The Experience Convention & Trade Show is finally returning to Las Vegas this September 8-10, after being cancelled in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, the show organizers have put together an agenda full of tracks on cleaning and restoration, as well as interactive and hands-on learning experiences.

We caught up with Larry Cooper, executive director of Experience Events, to learn what’s in store for attendees. The Q&A below, recorded in July, captures highlights from Cooper’s preview of the show. For the full interview, including keynote speakers, watch the video above.  

Q. What has planning looked like this time around?

A. Well, it's certainly been different than what we've experienced in the past and been a long time since we've been in Vegas. That was 2019. But coming off of Charleston, we learned a lot. And thank goodness our country is opened up so that we don't have to do testing, we don't have to have restrictions. There's no limited numbers and the show's just thriving right now. It's been slow getting employees back into their positions. So we've had to work a little harder to get things done, but the show’s really come along so we're very excited to get everybody out and see them all and have a good time. Yeah. We just did a comparison from ‘19 to ‘21, because there was no ’20. We were running about 120% ahead of registration at that time which is great, the more significant thing is our trade show hall. We have 240 booths and we're down to 34 booths. This time in 2019 we had over 100 booths left. … So people are registering early they're getting involved in, and it's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. Let’s talk about the pre-conference. What learning opportunities are there? 

A. We have four different things going on with pre conference. The first one is a full day seminar on how to build your dream business with Howard Partridge. … The other thing we're doing at this show we have never done, and I'm not sure it's been done in the industry, is we're doing some tracks and some classes specifically in Spanish. First class in Spanish will be an OSHA 10 class on Tuesday, Sept. 7. If you don't speak Spanish, you don't want to register for this class. It will only be in Spanish. And we're having quite a reception to that and really want to thank NORMI for helping us organize this and bring it together. And then the third class that day is Phil Rosebrook … and they're going to do a class on why when and how to sell your restoration business, which is a great class. I sat in for a few minutes on the last one. It's an all-day class, it'd be taught by Gokul Padmanabhan and Phil Rosebrook and those guys are fantastic. And then finally, Fiber Protector America's doing a private event, so if you're involved with Fiber Protector of America, you could certainly jumped in on their meeting that's going on all day also.

Q. What hands-on learning opportunities will be available this fall?

A. Well, first of all, you know, we have been studying how people learn for a long time, and we've concluded that our show is hitting the dial correctly. So we do classroom training to begin with. We have five tracks of education. We have cleaning in one track, restoration in one track, management and marketing in a track, the good life and then some general subjects in a track. The good life, by the way, is about healthy living, healthy eating, exercise, stretching. And then finally, track five – on Wednesday that track we'll all be in Spanish that first day, and then NORMI will be doing remediation training, and then a RCS we'll be doing training on area rug cleaning. There's a whole variety of things there. 

So we do classroom training. We have 45 instructors coming in to train and then we go to the trade show hall where we're doing a lot of hands-on. I mean a lot of hands-on. There's so much going on. So we built the house as you mentioned – we've been building that for I think nine or 10 years – and then we flood it. And then we bring in great instructors led by Barry Costa, and they do best practice. They teach people the latest technology, the best tools, Bluetooth, new ideas about how to dry properly inside of walls, mold ,whatever it is that's going on there. Then of course, this year we're bringing Jeff Jones back in, and he's going to do his amazing dog and pony show with PPE, you know, proper protocols, making sure that your crews are properly trained and there's a whole team of instructors there. 

But this year we decided to do something really unique to jazz up the whole show. So we're introducing the restoration cage. Right next to the flood house is an area that's 80 by 25, all on chain link. There's a 15-foot screen in there with a camera person, all live demonstrations. So when they're doing live demonstrations, you can see it on the screen. But then we're going to have a lot of fun we have emcees who are podcast guys and gals. And then we hired one of the top DJs from Las Vegas to come in and in between the breaks, do some entertaining, play some music, just have a lot of fun. There'll be other demos going on in that space also. 

And then, that's just the beginning of it. All the way across the hall. Shaw Industries, who is the largest manufacturer floor covering in the world, is doing the Shaw Learning Lab. And they have a huge area and they're just going to be doing constant, ongoing, hands-on training of hard surface and soft surface floors, and they'll also be teaching hard surface repairs, especially on luxury vinyl tile and plank, which is a real common problem right now but nobody knows how to do it properly. So, the head of technical services will be there, the head of shop product care will be there. That's going to be awesome. 

A couple of other things I'll highlight. Right in the center of the room Clean Right bought a space, and we're reintroducing our campfires. I don't know if you remember those, but the campfires are a small area of 10 to 15 people sitting in a circle with an instructor and dedicated subjects specifically, both lecture and hands-on. So they're going to be doing fiber and fabric cleaning there. On the other side NORMI is going to be doing campfire specifically related to remediation. And then in the back of the room, the health and wellness area will have a campfire, and we're bringing in instructor who's going to be teaching about stretching – especially your shoulders that you're overusing and causing problems. He's going to be talking about nutrition. What is the junk you're eating and fast food places when you're in a hurry instead of taking care of it? What else can you be doing to work with your team, so that they're healthy all year round so they're not sick and out part of the year? So that's kind of a fun area.

I can go on and on with how many other hands-on demos are going on in the room, there's so much going on, is very active and going to be a lot of fun.