2011 Halloween & Party Expo Balances Education and Entertainment

Over the past few months, aNb Media has been speaking with manufacturers from the Halloween industry. The December issue of Toys & Family Entertainment included an analysis on the three major Halloween-related trade shows in the U.S. The largest of the three shows—Halloween & Party Expo—was held in January in Houston and feedback from the show has been positive.

The 2011 Halloween & Party Expo was larger than the 2010 show, with an expanded show floor that offered booth space to more than 75 additional companies. It featured more than 6,800 buyers meeting with 350 exhibiting companies.

As this show grows and evolves, the focus is on offering attendees education and entertainment. On the educational side, January’s show featured a keynote address by author and business coach Bob Negen that focused on teaching retailers how to ensure customers leave their store raving about their experience. The show also featured a range of educational sessions with subjects ranging from increasing sales with sexy costumes and couple’s costumes to how to capitalize on party décor.

With all of the educational offerings, show organizers didn’t forget to include the healthy dose of fun that this industry commands. Following Negen’s keynote, Rubie’s Costume Company held a costume show on the show floor. And at the end of the opening day, more than 30 vendors participated in the Halloween Costume Style Show. Additionally, the show floor featured an aerial artist, juggler, stilt walker, and costume models to add to the entertaining atmosphere throughout the show.

The fun mood, educational offerings, and international presence (this year’s show had more than 450 international attendees) helped make the Halloween & Party Expo the largest of the three U.S. Halloween trade shows. Its timing in the accelerated Halloween sales timeline also plays a role in its success.

“The Halloween & Party Expo really is THE show for the Halloween industry,” says Gary Schneider, general manager of licensing and marketing at Rasta Imposta. “It falls in the right spot on the calendar and it provides the industry with an opportunity to garner PR while making sure the mom and pop retailers are taken care of.”

While the show is predominantly focused on the specialty market, mass-market buyers do attend and benefit from the show’s open-booth layout.

“Walking the aisles, you get a good sense of the look, feel, and trends of the Halloween industry for the year,” says Stephen Stanley, president of Disguise.

The 2012 Halloween & Party Expo will be held in Houston from January 28–31.