A wide array of transportation professionals -- including operators of private and public shuttle buses, motorcoach fleets, paratransit services and limousine companies -- will head to Cleveland in September for BusCon, the industry's largest expo for private and public operators of small and medium-duty bus fleets.
Last year's BusCon expo, held in Baltimore, was the biggest ever, drawing nearly 2,000 attendees. And BusCon officials say they're expecting another strong showing.
This year's event, the seventh annual presentation of Bobit Publishing, will take place Sept. 9 to 11 at the Cleveland Convention Center. This is the first time BusCon has visited Cleveland, and expectations are high about the abundance of entertainment options in the city.
More importantly, attendees will have the opportunity to examine every shape and size of bus. Last year, more than 70 vehicles were on display, ranging from the most luxurious corporate hospitality motorcoaches to limousine buses to the ever-practical and efficient shuttle bus.
In addition to vehicle displays, the trade show will provide attendees with access to industry suppliers representing a wide variety of products and services: insurance, leasing, seating, wheelchair lifts, financing, air conditioning, engines, transmissions, tires, flooring, lighting, mobile communications and other bus components.
Learn from the pros
In addition to the showcase of products and services (which occupies more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space), BusCon offers an impressive schedule of workshops and presentations designed for the range of transportation professionals who own and/or manage public and private bus fleets.
A cutting-edge series of informational seminars will be presented each day of the conference. Topics will include trends in risk management, driver training strategies, cost-effective maintenance programs, regulatory issues affecting fleet operators and successful marketing practices.
The keynote speaker will be Dale Bunce, president and founder of consulting/marketing firm IMD. Bunce will deliver a state of the industry address that will reveal his prognostications for the coming year as well as simple but effective marketing strategies.
Also scheduled are two roundtable discussions -- one featuring a panel of manufacturers who will discuss the latest innovations in bus procurement, design and construction; the other featuring a panel of public and private bus managers who will share best practices. Each panel will be interactive, focusing on answering questions from the audience.
Also, for the first time, the Airport Ground Transportation Association (AGTA) will be holding its fall meeting in conjunction with BusCon. The AGTA will be running separate seminar tracks specifically targeted to the challenges and trends impacting their market.
In addition to providing a hands-on feel for what's new in the marketplace, a top-notch educational program and an opportunity to network with peers, attendees can explore the hot spots in Cleveland.
The city (population: 500,000) has seen dramatic and dynamic growth in the last decade. Greater Cleveland is a world corporate center for leading national and multinational companies in industries that include transportation, insurance, retailing, commercial banking and finance.
To bolster its image as a destination spot, Cleveland has invested more than $12 billion in the development of world-class attractions.
Among the city's high-profile attractions is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- the home of the world's largest collection of rock-and-roll memorabilia. The attraction, which is a short walk from the convention center, is housed in a spectacular $92 million building.
Through the end of the year, the hall of fame and museum is hosting a fascinating exhibit called "John Lennon: his life and work." It also has a permanent collection with thousands of unusual artifacts from the rock world, including Jim Morrison's cub scout uniform and Doc Pomus' handwritten lyrics to "Save the Last Dance for Me," which were penned on a wedding reception invitation.
There are also endless entertainment options in Cleveland. The historic Warehouse District in downtown Cleveland is a popular destination for live jazz and blues, trendy restaurants and nightclubs. The district was the city's first residential neighborhood in the early 1800s, but was neglected and abandoned after World War II. In the 1980s, historical preservation efforts revived the area, attracting commercial and residential development.
Meanwhile, the Flats area lining the east and west banks of the Cuyahoga River has undergone its own revival. Once the sweat-soaked industrial hub of Cleveland's waterfront area, the Flats have become in recent years a massive entertainment complex, boasting more than 60 restaurants and clubs. It's a conglomeration of drinking, live music and dancing venues.
For more information
BusCon is one of Bobit Publishing's array of conference and trade shows. Along with METRO, this year's expo is sponsored by SCHOOL BUS FLEET, Limousine and Chauffeured Transportation, Automotive Fleet and Auto Rental News. For more information about BusCon, call (800) 576-8788 or visit www.bobitexpos.com.