Ocean City Today

Spring Trade Expo returns to resort

Industry members invited to browse new products, services, cooking demos
By Kara Hallissey | Mar 01, 2018

(March 2, 2018) Kicking of the season for industry members, the 44th annual Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s Spring Trade Expo returns to the 41st Street convention center this Sunday and Monday with 320 companies filling up 406 booths and all three exhibit halls.

“It is an awesome opportunity for hospitality buyers and sellers to get together once a year at our trade show,” said Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones, event organizer. “It’s like a coming out of hibernation party for our industry and gets everyone thinking about what they need to do to get ready for the summer.”

Only industry representatives are permitted to attend the show, which will feature culinary demonstrations including season-seven Master Chef winner Shaun O’Neale, as well as educational workshops on a range of topics.

O’Neale takes the culinary showcase stage at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday for a cooking demonstration, in addition to a meet and greet and cookbook signing.

Also appearing will be Sysco Eastern Maryland Chef Candace Hilger, who will be creating craft beer inspired dishes on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

Jones said a “Meet the Makers” event on Monday at 11:30 a.m. would include a brewer and vodka distiller, as well as the creator of a bloody mary mix.

Following shortly after at 1 p.m., Ocean 98 will host a musical bingo game where participants compete for gift cards and overnight stays on the culinary showcase stage. Local Executive Chef Paul Suplee will take the stage on Monday at 2:30 p.m.

Close to 30 breweries from Maryland and lower Delaware will be in the Dockside Hall and a local barista will create latte art at the Eastern Shore Coffee and Water booth on both days of the expo.

Jones encouraged attendees to attend a presentation on paid sick leave compliance, Monday at 10 a.m. in room 208, before the doors open for the trade show.

“A Baltimore law firm will talk about the ins and outs and put the new law in layman’s terms,” Jones said. “The digital data presentation is pretty cool, where John Gehrig will talk about repeat business customers and how to drive direct bookings [Monday at 11:30 a.m.]”

There are also a number of other seminars to choose from this year, including how to handle negative reviews and managing online reputations, maximizing marketing dollars, protecting the environment and generating repeat guests through technology. For a complete list of seminar times and topics, visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com/schedule-of-events.

As always, suppliers will introduce new products to prospective buyers at the show, which includes Summer J. Artisan Ice Pops, out of Milton, Delaware this year. The all-natural, gourmet ice pops have real fruit and no refined sugar, preservatives or artificial flavors. A family member diagnosed with cancer inspired the certified vegan, gluten and dairy-free ice pops.

“A really neat product by Picklehead protects fingers when cutting and was invented by a kid whose dad used to be a chef at the Clarion,” Jones added.

In addition, more than 50 other businesses will have new products and specials at the show. To see a complete list, visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com/new-products-show-specials.

The Spring Trade Expo started 44 years ago when Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association past president and member Paul Wall, of Phillips Seafood Restaurants, thought an expo in Ocean City was needed. The closest comparable event at the time was located in Baltimore.

“He developed the show with the help of the Restaurant Association of Maryland,” Jones said. “They had a show in Baltimore and he thought, ‘I should have one in Ocean City to generate business in town.’”

Since then, the show has become a major business and social event for the regional hospitality industry.

“We have close to 5,000 people preregistered,” Jones said. “A lot of repeats locally and from Baltimore and Delaware. It used to just be Ocean City people, but it has expanded into a regional show. It is the 44th annual show and we are excited.”

The expo runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.

Registration costs $15 at the door and attendees must bring their business cards, business license or a letter from their employer on letterhead to prove they are part of the industry. Pay stubs are no longer accepted as proof and you must be 21 years old or older.

Workers from hotels, motels, restaurants, catering companies, concessions operations, bed and breakfasts, property management companies, campgrounds, coffee houses, bakeries, ice cream shops, nightclubs, breweries, liquor stores, convenience stores, cafeterias, nursing homes, schools and colleges or hospitals are welcome.

Visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com for more information, including a floor plan and schedule of seminars and other events or call 410-289-6733.

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