The Mid-Atlantic Food, Beverage & Lodging Expo — Sept. 19-20, 2007, at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore — seeks to uplift hospitality-industry exhibitors by offering free marketing promotions.
 
"We felt that our exhibitors can use as many opportunities as possible," said Licia Spinelli, vice president of marketing and special events for the Restaurant Association of Maryland. "We also want to acknowledge and thank them for their support of the show."
 
This year's event — which marks year 52 for the expo — features a quartet of free promotions.
 
For starters, The Seal of Certified Savings will be given to companies exhibiting a restaurant or hospitality product that guarantees savings.
 
Comfort Systems USA in Baltimore has been awarded the seal for two money-saving products, said Debra Baird, vice president of marketing.
 
The first, Intelli-Hood Controls System, is designed for kitchens in restaurants and foodservice businesses to cut heating and cooling energy consumption by reducing fan power, exhaust and make-up air fan output. Average annual savings can be $3,770 or more, Baird said, adding that another $550 could be saved by decreasing the system's electrical demand charge. The second, Superpak Free Cooling System, can reduce a central air-conditioning chiller's operating hours by turning off the chiller during cold periods and using the building's cooling towers to provide chilled water. The system could save an average of 20 percent of a chiller's annual operating costs on an average-size building.
 
The second promotion, the New Product Premiere designation, is for exhibitors offering or distributing a new product for the Mid-Atlantic region.
 
Scott Miller runs foodservice at Baltimore-based Phillips Foods Inc., and will bring his product, Pasteurized King Crab Meat, to the expo. The meat — which is extracted from the shell, pasteurized then packaged in 1-pound tubs — is ready to eat, fully cooked and usable straight from the container. Miller said he hopes the designation of New Product Premiere will benefit his company.
 
"The visibility and exposure will be good for us," he said.
 
Thirdly, exhibitors with an Expo Show Deal will receive additional exposure on the expo's Show Deals Web page and in the printed show guide. Listings include a company logo, a 25-word description of the deal, booth location and contact information.
 
And making its debut this year is an additional benefit to quad exhibitors — those with 20-by-20-foot booths: 500 free personalized admission tickets bearing the company logo, Web site and booth number.
 
"They basically are free passes to give to current or potential customers," Spinelli said. The personalized tickets are offered for a cost to other exhibitors.
                             
While Spinelli said some shows list show deals for free, she hasn't heard of any others offering comparative awards or seals, which she estimated could be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars to exhibitors. In addition to the limelight of press releases and publications such as Foodservice Monthly, promotions receive other attention — such as in-booth signage for the Seal of Certified Savings and New Product Premiere (a $50-75 value per sign, Spinelli said) and a wall of signage listing all promotions.
 
More than 300 exhibitors are expected to attend the expo this year. While the promotions are available to all, Spinelli estimated 30 to 40 percent would take advantage of them.
 
The free promotions play a role in the overarching goal of supporting exhibitors. "One reason we have such good return, exhibitors returning year after year, is because one of our show management mantras is 'Take good care of our exhibitors,'" Spinelli said. "It's an incredibly important part."
 
For more information on the marketing opportunities, visit the expo's Web site.

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