations Hall, the BBQ Bash, where guests were treated to delicious grilled foods at a local restaurant, and the annual Genesis Family Reunion & Winemaking Dinner.

Due to the success of this year’s Expo, organizers report an increase in the number of exhibitors that renewed on-site to show at next year’s event. Nearly 170 companies have already contracted space for 2017, an increase of 101 companies from last year, Garcia said.

If you missed any of the action this year, you can clear your calendar now for next year’s show. It will be held in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center Nov. 1-3, 2017.