Fitness industry conferences and trade shows can blend together, one looking the same as the next. So after two years of consultations with people at every level of the fitness industry, we are implementing 10 changes at this year's Club Industry Show, Oct. 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. (More about those consultations at the bottom of this blog.) The goal of these changes is to create a more intimate, educational and rewarding experience for you.
Here are 10 ways this year's Club Industry Show will be different:
1. One new location for everything. Yes, this means goodbye to taking shuttle buses to the welcome reception during evening rush hour and goodbye to taking shuttle buses to and from early morning workouts during morning rush hour traffic. We moved the Club Industry Show to the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in the heart of downtown Chicago on Wacker Drive. (This is not the Hyatt at McCormick Place.) The move allows you to stay at the same place the show is being hosted (make sure to book your hotel room through our partner, OnPeak) and experience more easily what Chicago has to offer, from the Magnificent Mile to many restaurants and historic landmarks. You can now stay right at the event for easier access to the show, the welcome reception and the Networking Nightcap (both being held at the Hyatt Regency), other networking events and conference sessions. Whether you are local or visiting from out of town, you will have more opportunities to engage with peers. And don't worry locals -- the Hyatt Regency has plenty of parking for you, including valet parking options.
In addition to the exhibit hall, this year's show features a showcase pavilion. While the traditional exhibit hall will feature the usual excitement of new products and services, the showcase pavilion will offer a more intimate opportunity for you to have conversations with vendors. The showcase pavilion is convenient to the registration area and will be open during regular exhibit hall hours as well as during the welcome reception.
Who better to help us put together great sessions than experts in the fitness industry? We enlisted experts last year to help us develop a few tracks, but this year, we added even more experts. Track chairs are Bill McBride, CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3 (leadership); Dr. Kevin Steele, principal with Communications Consultants (wellness); Casey Conrad, president of Communications Consultants (marketing); Karen Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training (sales) and Eddie Tock, chair, REX Roundtables (operations). The track chairs were responsible for picking sessions and speakers in their tracks as well as presenting at least one session of their own. Additional tracks without track chairs include active training, retention/customer service, programming and personal training. In addition to adding track chairs, we expanded the number of sessions by adding an extra half day to the conference program on Friday morning. We also added educational (and free) exhibitor presented sessions
Wellness has been a buzzword for years, but we know that with the Affordable Care Act and its new requirements for the healthcare community, the obesity crisis and rising healthcare costs, now is the time for the health club industry to be completely focused on wellness. In conjunction with wellness track chair Dr. Steele, we developed a full day of wellness sessions that include presentations by two doctors. The sessions will share how you can play a role in bringing wellness to your community while increasing your member base, loyalty to your facility and revenue.
Four lunch presentations will allow you to continue to learn while networking over lunch with other attendees. The marketing track on Oct. 12 will offer a luncheon roundtable on "Referral Mania: How to Maximize Referral Programs at Your Club," led by Conrad, while on that same day the wellness track will offer a lunch presentation on "How to Take Advantage of Insurance Reimbursement for Preventive Care That Is Driven by Healthcare Reform" by Mike Benton, president and CEO of Genavix. On Oct. 13, Woodard will lead a luncheon roundtable on "Will Salespeople Soon Be Obsolete?" while McBride will offer a lunch presentation on "Strategic Thinking for Health Club Leaders." You must sign up for the luncheons, which cost an additional $30, in advance so we can ensure we have enough meals. The lunch presentations will allow you increased interaction, conversation and sharing of ideas with your peers.
6. Better food options. For those not signing up for one of the four lunch presentations, the Hyatt Regency offers several restaurants inside the hotel and plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Plus, we've allowed for a full 90 minutes for lunch, allowing you more time to meet with people—or grab a quick lunch and head to the exhibit hall or showcase pavilion.
Not only will the show have its traditional welcome reception on Oct. 12, but it also will bring back the popular Networking Nightcap event on Oct. 13. In addition, a happy hour will be held on the trade show floor on the afternoon of Oct. 13 prior to the keynote, and 30-minute networking breaks between sessions will occur on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13 near the conference session rooms.
8. Early morning workouts. Because the event is at the show hotel, we are bringing back the early morning workouts on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14. The workout at 7 a.m. on Oct. 13 is offered by BollyX on the patio outside the showcase pavilion (in the Crystal Ballroom). BollyX also will host an exercise class at 7 a.m. on Oct. 14 in the same location, but if you prefer your workouts on equipment, then the exhibit hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the exhibit hall.
9. More time to get a great deal on the early bird rate. The early bird rate used to end in early June, but we've expanded the time for you to reap some major savings by moving the early bird deadline to June 29. That's coming up soon, so sign up now to get your best rate. After June 29, the exhibit hall is no longer free, increasing to $20 on June 30 and to $35 on Oct. 9. Also, after June 29, the all-access pass increases by $180 while on Oct. 9, the all-access pass increases by $230 from the early bird price.
We moved the Lifetime Achievement Award and keynote presentations to 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 13 to avoid any early morning rush hour situations for locals. You don't want to miss this year's presentations. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Annbeth Eschbach, founder and CEO of Exhale Enterprises, and the keynote address is being presented by Bo Burlingham, author of "Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big."
So, how did all of these changes come about? For the past two years, we've been hosting focus meetings with vendors, health club owners/CEOs, trainers, directors, general managers and others at commercial clubs, university rec centers, and parks and rec facilities to find out what they (and you) want from a conference and trade show. Many of the suggestions are in place for this year's show, and other suggestions are being considered for future years. If you have additional suggestions, share in the comment section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are excited about all of the changes we have in store for this year's show," said Marty McCallen, Club Industry brand manager. "People are going to see a different event this year. It will be much more cohesive and intimate with more opportunities to meet with people and less time spent traveling back and forth between hotels for attendees."
One other request we listened to: People wanted to know further in advance when future shows would be. So, good news. We have booked the 2017 and 2018 shows already:
- Oct. 4-6, 2017, at the Chicago Hilton
- Oct. 24-26, 2018, at the Chicago Hilton
Mark your calendars for the next two years. You won't want to miss the additional changes we have in store — all to bring you an even better education and networking experience. And register for this year's Club Industry Show now before the rates increase on June 30.