(Feb. 28, 2014) The Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s Spring Trade Expo is returning for its 40th year, filling the 40th Street convention center with exhibits from 270 hospitality industry companies March 9-10.
The show is for industry workers only and will feature everything from food demonstrations and alcohol samples to digital menu boards, furnishings and online travel management companies. It will fill the convention center’s three halls and is a chance for those in the industry to network, Executive Director of the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Susan Jones said.
“Really, you can find anything you need to operate a hospitality business,” she said. “We’ve got quite a few things going on.”
There will be product demonstrations at the show, including a cooking demo by Chef Terry French, who won the second season of Food Network’s Extreme Chef and has earned the title “Rebel Chef” for his unusual take on food.
French will take the Red, White & Brew Stage in the new Dockside Hall at 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, preparing pear- and rum-glazed fillets with roasted macadamia nuts while talking about his cooking and travels. There will be a meet and great after the demonstration.
Another Food Network star, Chef and Sugar Artist Steve Weiss will offer demonstrations starting at 11 a.m. Sunday and 12 p.m. Monday in the second floor ballroom. Weiss’ specialty is his sugar work, which takes about two hours from the time he melts the sugar to the completion of molding it into artistic pieces.
There will be a slew of educational seminars at this year’s expo, including Hospitality and Foodservice Consultant Nick Mautone’s talks, “Creating an Integrated, Effective & Profitable Beverage Program” and “10 Tips to Enhance the Hospitality Experience.”
Other sessions include maximizing online presence through TripAdvisor, driving hotel and motel bookings online, using mobile marketing to bring customers to restaurants and more. Visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com/ocmd-trade-show-schedule for a full list of seminar times and topics.
Attendees can also sample local craft beer, wine and spirits during the expo with Fin City, Burley Oak and Evolution brewing companies and St. Michaels Winery present, among others.
The Spring Trade Expo started 40 years ago when Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association member Paul Wall, of Phillips Seafood Restaurants, suggested bringing an expo to this side of the bay bridge. At the time, the closest comparable event was in Baltimore.
The expo has grown from 26 booths that first year to around 270 companies represented at 400 exhibition stations.
The 11 original exhibitors still showing will have specials signs and balloons to recognize them in honor of the show’s 40th anniversary, Jones said. Those companies are Federal Paper & Chemical; Holt Food, Paper & Chemical; SYSCO of Eastern Maryland; Lehan Distributors; Pepsi Cola Bottling Ventures; the Restaurant Association of Maryland; Acme Paper & Supply; Coca-Cola Refreshments; and H&M Wagner & Sons.
Last year, about 4,500 attended the Spring Trade Expo. With more than 4,000 pre-registered on Monday, Jones expects even more this year.
“We’ve really become a regional show,” she said. “I have seen an increase in registrations from across the bridge,” especially since the Baltimore show shut down several years ago.
The Spring Trade Expo runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 9, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, March 10.
Registration costs $15 at the door and attendees must bring their business card or pay stub to prove they’re part of the industry. Workers from hotels, motels, restaurants, catering companies, concessions operations, bed & breakfasts, property management companies, campgrounds, coffee houses, ice cream shops, nightclubs, liquor stores, convenience stores, cafeterias, nursing homes, schools and colleges or hospitals are welcome.
Visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com for more information, including a floor plan and schedule of seminars and other events.