LP Gas

Insights into the Propane Expo planning process

Atlanta or Nashville? How about both?

That’s how the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) Conventions Committee, composed of propane marketers, equipment manufacturers, representatives from companies offering products and services to the industry, as well as NPGA staff, is approaching the foreseeable future of the industry’s largest trade show.

The 2016 and 2017 Propane Expo events took place at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo just concluded two solid years in the Music City, where total attendance (combining attendees and exhibitor personnel) reached more than 4,100 in 2016 and just over 4,000 this year. The 2016 figure was up more than 1,000 total attendees from 2015, the last year the show was held in Atlanta.

So without a doubt, Nashville was a hit. And what’s not to like about a city whose convention center (the 4-year-old Music City Center) sits in the heart of Broadway Avenue’s music and entertainment district? To the propane industry, Nashville was new and vibrant with plenty to offer convention goers. The city drew instant positive reaction from the industry and skepticism about the show’s return to Atlanta, which had hosted the convention for decades before that run ended in 2015. Years before, NPGA officials had sought ways to inject new life into the event, and a new host city was one of the proposed solutions. It seems that solution worked.

The convention-planning process can be complicated, with host cities requiring commitments from trade groups years in advance and sometimes offering limited open dates. That played into the current rotation between Atlanta and Nashville, as the Conventions Committee worked to decide the most attractive and logical venues for the show. Each city will host three Propane Expos over the next six years. Adding a third city to the mix as a way to keep things fresh has also been part of the discussion.

The committee, on which LP Gas magazine has a seat, hosted its annual summer planning meeting in Atlanta to get an updated look and feel of the city since it last welcomed the propane industry. Representatives from the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau talked of a newfound vibrancy, citing Atlanta’s in-town neighborhoods that “give the city its true character”; its dining scene of about 300 downtown restaurants; and its new development in and around the city. Our June visit also took us to the Ponce City Market, one of two new food halls in the city, noted for its historic feel and award-winning chefs.

The bureau is also quick to point out the ease of traveling to Atlanta, as 80 percent of the U.S. population is within a two-hour flight.

The talk within NPGA is of looking at Atlanta through new eyes. In the coming months, look for the association to step up its marketing and promotions of Atlanta so the industry can see for itself what the city has to offer. NPGA also hopes to sway attendees from this year’s event who say they’re undecided about attending in 2018.

With so much discussion on the Propane Expo’s host city, the Conventions Committee is finding a need to remind the industry about the overall benefits of attending the event – from learning about new propane products and emerging markets to the educational sessions that keep members current in their trade craft and the networking opportunities. Finding a can’t-miss keynote speaker is always on the agenda – but maybe more so in 2018’s return to Atlanta.

A welcome addition

It’s my pleasure to introduce Clara Richter, our new managing editor, to the propane industry.

Clara comes to us from Michigan, where she was working as a drafting paralegal for a law office in Grand Rapids. She earned her bachelor’s in English literature in 2014 from John Carroll University in the Cleveland suburb of University Heights, Ohio. She wrote and edited for the college newspaper and literary magazine. She also received a Master of Arts in English literature and language last year from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota, and taught English at Winona State.