Five things that made International Pizza Expo 2014 the biggest year to date.
It’s been a more than a month since International Pizza Expo and the Pizza Expo and Pizza Today team returned energized by the pizzeria industry’s enthusiasm and electricity that filled the Las Vegas Convention Center on March 24-27. And it’s because of you — pizzeria operators, suppliers, manufacturers and industry experts.
“I would say the 2014 International Pizza Expo was characterized by passion and positivity,” says Pizza Today editor-in-chief Jeremy White. “The energy and enthusiasm for the craft was at an all-time high. Operators were optimistic and eager to soak up any new idea that would help take their business to the next level.
“As is fitting considering it is the 30th anniversary of the show, the overall mood was celebratory. Optimism abounds. The industry is really functioning at a high-level collectivity right now, and that clearly came through at this year’s show.”
Five things that made this year’s Pizza Expo one for the record books are:
Who would have predicted that this year’s expo turnout would crush 2013’s record-breaking attendance? Nearly 8,000 attendees packed the show floor, seminar rooms and demonstration areas, up from almost 7,000 last year. Add another nearly 4,000 exhibitor personnel and this year’s expo was a city dedicated to the pizzeria industry.
“I think our double-digit increase in attendance and exhibitors is due to our multifaceted marketing program, improved economy, expanded education program and the overall vitality of the pizza industry,” says Bill Oakley, Executive Vice President of Macfadden Protech, LLC, parent company of Pizza Today and International Pizza Expo. “This year we also experienced a significant increase in international attendees and exhibitors, which is attributable to our increased international marketing efforts and overall reputation as being the premier international event for the foreseeable future.”
The Show Floor
Spanning more than five-and-a-half football fields, the show floor featured more than 1,070 exhibit booths of pizza-related supplies, equipment and services — the most exhibit space in the history of Pizza Expo.
“We plan to increase the size of the floor by another 25 percent in 2016 to accommodate the increased demand for exhibit space,” Oakley says.
Class was in session during the intensive pre-show School of Pizzeria Management workshops that kicked off the week. The sessions carried into New Operator Monday with huge crowds of new and early-arriving attendees who got a jumpstart on seminars geared toward addressing the issues pressing to pizzeria operators.
Successful pizzeria operators and industry experts led more than 90 seminars, demonstrations and workshops on everything from employee management solutions, understanding the new healthcare laws and increasing profit margins to menu engineering strategies, marketing through social media and how to avoid common start-up mistakes.
The 30th Birthday Bash is one that will be talked about for years to come. We pulled out all of the stops to celebrate Pizza Expo’s 30th anniversary. A Motown band and accompanying pop singer got the record crowd going. The food, beverages and game stations, like corn hole, card table faux gaming and darts, throughout made for a festive block-party style event.
The World Pizza Games (WPG) finals culminated the evening. WPG newcomer Lee Mooney from South Korea stunned the audience with his talents when he took the freestyle acrobatic title, while Master Division champion Justin Wadstein introduced a duck-themed blowup kiddie pool to his spinning routine.
The International Pizza Challenge and the World Pizza Games crowned winners of — a record —11 world titles.
Nearly 170 pizzaiolos from around the world competed head-to-head to determine who’s the “best of the best” during the three-day International Pizza Challenge.