By Nicky Fambios
The 27th annual International Vision Expo & Conference East (VEE) held in March reached a new high in attendance levels, shattering old records and attracting over 23,500 people to the JacobJavitsCenter in New York City.
Tom Loughran, group vice president from Reed Exhibitions, attributes the conference’s success to recognition of Vision Expo as the complete eyecare event by eyecare professionals (ECPs) and industry leaders globally.
“2014 once again proved that ECPs appreciate the wide-ranging and integrated opportunities available only at Vision Expo,” explained Loughran. “They see the value of arriving early to take advantage of timely continuing education content and then apply that knowledge through hands-on experiences and demonstrations within the exhibit hall.”
The five-day continuing education program was comprised of a plethora of seminars – the majority offering accreditation from a variety of organizations including the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE). They covered everything from clinical topics to optical technology, business solutions, allied health and contact lenses.
Exhibitors also picked up on this thirst for knowledge. Briot/Weco created an education centre and hosted a series of workshops on practice building through technology. ClearVision Optical encouraged ECPs to learn about eyewear personalization options through the use of 3D printers and colour “dipping” activities.
Luxottica opted for a completely experiential concept, showcasing a newly designed, multi-level booth created to start an industry-wide conversation about the Excellence of Product, The Power of Storytelling, and The Art of Retailing.
Indeed, change took centre stage throughout the show. “This is an industry on the verge of breaking through in innovation on every level,” added Graeme MacKenzie, director of Industry Affairs, Adlens LTD. “Whether it’s frames, lenses or communicating with customers, there’s real excitement in the industry.”
Throw in some incredible milestones and celebrations and that excitement becomes palpable!
Tura capped off their 75th anniversary with the grand opening of a new design studio and showroom in the heart of Manhattan. Industry professionals gathered at the Marchon showroom to witness as the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) honoured Sherrie Rogerson as its 2014 Pleiades award recipient during the annual event. Optometric Services Inc. (OSI) members enjoyed an enchanting view from the Novatel Hotel’s Supernova rooftop terrace during the OSI “Time After Time” cocktail party. And Sàfilo not only celebrated its landmark 80-year anniversary but also the launch of the Bobbi Brown, Fendi and Jack Spade collections with a reception at their showroom.
It’s no wonder VEE participation rose by more than six per cent! And plans are already underway for improvements to enhance the visitors’ experience for 2015 and beyond. Show organizers have met with optometric associations, representatives from optician organizations and affiliate partners to evaluate educational needs and opportunities.
Several exhibitors are also planning ahead. Paul Storace, president and CEO of Alternative and Plan “B” Eyewear, admits that there is always room for improvement: “While we had a very successful show at Vision Expo East this year, we have committed to a bigger space in the same location next year so as to better accommodate our show visitors.” Storace goes on, “We are continually getting better and promise to have room for all customers and their needs next year.”
The next International Vision Expo & Conference East is scheduled for March 19 – 22, 2015.