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Here’s what we experienced at the AQUA LIVE show in Charlotte this month…

It was 2006 when I said goodbye to my “other” clients, and chose to focus exclusively on the swimming pool industry. That was also the year the well-loved 1000-booth “AQUA Show” was sold to Hanley Wood (now Informa), and ultimately morphed into what is now the International Pool Spa Patio Deck Expo.

I heard great things about the Aqua Show, but as a newcomer, I never experienced it myself. Until earlier this month.

AQUA Magazine rebirthed the Aqua show under the name “Aqua Live,” and began the process of building another juggernaut pool industry trade show.

My take on it?
If I were to boil it all down to one word, it would be “Quality.”

Great hotels, great convention center, great education rooms, and great restaurants – all within a block or two of each other.

One might logically presume that the classes were of utmost quality as well, since yours truly was an instructor. But I was rightfully humbled by the many celebrities and industry greats including Olympian Rowdy Gaines, Dr. Bill Kent, and of course the highly-respected founders and faculty of Genesis and Watershapes University.

Let me also add “great city.”

This was my first visit to Charlotte NC. And while Charlotte is about the same size as my adopted hometown of Austin TX, the downtown Charlotte area was distinctly cleaner, fresher, safer, and more hip-urban-feeling. I don’t know why, but Austin still has a lot of small buildings intermingled with an increasing number of skyscrapers.

Charlotte felt more like a “mini-New York.” Not really, not even by a long shot, but compared to Austin, it somehow it just felt more urban and sophisticated to me.

So I would definitely go back to Charlotte again.

I also saw quality in the attendees.

We didn’t have the attendance of a 10,000 person show, but we certainly had quality people. The business owners I met with were (1) successful, and (2) on a mission to get things done.

There was a friendliness and cordiality accompanied by a seriousness of intention that made conversations more worthwhile.

Contrast that to Las Vegas, where the vibe in that city seems to suck the seriousness out of everything.

Let me also commend the quality of the Welcome Party.

Renting out the entire NASCAR Hall of Fame facility was a stroke of genius. The venue is cleverly set up like a heavily-sloped indoor racetrack with what had to be at least 50 famous race cars from over the years, all in a frozen race of a lifetime.

Perfect for walking, chatting, and enjoying great drinks, appetizers and live music.

Overall, the three-day event was classy, friendly, elegant, and convenient. I would say the new Aqua Live show has a great future ahead of it.

I will definitely be there next year.

Brett Lloyd Abbott
Head Guru at Pool Builder Marketing LLC

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