Ocean City Spring Trade Expo Returns March 3-4

OCEAN CITY — The 45th Annual Ocean City Spring Trade Expo is returning March 3 and 4 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.

Designed to bring hospitality buyers and sellers together for two days of discovery, education and conversation, this event is produced by the non-profit Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA).  The expo has become a regional favorite as the OCHMRA welcomes the return of many loyal exhibitors and showcases new and emerging regional and national companies and products.

Attendees have the opportunity to utilize their senses to see, touch, taste and experience the latest trends in every component of the hospitality business. Filling three exhibit halls, attendees will leave armed with new ingredients, knowledge, equipment and inspiration to successfully run their business. This face-to-face interaction provides a valuable, efficient and cost-effective opportunity to do one-stop shopping and product comparison.

Educational Sessions

In addition to sampling, the expo will spark attendees’ creative appetite for learning by delivering real, applicable business lessons and best practices. The OCHMRA has developed educational sessions to enhance business savvy, boost profits, amplify knowledge and encourage thoughtful discussion. Here is a glimpse into the sessions:

The Delaware Restaurant Association and Worcester County Health Department will be exploring substance abuse in the industry. Recently, the Delaware Restaurant Association launched an online training course for managers to identify and assist employees in battling addictions. Additionally, the Worcester Health Department created Addictions in the Workplace and has a wealth of resources available to employees. These tools and interactive discussion will be the focus of the workshop, “Substance Abuse is Affecting Your Workforce…do you have the Tools to Handle This Growing Problem?” This session will take place on Sunday, March 3 at 11:30 a.m.

The Restaurant Association of Maryland’s legal team will tackle another tough issue that has led to businesses spending thousands of dollars in settlements. Bert Randall, Jr., principal at Franklin & Prokopik, will explore employment laws such as overtime wages, sexual harassment, tip pools and more. This session is designed to help employers navigate all the labor laws. The legal advice will be invaluable and is free. It will be held before the expo opens on Monday at 9 a.m.

Toast Food for Thought division will share “Creating a Brand That Sticks.” The restaurant industry is continuously evolving, and as it does how you market your businesses needs do as well. Very rarely do people just walk into a restaurant any more without googling it or looking at reviews on TripAdvisor/Yelp. In this session, businesses will learn how to build your brand the right way, how to get the word out and how to manage your online reputation to continue to grow your customer base.

TravelClick, an Amadeus company, has designed a session around the lodging attendees. It will explore how hoteliers can maximize revenue and increase bookings. Discover how to acquire the right guests at the right price, convert shoppers into bookers and retain guests to create customers for life, using interconnected business intelligence and data-driven solutions.

Teaming up to deliver a session teaching managers how to improve staff service are Essential System Solutions and Cohn Resnick. “Training your team to provide the best guest experience” is the name of their session where two industry experts will discuss how to use POS tools, detailed sales data and traditional techniques to train your staff to provide the best guest experience.

Join APPI Energy for an educational discussion on the recent change from propane to natural gas in the Ocean City market. In this session, information will be reviewed about the switch and the incentives of natural gas, and how Ocean City businesses can save money on both natural gas and electricity supply costs.

National leader Entercom Communications Corporation will deliver, “Online Advertising – How to Be a Contender.” With digital making up 51.5% of the total ad spend in the country, it’s at an all-time high and is expected to increase year over year for the foreseeable future.

Delmarva Two-Way Radio, Inc. of Ocean City has announced its new “Digital Long Range” Radio System and it will showcase this instant communication during their session.

Todd Collins operates RestaurantReputations.com and he’ll present “Supercharging Your Social Media and Stopping Negative Reviews.” His company provides social media and reputation management strategies to restaurants highlighted on the Food Network, such as Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, Pappas Crab Cakes, Nacho Mama’s and more. Learn how he has helped these brands go viral and reach national brand awareness as well as protecting them from negative customer reviews with their patented strategies.

Paint, Pose & Pour Pavilion

Noting the popularity of providing interactive elements to tradeshows, the OCHMRA has added a new area featuring an abundance of activity. Located on the second level in the Ballroom, Paint, Pose & Pour will allow attendees to experience each of those activities.

TC Studios will provide the paint experience by teaching attendees the elements of painting a food and wine scene. Attendees will paint their own version with guidance from owner Ali Jacobs. Photo Booth OC will offer many different costumes and scenarios for posing and posting at their station. For the pour part, new Wine On Tap Distributor, Tap 26, will partner with the Bubbles & Brews Prosecco and Craft Beer Bar to feature prosecco, wine and beer on a vintage Piaggio Ape. To catch an advance glimpse of this vintage beauty, check out, bubblesbrewbar.com.

Craft Beer Connection

For those restaurateurs who are ready to grow profits and support a local movement,  close to 30 breweries, from throughout Maryland, Delaware, DC and Virginia will be featured in the Dockside Hall. Additionally, one craft beer will be upstairs, Raven Beer, who has teamed up with Madhouse Oysters to create an oyster stout.

Show Specials, New Products

Loyal exhibitor AC Beverage will be unveiling his new Custom Cocktails On Tap, which is a new custom system that allow cocktails to be served on tap.

APPI Energy has launched a new energy efficiency division, offering clients the opportunity to further reduce their energy expenses and carbon footprint with lighting retrofits and LEDs.

The Bank of Delmarva’s West Ocean City branch offers a unique service called CoinPlus. Businesses have the ability to place “orders” for the cash they need, down to specific denominations. They then go to the secured-access CoinPlus Room to retrieve their cash when ready.

Long-time exhibitor Ecolab will be showcasing a new ventless warewashing system. This dishwashing system has an integrated heat recovery system that captures steam to enable ventless operating. It’s high pressure rinse technology reduces water and energy useage by 50%.

Industry veteran Jim Hoffman of Market First will showcase the Reverse Tap, a direct draw beer system that fills the cup from the bottom delivering a 20-ounce beer in seven seconds and provides operator a 97% yield on product

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program will be unveiling a new program promoting source reduction. This is a better way to manage the waste stream and environment. Ocean City Green Team is working on providing tools, information and promotions to encourage and support greener businesses.

Seacrets Distilling is unveiling a new product that promises to please many palettes — bumbleberry bodka. Seven times distilled, made with fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, it is similar to a grape juice/sangria taste with stronger notes of sweet blueberries and blackberries.

The expo is not open to the public. To walk the show floor, you must be a buyer or guest in the industry and you must be 21. Expo hours are Sunday, March 3 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Monday, March 4 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with a VIP Buyer Only hour from 10-11 a.m. After Feb. 28, on-site registration is $15 per person with proof of being in the industry; a business card or license or letter from employer on the company letterhead; paystubs not accepted. For complete expo information, check out www.oceancitytradeexpo.com or call 410-289-6733.