For decades Las Vegas and the wedding industry have been brought together like cake and rice, and to further cement the relationship the Wedding MBA Convention is coming to the Las Vegas Convention Center for its eighth consecutive year on Oct. 3-5.
“We love having our event at the Las Vegas Convention Center because it gives us flexibility so our attendees can stay all across the Strip and downtown,” said Shannon Underwood, conference director of the Wedding MBA Convention. “We draw so many different types of people, and Las Vegas gives them so much to do at affordable costs.”
Underwood and the Wedding MBA Convention have to keep in mind its growing number of attendees, as it initially started as a convention just for photographers and videographers a dozen years ago. It has transformed into a convention for all aspects of the industry, with over 150 business seminars and will draw an estimated 3,500 attendees this year.
“We are open to wedding professionals from all industries, which includes venues, florists and caterers,” Underwood said. “One of our largest attendee growth areas has been in venues, and they tend to send more people to the convention to identify new vendors. Wedding planners come in large numbers and have more value for our education and certificate programs.”
The Wedding MBA Convention features programming and seminars for venues, planners, DJs, audio-visual professionals, photographers and videographers. Seminars include: venue pricing, best practices from wedding producers, rehearsal dinners, cake prices and using social media for photographers.
For caterers, a seminar is scheduled to discuss necessary wording in menu descriptions, best practices in spelling of popular menu items and a course about using organic food. For the floral industry the emerging “farm-to-vase” fresh flower trend will be covered.
Additional business operation seminars will be held, from identifying the best prospective employees to time management of prospective clients. A quiz game show format will be set up for participants to learn how to handle common sales rejections and an ‘Ask an Expert’ series of seminars will be featured for onsite advice and insight for real situations. Experts include professionals from the conflict resolution, hotel, legal, social media and technology industries.
“We are trying to be more interactive this year,” Underwood said. “We want our attendees to walk away with new strategies from our experts and interaction with their peers. The demographics and necessities of our attendees are changing, so we have to continue to develop content and programming that fits their needs.
The Wedding MBA Convention even offers a behind-the-scenes seminar for first-time attendees. The convention also has a strong emphasis on sharing the latest industry trends within the industry, creating a level of resourcefulness that has become the foundation for its growth.
This year’s convention will cover several trends: the decline in hard copy wedding invitations, the decline in videographers due to social media and smartphones and even the decline in ministers.
“On a local level, ministers tend to be underpaid, so you have fewer younger adults going into it, which causes a pent-up demand for the service,” Underwood said.
The controversial trend of buying replica wedding dresses from overseas countries in Asia will also be addressed. Some domestic wedding dress designers have even gone as far as hanging a replica wedding dress next to an original brand so future brides can see the difference.
More common professional trends like technology is also part of the convention programming.
“We are addressing many social media trends like how photographers and vendors can drive traffic to their Instagram website or the best search engine optimization techniques for their website.”
Online marketing will be a theme in several seminars and expert panel discussions, but Underwood emphasizes that high-touch and human contact is still required for success in such a personal industry. The availability of technological resources has increased the personalization requests for weddings, so wedding professionals have more specific requests to fulfill than a generation ago.