Vision Expo East has wrapped up its 32nd year amid a lively celebration with more than 190 new of the 715 total exhibitors, an attendance increase in multiple key audience categories – including buyers, optometrists, opticians and contact lens technicians – and successful new events across all four days.
Buying activity was reported as strong as the quality of attendees, with the Show boasting the attendance of over 300 new and 1,200 total OPTImum program members this year—a group that represents key decision-makers/buyers, lab owners and top-level management for $1M OD Practices.
Vision Expo East 2018 saw a 22% increase in Opticians and Contact Lens Technicians, on hand for the new OptiCon @ Vision Expo programming including a full lineup of Pop Up Talks, celebrity appearances, and social events in the debut OptiCon @ Vision Expo Hub, as well as a new slate of education sessions designed for these audiences.
“The OptiCon integration is the best thing to happen in 30 years!” said Deborah Roberts, Optician, Hauppauge Vision Center. “I love the system and the concept. The early morning general session was very interesting. I love the history and the recognition of the people who came before, and I would love to see more of it.”
Of the estimated 715 companies filling the bustling Exhibit Hall with the launch of new designs and product lines, 27%—192 exhibitors—are new to the Show this year. Additionally, an expanded and sold-out New Designer Gallery—now in its second year—presented exhibiting designers with the opportunity to distinguish themselves in a fresh environment.
“We attend Vision Expo due to its global status in the eyewear industry—it’s important for us to have a presence at the Show, and gives us the opportunity to showcase the craftsmanship of our product and strength of our portfolio,” said Henri Blomqvist, CEO, Safilo North America. “Vision Expo provides us with the opportunity to meet all industry stakeholders in one place.”
The Show debuted the new OPTImum Retail Award, a program celebrating independent boutique retailers by showcasing their products, storefronts, visions and most importantly—their stories. The winning retailer, Todd Rogers Eyewear, was selected by a panel of esteemed industry judges including James Spina, 20/20 Magazine Editor in Chief and Senior VP; Christian Roth, Designer and Co-Founder of CHRISTIAN ROTH Eyewear; and Arian Fartash, OD and Instagram social influencer, @glamoptometrist.
“As a small U.S.-based independent Eyewear brand, Vision Expo is our largest opportunity to spread our message to the masses,” said Todd Rogers, Designer & Founder, Todd Rogers Eyewear. “Now in our 9th consecutive year exhibiting at Vision Expo East in NYC, we are thrilled to still call it our Big Apple headquarters.”
“I go to Vision Expo East and West every year. I love the Show, the people, and the products. It’s great to see all the latest frames—and all the vendors—all at once,” said Elida Villarreal, Optician, Eyecare Associates of Texas. “Even though I’ve been coming for over 15 years, there is always something new and different at Vision Expo.”
For the first time at Vision Expo East, attendees voted for their favorite exhibitors in two categories. The winner in the category of “Most Creative Booth Design” was De Rigo REM. The winner in the category of “Best Use of Technology” was Kuusoft Corporation.
Outside of the Exhibit Hall, the optical industry was fully engaged with the Show via social media, with 5.36 million impressions from the Show’s accounts and many more interacting with attendees and exhibitors directly. Adding another 70,000 social impressions was Vision Expo’s partnership with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) for a panel, Eye on Design: An Exclusive Talk with Influential Eyewear Designers, featuring leading creative visionaries in the eyewear industry. The panel was livestreamed from the Exhibit Hall by WWD, with the session performing 85% better than the average WWD presentation.
A special Vision Expo session, Private Equity Takes Root – What Does It Mean for Optometry? drew an overflow crowd of 345 attendees from across the optical industry, including prominent ODs, ECPs, optical retail and supplier executives. The program, presented in cooperation with Review of Optometric Business, Vision Expo and Vision Monday, explored the decisions many ECPs are weighing today—whether or not to sell their practice to a private equity investment group or management platform.
“Vision Expo continues to attract and educate more eyecare professionals than any other industry meeting, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage the thousands of professionals who register for our education programming,” said Mitch Barkley, Vice President of Trade Shows and Meetings at The Vision Council. “This year we featured new topics like the Ocular Aesthetics Track, Attract and Retain Customers series and Supporting the Practice Experience sessions. We’re honored that industry professionals choose Vision Expo as the source for the continuing education they need, and will continue to evolve our programming to meet those needs.”
As Vision Expo East 2018 came to a close, Trade Show News Network (TSNN) announced that the Show has been once again named to their list of Top Trade Shows in the United States for 2017. Up two spots from 2016 to #76, Vision Expo East competed with a wide range of industries to make the list, including gift and home furnishings markets, aircraft, retail, commercial real estate, construction equipment and automotive special products. A complete list of TSNN’s top 250 trade shows can be found at www.tsnn.com/toplists-us.