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IHMRS: The Show Must Go On

Trade show organizers take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth opening to the annual event scheduled to run Nov. 10-13 and offer complimentary registration to FE&S readers.

Despite widespread regional destruction and devastation due to Hurricane Sandy, organizers of the International Hotel Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS) report the annual trade show will open as scheduled on Nov. 10 in New York City's Javits Center.

"All the areas in Javits are available to us and we will be ready to go this weekend," said Philip Robinson, IHMRS show director, in a phone interview with FE&S. "There were some areas that had some flooding but they remediated those areas. Plus, those were not areas in Javits that we use. They also have shows taking place in Javits in that area before our event opens."

Despite the fact that the Javits Center weathered the storm relatively well, show organizers continue to face a number of challenges in getting the event ready to open on time. "A lot of our challenges are for our company, with people in storm impacted areas and shipping," Robinson said. "We've spent time with people trying to find their goods and making sure they get here on time. So those are the major challenges from a show logistics perspective."

To encourage attendance among foodservice operators adversely impacted by the storm, the IHMRS show floor will feature special resource centers to help address their specific needs, Robinson said. These resource centers will help restaurant operators impacted by the storm identify what they need, ranging from filing claims to sourcing specific items they need to replace to securing temporary items to keep their business going. IHMRS is working to secure participation from the state agencies representing New York and New Jersey and other relevant government agencies. "These resource centers, as companies get back on their feet, can really help move them along," he added.

Naturally, when a storm of this size and scope happens just days before a show like IHMRS, attendees and exhibitors are likely to wonder whether the event was in jeopardy of being cancelled. "Our entire constituency, visitors and exhibitors, reached out to us and the greatest concern was is the facility available and can we get there," Robinson said.

So the IHMRS staff has taken a number of steps to assure all constituents that the event will go on as planned. "Within the attendee promotion program, we have deployed email campaigns and robo calls focusing on the status of the city, show and the facility. We have reached out to various industry associations and other partners to help communicate this information," Robinson said.

For those traveling from outside of the New York City area to the show, Robinson has some pretty simple advice. "Follow your normal travel procedures. Everything will require a higher degree of patience. You may wait a couple minutes more for a cab at the airport but things should be ok," he said. "The biggest challenge with the hotels was south of 34th street, where we did not have our block. But those are coming back online and some of the other pressure is being alleviated."

In addition, cabs and the show's shuttle buses were not impacted, Robinson said. Anticipating that a larger number of people than normal might use public transportation to get to the Javits Center, IHMRS has added some shuttles that will take people to and from Grand Central and Penn Stations. Also, IHMRS is coordinating with exhibitors to offer park and ride services for those attendees coming from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Information about these and other transportation issues are available via the show's website:

"Manhattan is pretty much back to normal. Other parts, like Staten Island, continue to be without power and have other problems," Robinson said. "You look at Midtown Manhattan and you would never know anything happened."

To help make attendees' onsite experience more efficient and smooth, IHMRS encourages advance registration. And FE&S readers can add the code "FES2012" to gain complimentary admission to the show floor.

"We had a lot of exciting things in the foodservice area happening before the excitement of the storm kicked in," Robinson noted. "We have a new relationship with FCSI in the form of its Ask the Experts pavilion and that is still going full bore. And we have extended the Foodservice Pioneering Concepts to an 800-square-foot area on the show floor that showcase ways to save energy, space and labor, while enhancing the aesthetics of a foodservice retail venue for a more positive customer experience. We put this together with some consultants and distributors. So there's a lot for the foodservice community that would have made the show exciting even without the excitement of the past week."