News

December 3, 2020
Emerald hosts first successful in-person event since onset of COVID-19

Emerald, owner of the International Gift Expo of the Smokies (IGES) and sister event to ASD Market Week, celebrated a key milestone for the organization and the expositions industry as a whole. IGES, a comprehensive souvenir, resort, and specialty gift trade show in the U.S., successfully and safely reunited brands, wholesalers, and buyers, Nov. 4-7, 2020, in Pigeon Forge, Tenessee.

Given current market conditions, and in line with pre-market predictions, the number of exhibiting companies declined 60%, though buyer attendance was down only 30%, creating a 75% boost year-over-year in the overall attendee-to-exhibitor ratio, from 7 attendees per exhibitor to 12 attendees per exhibitor. As a result, sentiment scores from exhibiting customers improved across all measures, and confirmed the demand from the gift and souvenir community to connect face-to-face to source new products, replenish inventories, and prepare for the important upcoming holiday season.

“Successfully trading IGES this year is proof that the IGES and ASD Market Week team can produce live events in a controlled, safe environment, especially in a smaller, regional format given the current situation to help our customers get back to business,” said Karalynn Sprouse, executive vice president for Emerald’s merchandise group, which includes the IGES and ASD Market Week brands.

Customers at the show echoed that sentiment. “Given the uncertainty we have all been facing much of this year, attending the IGES show in November was critical to the future success of our business,” said Don Henk, retail operations manager, Massanutten Resort. “IGES helped us maximize the sales and profitability of all our shops by allowing us to connect with our key vendors. There is nothing like seeing the new items, designs, and colors in person. Not to mention talking with new vendors to see what they have to offer, which goes well beyond just products in a catalog.”

Creating a safe and secure environment was a top priority for IGES show management and partners. Prior to the event, Emerald’s Preparedness, Prevention & Response Plan and IGES’s health and safety protocols were communicated to attendees and exhibitors via a Welcome Packet where they acknowledged and accepted IGES’s Terms and Conditions.

Onsite, the team worked closely with the City of Pigeon Forge as well as the event’s hotel partners and the LeConte Center to assure strict adherence to every health and safety standard. Examples of the safety measures implemented at IGES included temperature screening, the required use of face masks at all times, registration queue lines to ensure six-foot social distancing, one-way entrances/exits, transparent shields at all concession stands, and daily disinfection of all seating, restrooms, and frequently touched public areas.

These pre- and onsite measures will again be implemented at the January 2021 edition of Surf Expo as well as upcoming ASD Market Week events. Emerald’s goal is to provide assurance and confidence around the safe reopening of all its events, while placing the highest priority on the well-being of Emerald’s customers, staff, and communities.

For more information please visit the event websites; International Gift Expo of the Smokies, ASD Market Week, and Surf Expo.




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