What began with a tradeshow launch and a blizzard has since evolved into the largest gift, airport retail and souvenir tradeshow organizer in the U.S.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Urban Expositions marks this important milestone with the launch of a brand new website that showcases the tradeshow management company’s explosive growth and recent diversification into other industry sectors, including Foodservice, Art, Gaming, Specialty and Aviation.
Founded in 1995, Urban Expositions launched its semi-annual Philadelphia Gift Show in January 1996 during a severe nor’easter that paralyzed much of the Eastern Seaboard with upwards of three feet of snow.
Undeterred, Urban Expositions Partners Doug Miller, president, and Tim von Gal, chief operating officer, have since led Urban to its current–day position as a dominant force in the gift and souvenir sector and a rapidly emerging show management leader in the Foodservice, Art, Gaming and Aviation industries – boasting a total of 35 shows a year.
“Our Philadelphia Gift Show launch embodies the very heart and soul of our company,” explained Miller. “We developed the show to fill a void in the marketplace, securing the feedback and solid support of the region’s sales agencies and retailers to create an event that truly served their specialized needs. Despite its challenging start, and because of its overwhelming industry support and the hard work of our own dedicated show team, we’ve watched it grow and prosper over the years. Listening to customers in the industries we serve, overcoming obstacles, and producing events that help our attendees and exhibitors succeed, are our guiding principles.”
“For us, it’s all about the customer,” added von Gal, describing Urban’s hands-on management approach. “As we embarked on our long-term expansion strategy in recent years, we’ve looked for prospects that offered business growth and synergistic opportunities across our entire show roster. To help us get there, we always focus on building lasting partnerships and friendships with members of the B2B communities we’re hoping to serve. With their guidance, we work to shape the best possible event experience for all parties.”
The company’s growth has been fueled over the years by a series of show launches, strategic acquisitions, referrals from business associates and industry friends, brand extensions, and strong partnerships with associations and other industry groups.
Urban’s new website offers a true snapshot of just how much the company has grown and evolved over its 20-year history. As a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate showcase of the company’s expanding show roster and services, it offers quick access to dates, details and other information for shows in each of the company’s divisions, including:
GIFT & SOUVENIR
Specializing in shows custom-tailored to the regions it serves, Urban’s largest division encompasses 21 successful gift, decorative accessory, souvenir and resort merchandise tradeshows. These include the semi-annual California Gift Show, Orlando Gift Show and Orlando Cash & Carry Show, Philadelphia Gift Show, San Francisco International Gift Fair, Seattle Gift Show, Windy City Gift Show and the annual Boston Gift Show, Fort Lauderdale Gift Show, Galveston Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show , Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show, Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Panama City Beach Gift Show, Portland Gift Show, and Smoky Mountain Gift Show.
CASH & CARRY SHOWS
An integral part of a western region growth initiative that began with the launch of its Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show in 2007; the purchase of the San Francisco International Gift Fair and Seattle Gift Show from dmg world media in 2009; and later, the acquisition of the California Gift Show from Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) in 2012, Urban acquired the Portland Gift & Accessories Show and the portfolio of Cash & Carry Shows from Western Exhibitors in 2011. Currently held in San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles, these annual events give retailers convenient access to a wide range of items available for order-writing or immediate delivery to the trade.
Kicking off Urban’s diversification into other, related sectors, the company acquired Airport Revenue News (ARN) in 2012. ARN is the airport revenue industry’s leading magazine, keeping readers up-to-date on the latest trends, emerging opportunities and new developments in the business of airports. ARN also hosts its annual Airport Revenue Conference & Exhibition, the most highly attended, targeted revenue conference in the airport industry. Additionally, ARN publishes the annual Fact Book, the industry’s only resource for important data in the airport concessions business. Most recently, Urban recently partnered with Lift Event Management, in affiliation with Flying Magazine, to launch Flying Aviation Expo, a new, annual event featuring aircraft, exhibit booths and conference panels serving pilots and other aviation professionals.
In June 2013, Urban acquired the international Sculpture Objects, Functional Art + Design Fair (SOFA) from The Art Fair Company. Held annually, this is Chicago’s longest continuously running art fair and the world’s foremost fair dedicated to studio glass, ceramics, wood, fiber and metal. Attracting visitors and exhibitors from around the globe, the Fair’s artist talks, demonstrations and special exhibitions have made it an indispensable meeting place for artists, collector, dealers, curators and scholars.
Seeking to expand its retail/restaurant/hospitality offerings, Urban acquired the U.S. restaurant and lodging portfolio from Reed Exhibitions in August 2013, which includes the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and Expo Comida Latina. As part of the acquisition, Urban also purchased the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show from the New York State Restaurant Association, which was managed and produced by Reed Exhibitions. As the only comprehensive events dedicated exclusively to their respective region’s restaurant, hospitality and foodservice industries, each of the Food Shows has its own personality and style.
In an effort to further strengthen and expand its annual Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention, the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) partnered with Urban in February 2014. As part of the relationship, Urban now handles all tradeshow floor sales, marketing and operational duties for the association’s annual industry event for the Indian casino-entertainment industry.
In November 2014, Urban Expositions teamed up with the Halloween Industry Association (HIA) to acquire the Halloween & Party Expo from H&P Expo, LLC. Under the new partnership, Urban Expositions is responsible for managing all aspects of the prominent, annual event for the Halloween and party industry, including sales, operations, marketing and promotion with guidance and expertise provided by the Halloween Industry Association.
“We are actively exploring other acquisition, launch and complementary co-location opportunities — within the sectors we currently serve, as well as in other areas that might offer new avenues of growth,” added Miller. “As always, we welcome and encourage ideas and leads from members of the B2B community.”
As Urban’s show portfolio has grown, so too has its staff, which now includes 75 employees. The company also underwent a recent restructuring, which included the appointment of former Reed Exhibitions executive Courtney Muller to the new post of executive vice president. Muller reports directly to Partners and Owners Miller and von Gal, and now oversees much of the day-to-day management of the company as well as seeking out new acquisition, launch and partnerships for the company.
She is joined by other members of the executive team, including Dirk von Gal, industry vice president of gift; Donna Guess, vice president of souvenir shows and operations; Mike Carlucci, vice president of sales; Joan Ulrich, vice president of marketing and specialty shows; Ron Mathews, vice president of Foodservice; David Broderick, executive director & publisher, ARN, and Jeannie Leggett, vice president of finance.
In addition to its corporate headquarters in Kennesaw, Ga., Urban also has offices in Shelton, Conn. and Boca Raton, Fla. as well as many remote employees based in areas that are rich with customers.
The new website offers a convenient contact directory for show team members, corporate offices and the executive committee.
For more information on Urban Expositions, its shows and services, visit www.urban-expo.com or call 800.318.2238.