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New Records At Forest Expo

What a show!
Forest Expo continues to re-define its own success. A record 406 exhibitors and 21,500 attendees were attracted to the show, held in May at Exhibition Park in Prince George, BC. That compares with 317 exhibitors and 18,700 attendees at the 1994 version of the biennial event.

“Everything was better,’’ reports Trudy Swaan, Forest Expo’s general manager. The possible exception was the weather. Snow and cool temperatures on opening day raised eyebrows and buttoned jackets. The weather also delayed the arrival of some participants.

But extensive polling of exhibitors during the show and the first returns of post-Expo questionnaires indicate a high level of satisfaction with the show’s organization and attendance quality, says Swaan. That latter comment means the right people were there to conduct business. The decision-making customer visits the exhibitor, while the other level of of Forest Expo’s trade show dynamic has exhibitors doing business with other exhibitors.

Swaan says first-time exhibitors to what is probably North America’s largest forest industry show were overwhelmed by the level of service that cost them nothing extra. Returnees were happy things haven’t changed. Forest Expo makes items like fork lifts freely available for for booth or display setup. Platoons of volunteers from all spectrums of the

Prince George community tour the grounds to look after exhibitors’ needs and troubleshoot any problems. “What we hear from the exhibitors is,‘You treat us like people, not numbers,’ adds Swaan.

A representative of the US Department of Commerce inspected and observed the show with a view to certifying Forest Expo. If granted, the designation could see establishment of a US pavilion at Forest Expo. A total of 18 US companies headed the show’s expanding international participation component. Prince George’s new Multiplex arena was available to Forest Expo for the first time. It provided additional spaces that were quickly sold and enhanced traffic movement around the grounds. “We’re already getting phone calls for space in the Multiplex for the next show,’’ notes Swaan.

Forest Expo provides the public with a rare view of all sectors of the forest industry. The public education aspect was highlighted by the Resource Awareness Centre. A specially designed, interactive multi-media CD-ROM entitled Forest For Us All tackled the issue of sustainable forest management in an informative and enlightened manner. It allows participants to become directly involved in the dynamics of concensus decision-making. The exhibit proved highly popular and has since taken to the road. “It’s booked solid in schools until the end of June.’’ Then it will go to Mount Robson Provincial Park in the Canadian Rockies where summer visitors can use it to better understand the complexities and responsibilities of forest man-agement. Swaan has been invited to talk about the exhibit at a June gathering of forest industry communicators. Financing for the Resource Awareness Centre comes from Forest Renewal BC, the forest industry and the community of Prince George. Forest Expo ‘98 is May 7 - 9. Book early.

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