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Doug Miller: Future of Halloween & Party Expo

Doug Miller of Urban Expositions, with images from the 2014 Halloween & Party Expo.
Doug Miller of Urban Expositions, with images from the 2014 Halloween & Party Expo.

(Filed Under wholesale Costume News). Last November the Halloween Industry Association (HIA) and Urban Expositions announced they were acquiring the Halloween & Party Expo and would take over the event immediately following the 2015 edition. According to the partners, “Urban Expositions will be responsible for managing all aspects of the event including sales, operations, marketing and promotion with guidance and expertise provided by the Halloween Industry Association.”

BODY associate publisher interviewed Doug Miller, president and partner of Urban Expositions about future plans for the show.

VAYOS: Why did you take on the challenge of this show, and how does it fit with the other successful shows that you produce?

MILLER: Halloween is a growing industry and the Halloween & Party Expo has been a successful event for a number of years. We saw the opportunity to continue to build upon the success the Erwin’s (former owners) had and also the opportunity for a strategic partnership with the Halloween Industry Association (HIA) as a successful combination for Urban Expositions. We’re very excited with our new partnership with the HIA. It’s the first time the association has been involved in joint decision making on a regular basis; we are confident this will continue to strengthen the event. Urban Exposition currently runs very successful gift and souvenir shows throughout the country and many of our customers cross over into the Halloween industry. These clients are delighted to hear about this new opportunity for their business. On a more personal level, I have passion for Halloween, my favorite holiday of the year.

VAYOS: Tell us more about your work with the Halloween industry.

MILLER: When I was part of the Atlanta Mart early in my career we launched a Halloween event. Over the years in the gift and souvenir industry at Urban, we see that many of our current customers (both exhibitors and buyers) carry a significant amount of Halloween merchandise.

VAYOS: Have you assigned personnel at Urban to the Halloween Expo yet? And if so, who are the key people working on this show, what are their titles and what is their contact info.

MILLER: Yes, we have a full team in place that comes with exceptional experience in the event and retail industry. Key contacts in the team are:

Joan Ulrich, VP of marketing and specialty shows - 678-370-0337,

Mike Carlucci, show director - 203-423-0015,

Michael Weiner, sales & business development manager - 203.242.8712,

VAYOS: Is there an “Urban Philosophy” of how to run a show that you can share with our readers in the costume industry? In general terms, can you explain what your unique approach means to the Halloween show going forward?

MILLER: Yes, we take a hands on approach from the top down in our organization. We focus on building and strengthening relationships with our associations, attendees, exhibitors, and media partners because it’s important to us to be part of the industries with whom we are working. We do this by listening to issues at hand, understanding industry dynamics or shifts, and continually speaking with our customers. Additionally we value and respect the expertise of the many industry associations we work with. Overall, this enables us to not only to deliver today but to also anticipate what’s next, staying ahead of the curve to meet future needs.

VAYOS: What changes do you envision for the show going forward in 2016? Do you have any plans yet for changes in layout, structure, etc.

MILLER: The event today is very strong, thanks to the Erwins and the strong industry support. As we go forward, we’ll build on this success by continuing to attract new complementary product categories within the show and also to invest in resources to build the attendance. We’re excited at the opportunity to build a more diverse audience base. We will do this by providing additional opportunities for our retail audiences from our other events, building relationships with industry associations, and by growing our international footprint. Our team will be at the 2015 event and we will be evaluating the show for further operational opportunities.

VAYOS: Because of the leap year in 2016, Halloween will fall on a Monday. There are some in the industry that are worried about a “fall off” in traffic and sales of Halloween merchandise as a result. Halloween in 2015 falls on a Saturday, as you know. How big a threat (and how big a change) is this for business in 2016?

MILLER: We’re working with the HIA to maximize the opportunities at the show and believe that the additional areas of focus will help us continue to foster growth for our customers no matter when Halloween falls.

VAYOS: As you know, the “primary” Halloween show was successful in Chicago for many years. Then it moved to Las Vegas for one show and the management shifted. The Erwin’s took on the challenge and mounted the primary show in Houston. Then it moved to New Orleans. Now you have taken it over.

MILLER: All industries evolve over time, and Halloween is not unique. The Erwins took back control and worked hand-in-hand to stabilize and grow the event to what it is today. Feedback on the move to New Orleans indicates that the move has been well received – pre-registration numbers are tracking ahead of where they have been and we’re excited to see the end results in a few weeks. We are committed to New Orleans for three years. Our goal is to continue to grow existing categories and to bring in diverse yet complementary categories to the show floor. From an attendance perspective, we will focus both domestically and internationally. With HIA as our partner, are confident in achieving these goals.

VAYOS: Any other comments about Urban and the Halloween show?

MILLER: We already planning for 2016. We will have a big team presence onsite and will be spending time with exhibitors and attendees. We are looking forward to what the future holds.

more wholesale Costume News >>

Published 01-22-2015 by Ted Vayos

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