LightFair Preview with Show Director Dan Darby

LDS Lightfair 22 400

May 25, 2022

By Blake Marchand

The last LightFair show was held in October 2021 after being postponed due to COVID complications, this year’s instalment marks its return to the west coast taking place in Las Vegas from June 19-23. We spoke with Executive Director, Dan Darby to gain more insight into the upcoming event.  “Momentum has been strong,” said Darby after the October 2021 show, 90% of the vendors signed on for 2022 in Vegas. “We really had a great show there and we’re looking forward to continuing that momentum of having an opportunity to bring the industry together.”

Darby said the pandemic has had an impact on how they present the show. The importance of time for the attendees has become a priority, attendees are looking for an efficient show experience. Which means tools so they can plan their event experience economically, to make the most of their experience.

“This particular show, we’re helping attendees manage that by rolling out a new appointment schedule function, it really easy, simple to use,” said Darby.

In the online exhibitor directory, attendees will find company and product descriptions, press releases, product videos, as well as a portal to schedule an appoint during the three days of the show. And the exhibitor automatically gets an email that the appointment has been set.

“The other thing we learned is how important an overall show experience is now to attendees.”

If they are going to take time out to attend a show, particularly one like LightFair that may require travel and accommodations, people want more than to just walk around a show floor visiting booth.

“One of the things we introduced in October, in New York, was on-floor education. We still have our five-day institute that takes place off the show floor, but we also put these on-floor education opportunities.”

In the New York show they introduced a ‘Designery’, which covers topics specific to design culture. The Design Pavilion tour takes place on the Wednesday, the second day of the show at 11:30am. The tour is led by Dawn Hollingsworth, Principle with Darkhorse Lightworks. The tour showcases domestic and international ‘high-style’.

The Outdoor Pavilion tour is led by Benjamin Basom of Windward Lighting Studio. The Smart Pavillion tour is led by Daniel Blitzer of The Practical Lighting Workshop. The New Attendee Orientation and Tour is led by Carla Bukalski from Current and Lisa Reed of Envision Lighting Design. Go HERE for the full tour schedule.

“The sessions and tech talks in the outdoor exchange will be smaller, more intimate settings,” Darby said. Every session will end with 20-minutes of discussion and brainstorming amongst the group, “so we are really looking forward to seeing how that works.”

When it comes to more formal educational components, there are three design tracks within the 5-day conference: “Design Guidance and Tools”, which discusses energy and building codes and design metrics’ “Evidence Based Design”, focusing on techniques used to achieve specific design goals; “The Art of Lighting”, looks more at the inspiration side of lighting design.

In total there are 24 deign courses within the three tracks.

Sustainability is big theme in this year’s show.

The show floor features 300 exhibitors, which is lower than previous shows. But Darby said that was be design.

“Back in 2019 after the show, we took a really hard look at some of the manufacturers that were exhibiting, and we decided they were really not up to the caliber of exhibitors that we wanted to have at LightFair,” Darby said, this time around they disallowed around 60 OEMs from exhibiting.

With respect to attendance Darby said they are expecting 10,000 people to come through, “10,000 attendees over a three-day period is going to be a healthy and robust marketplace.”

The show features 13 Canadian companies, including first time exhibitor, Omnify Lighting. Darby said that’s one company they are excited to add.

When it comes to trends, Darby said, “Control, controls, controls.”

The New York show required masks and vaccination status for all attendees/exhibitors, this time around in Las Vegas that will not be a requirement. Although Darby noted the venue is a GBAC certified facility, meaning they meet a global standard for cleaning and disinfection.

Ultimately, Darby said, “We’re not unlike any manufacturer who spent time over the pandemic looking at our product and seeing what we could refine. Our show is our product, and so we are looking at ways we can continue to inspire and surprise attendees. The on-floor educations is one of the things we’re doing this year, next year in New York we have some more things planned already, just of accomplish that element of discovery people want to have at a show.”

Darby also noted that the show in June marks the first large LightFair event since the pandemic began, “in that time, companies have changed, people have changed positions, changed their rolls, and LightFair is that opportunity to meet with the industry and continue to strengthen these professional relationships that people have.”

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