When the 27th Annual Northwest Event Show opens at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle on Oct. 16, longtime attendees might notice several new things, such as additional exhibitors and an expanded venue space.
But the biggest change might be much less noticeable to the casual observer: For the first time in its long history, the Northwest Event Show will be produced under new ownership.
In January, Butler Seattle acquired Banquet & Event — its annual resource guidebook — and the Northwest Event Show, the largest trade show for meeting, hospitality, and event-planning professionals in the Pacific Northwest — from Marion Clifton, who is now a member of Butler Seattle’s team and serves as director of the newly formed Butler Events.
“I think the meeting and events industry is ready for some disruption,” said Stuart Butler, a principal at Butler Seattle, during an interview at the company’s Woodinville headquarters. “I think we can be a part of that disruption and be a catalyst and grow this industry — or grow the impact of this industry.”
Since the acquisition, Butler has grown the Northwest Event Show’s full-time workforce from four employees to 15. Among the 300-plus exhibitors this year, nearly 25 percent will be new to the Northwest Event Show, which will cover 115,000 square feet and offer new programs and features, such as:
- Connection Hub — Dedicated space for industry professionals to build relationships, form new partnerships, and network.
- Tech Alley — An area devoted to helping attendees interact and engage with startup companies, giving them a spotlight to showcase their products.
- Education Center — A mix of speakers and interactive experiences offering insights into the latest marketplace trends and activities.
These initiatives align with Butler’s desire to prioritize face-to-face interactions and tighter interconnectedness. This year’s Northwest Event Show theme is “Where Innovators and Influencers Connect.”
“We’re really bringing in more and more people, finding the people of our industry to come in and meet with us face to face,” Butler said. “To me, that’s something we need more of. All of this stuff is helping with the fabric of our community. We have a huge opportunity here to grow and develop our industry by being together.”
Like the Northwest Event Show, Butler Seattle has a long history complete with much change over the years. The company was co-founded by Stuart and his brother, Jeremy, in 1994, and has since expanded from offering services such as valet parking to chauffeurs, wine tours, and other event excursions.
Stuart Butler might be even more ambitious about growing the Northwest Event Show.
“We have a four-year-plan to change this into a four-day expo,” Butler said. “That’s the goal. We’re looking at expanding our reach, not only locally and regionally, but also to a national draw of convention and planners and event professionals to check out the Northwest, the services, and exhibitors (here).”