Expo Grown To One-Stop Shop For Hospitality Industry

OCEAN CITY – The 38th Annual Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) Spring Trade Expo returns next weekend as the hospitality industry prepares to reconnect for the busy summer season

The Spring Trade Expo will be held at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on March 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and March 5, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

According to the OCHMRA, the trade show has been designed exclusively for the hospitality industry. This year there will be more than 400 exhibit booths that will feature the latest, most innovative goods and services on the market. 
The show is made up of hotel, motel, bed and breakfast owners and managers, campgrounds, restaurant owners and managers and catering companies as well as hospital, school cafeteria and nursing home purchasing agents. Attendees will experience "all under one roof" shopping for their establishment. Organizers pay close attention to ensuring this is an exceptionally easy-to-navigate expo.
In the early 1970’s, Paul Wall of Phillips Seafood Restaurants was involved with the Baltimore Restaurant Association and suggested creating Ocean City’s own trade show. The Baltimore Restaurant Association operated a successful trade show and with the help of the association’s secretary, Tish Carter, OCHMRA’s own show began. Since then, the OCHMRA Spring Trade Show has become a major resource for the latest goods and services for the hospitality industry.

“The reason why they wanted to do the show and the reason why we still have the show is to fund our non-profit association, and if the show wasn’t successful we wouldn’t exist,” OCHMRA Executive Director Susan Jones said as she explained the trade show provides about 65 percent of the association’s operating budget.

Jones furthered that the trade show offers a venue for hospitality buyers and vendors to “come out of hibernation” and connect after the winter blues.

“It is a very social atmosphere where everybody likes to reconnect with each other,” she said. “The easiest way to describe is where hospitality buyers and sellers meet, and that is what we continue to coin it … it is basically bringing together the industry so that the suppliers can show off the latest goods and services and then the buyers … can see what is out on the market and what they can bring to their businesses.”

This year’s educational sessions will bring in some top notch chefs including Chef Chad Wells of Alewife Restaurant in Baltimore, local Chef Travis Wright of the The Shark, Chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, as well as local fisherman John Martin.

OCHMRA has partnered with the Restaurant Association of Maryland who designed “Friends, Followers & Fans-The Art of Attraction”, which will be held Sunday and Monday at 1 p.m.

Jason Cohen, owner of RockIt Digital, will have a session focused on social media as a “numbers game” and will teach attendees how to employ best practices to generate and engage an audience. RockIt Digital Marketing is a marketing agency specializing in building customized social media and mobile marketing strategies for the restaurant industry.

Also, on Sunday at 3 p.m. and Monday at 11:30 a.m., "The Economics of Wind & Solar Power" will be held where Finn McCabe of Flexara and Daniel Steelman of FLS Energy will explore wind and solar power for the hospitality industry. Learn how solar technology works and how you can reduce your energy costs starting on day one.

“It is very important to us as an industry to make sure we keep our members on the cutting edge of what is out there,” Jones said as she shared come exciting new products that vendors will be featuring this year.

For example, on hand will be Shark Attack Margaritas, which is a margarita that is packaged in a single-serving 100ml tube that is capable of being frozen. Also Scott Folkins, a Salisbury University graduate, returns to Maryland to launch Caribbean Wave Premium Island Cocktails. The cocktails are ready to drink and packed in an innovative 1.75 Liter pouch, and each pouch makes 10, six-ounce cocktails.

Exhibitors will also be offering specials. For instance, Advanced Electronic Manufacturing will have a Mint Sleep Stage Alarm Clock on special that if purchased at the show a buyer can receive 12 clocks at the price of 10.

“It’s an alarm clock that when you set it with all your criteria when you go to sleep, like your weight and height, it won’t sound off until you are through your REM sleep,” Jones explained.

The OCHMRA Spring Trade Expo is open to anybody in the hospitality industry. Exhibitors and attendees must be 21 years old.  For all the details and to register to attend for free, register online by Feb. 24 at www.oceancitytradeexpo.com.   After, Feb. 24, on-site registrations are available for $10 per person with proof of being in the industry.  

For more information call 800-626-2326, ext. 2.