OCEAN CITY – More than 400 exhibits catering to the hospitality industry will overtake the Ocean City Convention Center next Sunday and Monday for the 43rd Annual Ocean City Spring Trade Expo.
Susan Jones, executive director for the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA), said new and returning vendors will introduce industry members to new products, cuisine and information and will connect hospitality buyers and sellers.
Exhibitors will have a chance to share products – digital menu boards, spices, alcoholic beverages and the like – establish connections, and offer special sales without leaving the building.
“It has really shaped up to be a fantastic show with new products, in addition to our tried and true exhibitors,” she said.
In addition to the 406 food, drink and product exhibits, this year’s Spring Trade Expo will host five workshops and keynote speaker Bob Brown, who will give presentations to attendees both Sunday and Monday. Brown will teach owners, managers and supervisors tips on dining sales success and customer satisfaction.
Jones said Brown is a leading expert in the hospitality field and has consulting and training experience with Disney, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and more.
“He is really an amazing guy,” she said. “He definitely knows the hospitality industry.”
In addition to these workshops, owners Tony Lanuza and Chris Poeschl of the Brooklyn Baking Barons will be at the Culinary Showcase Stage throughout the event, according to Jones. She said the duo, famous for their Honey Whiskey Cake, will offer more than just sweets and will give six live cooking demonstrations for appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Jones added that members of Ocean 98 will also be on hand, where they will host a restaurant-style Family Feud, based on the popular television game show.
The Spring Trade Expo runs March 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and March 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is only open to members of the hospitality industry – hotel, motel and restaurant, catering, concessions, bed and breakfast, condo/property management, campground, coffee house, ice cream store, nightclub, liquor store, convenience store, cafeteria, nursing home, schools/colleges, hospital and the like – who are 21 years of age or older.
Jones said attendees can preregister for free online through March 1 or register on site for $15. Individuals can present business cards, licenses and letters from employers on letterhead to partake in the event. Pay stubs are no longer allowed as proof.
The OCHMRA has hosted the annual event since 1974 in an effort to accommodate members of the local hospitality industry who didn’t want to travel to Baltimore for trade expos.
Since that time, the Spring Trade Expo has grown to hundreds of exhibitors, 5,000 annual attendees and 60 OCHMRA volunteers.
“It’s really awesome to see it all come together because it takes a lot of planning,” Jones said. “It definitely takes a village to do this.”
A list of vendors and times are available at www.oceancitytradeexpo.com. For more information, visit the website or call 410-289-6733.