CASE STUDY: Halloween & Party Expo

The Objective
To create a large expo in nine months and grow it to become the premier show for the entire Halloween, costume and party industry.

The Challenge
In February 2008, Swift Solutions began discussions with Party Club of America, a buyer group interested in creating a Halloween & Party Expo in Houston. There was an existing national show in Chicago held annually in March. Vendors had expressed an interest to Party Club in participating in a show scheduled in a warmer client at an earlier time the year, preferably in January to give store buyers ample time to order products in time for Halloween.

The Goal
The ultimate goal of the Halloween & Party Expo was to bring Halloween, fantasy costume and party vendors together under one roof, allowing the attending buyers to write up to 100% of their party orders for the year.

The Results

2009 - First Year

  • ​Booth Goal: 800; Achieved: 1,110
  • Attendees: 3,500; Achieved: 4,200

2010-2015

The Halloween & Party Expo quickly became the number one order-writing show in the industry and the largest global show of its kind. It provided the ultimate comparison-shopping, deal-making and early-buying incentives offered by attending exhibitors highlighting thousands of industry-related products. Attendees flocked to the show from more than 63 countries worldwide to meet and network with industry professionals, attend an array of invaluable educational seminars, and preview the best and newest products.
The Halloween & Party Expo offered the best weather and the best timing for on-site sales acquisitions. For six years, the show was held in Houston, which provided a cost-effective location to allow a focus on business with pleasurable weather in the month of January.

New Orleans Milestone

For 2015, show owners decided to move the event to New Orleans. Since the expo is the international showcase for all things party, costume and Halloween related, and New Orleans is one of the world’s top party and costuming cities, the two seemed a perfect match. The Big Easy is famous for its music and food festivals, and—of course— for Mardi Gras, but it is also a city full of people (and vampires, ghosts, pirates, etc.) who love to have fun on any given day of the week. Houston was a wonderful home and birth place for the Halloween & Party Expo, but the organizers and exhibitors felt like New Orleans offered a great change of pace, as a well as a cultural fit for the industry.

 

Audience

Exhibitors

  • 83% of exhibitors returned annually
  • 77% of H&P exhibitors had been in business for more than 10 years

 

Attending Buyers

  • Number Attending annually: 6,500
  • 24% of buyers were international
  • 28% first time attendees
  • 72% repeat customers

Swift Solutions Services

Swift Solutions managed the following aspects of the show from 2008 - 2015, successfully growing it annually.

Booth Sales

  • Provided personable service to exhibitors
  • Increased booths and new exhibitors annually
  • Extremely adept at finding new exhibitors
  • Offered exhibitors free promo to send to customers, included invoice stuffers and flyers
  • Provided interaction with exhibitors through webinars, showing ideas on how to market to their buyers year-round
  • Created a rewards system for exhibitors who promoted their appearance at the show

Additional Components

  • Brought education/demo to the show floor to help educate retail store owners
  • Produced an innovative costume style show to highlight vendors, touted by vendors as the best style show they had seen in 20 years in the industry
  • Added a pet costume show and balloon demonstrations
  • Provided special areas for buyers and exhibitors: Social Media lounge, Boo-hemian Lounge and Zen Den, offering free massages
  • Highlighted new vendor products in a New Product Area
  • Included a professional pumpkin carving area for entertainment
  • Took photos of attendees in costume at an interactive Green Scream Photo area

Co-Located Partner, Endorsed Group Events Managed

  • Party Club of America Members Conference
  • Paper First held education meetings at Expo
  • International Balloon Association annual meeting
  • Industrywide Gala
  • Rubies Annual Costume Bash
  • A professional haunt-focused show, HAuNTcon, co-located  with the show in 2014
  • Special meetings by all exhibitors

Annual Promotion

  • Advertising – Created and placed ads in 23 magazines and publications
  • E-Newsletters – Wrote and distributed bi-monthly e-newsletters to both attendees and exhibitors
  • Promotional Blasts – Wrote and sent monthly sales blasts to potential attendees and exhibitors
  • Tele-marketing – Spearheaded telemarketing each year
  • Mailers – Created and mailed six mailers, including two international mailers
  • Press Releases – Distributed press releases and articles to the press monthly
  • Interactive Videos – Created videos promoting the show to blast through press and social media outlets, as well as YouTube

Registration

  • Provided easier online system link for past attendees to re-register for the following year by way of personalized email and direct link to database entry
  • Added a translator button to the website and offered a translator onsite

Expanded Markets
To include:
  • Haunt Industry
  • Event Planners
  • Rentals
  • International
  • Adult stores
  • Kids Toy Stores
  • Attractions and Theme Parks
  • Grocery Stores / Supermarkets
  • Small Kiosk / Temp Stores
  • Clothing Shops
  • Gift/Card Shop (Associations)
  • Garden Stores
  • Hobby / Craft stores
  • Drug Stores / Candy Stores