10 Minutes With … Licensing Expo on What’s New in 2024 and How to Make the Most of the Show

With Licensing Expo just one week away, License Global speaks with Ella Haynes, event director, Licensing Expo, Global Licensing Group, about what’s new for the event in 2024 and how visitors and exhibitors can make the most of their time in Las Vegas.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

May 10, 2024

10 Min Read
Ella Haynes, Licensing Expo 2024
Ella HaynesGlobal Licensing Group

License Global: Licensing Expo is just over a week away, what is new for the show this year that visitors can expect to see in Las Vegas?

Ella Haynes: The theme for Licensing Expo this year is ‘Brands at Play,” which will be visible across the show. We’ve got themed cafés and bars, including the SEGA Bar, which will host happy hours on days one and two and is open to everyone at the show. All are encouraged to come, have a free drink and network. We've also got the Cool Brands Café, which brings entertainment and branded play onto the show floor.

On top of that, we have the Hasbro Gaming Experience, where there's going to be giant Hasbro games that everyone can get involved with and play. There’s also a Games Lounge, which will host happy hours from various exhibitors, a Pickleball Pop-Up Experience and a DC Superman Fortress of Solitude photo opportunity. There's lots of experiences and touch points scattered across the show floor for visitors to interact with.

From a content perspective, we have four huge keynotes. The keynote on day one focuses on the future of gaming, the day two keynote will look at the podcast genre, we also have one on AI and a final one, which will be announced soon.

We are also introducing two new pavilions to the show this year, our Licensee Pavilion and our Japan pavilion. Japan is the third last largest licensing geography, in terms of revenue, so it's a nice opportunity to spotlight some new business opportunities in that region. The Licensee Pavilion packed with a variety of licensees including Waste2Wear, Nancon, Incubase Studio and Madcow Entertainment/Teknofun.

Related:CeeLo Green to Headline Licensing Expo Opening Night Party

Once again, we have a partnership with Women in Toys. This year, for the first time, they will be bringing their Women in Toys Empowerment Day to the final day of then show. The day is aimed at female inventors and start-up companies and gives them the opportunity to pitch to licensing professionals about their ideas.

Finally, our opening night party returns and we are also introducing a Licensing Expo Closing Night Party, which is taking place at the contemporary Las Vegas Hakkasan Nightclub and will feature a performance from international touring music duo, Loud Luxury. This party is free entry for anyone who has a Licensing Expo badge and is a nice way to close out the week with a celebration and more informal networking.

On the subject of parties, the acts for the Opening Night Party, which has been a real highlight of the week for the last couple of years, have now been confirmed. What can you tell us about that?

Related:Licensing Expo Opening Keynote Explores the Future of Gaming

Absolutely, we have just announced that CeeLo Green will headline this year’s Licensing Expo Opening Night Party at Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club. The party will also feature a performance from Jordyn Sugar, who is, a self-taught drummer, guitarist and pianist, catching the attention of Justin Bieber and as a music mentor on “The Fashion Hero” series. They're both brought to us by TreImage, who will be representing the artists on the floor.

Opening the whole party is Chapel Hart, which will bring a bit of a country theme. They have appeared on “America's Got Talent” and are a real powerhouse of a group. So, we're looking forward to bringing a few different genres to the party throughout the night.

Finally, closing out the party, attendees will get to experience a 500 light drone show, presented by Pixis, which will take flight into the sky. We’re excited about this; it’s the first time we have done anything like it. The display will showcase a variety of brands and will highlight the depth and creativity that the licensing industry can offer.

CeeLo Green, TreImage

Sustainability is a huge talking point across all sectors, but especially within events. What work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure Licensing Expo is as sustainable as possible?

Related:The Changemakers: Licensing Expo

We tackle sustainability in two ways. The first is how we educate and use our platform to drive change and be a voice to our industry, which we do through the educational content that we offer. This year, we’ve partnered up with Products of Change for a content session which will look at the trends, innovation and new products in the retail space. Another exciting session will also discuss this topic, and we will formally reveal the details of that soon. We've also got roundtables, enabling delegates to have open discussions around carbon offsetting, becoming carbon neutral and packaging solutions, in a more intimate format. The Products of Change booth will also showcase sustainable products and encourage people to think about how they could change some of their manufacturing processes or ways that they can encourage their future licensing deals to think about more sustainable choices.

The second part is how we as organizers can make sure that we're as sustainable as possible. Events can be wasteful, so we do everything we can to reduce our overall impact. Our Better Stands initiative ranks our exhibitors in terms of how they build their actual stand and looks at things like LED lighting, not using single use plastics and encourages the repetitive use of stands over future years. We track that through a gold, silver and bronze metric and work with our exhibitors to help them grow up the scale. We’re proud to say that all our exhibitors at Licensing Expo are bronze or above, so now our focus is on how we can help them to evolve further up that metric to get them to gold.

We also look at our suppliers and work closely with them on what materials they're using and how far they're shipping from.

The Mandalay Bay itself is a really sustainable venue, in that is has a huge waste resource recycling unit underneath the venue, plus solar energy roofing so runs off renewable energy. Anything that goes into a general waste bin is sorted through and allocated into the right place to be either destroyed or reused.

We then have an in-depth donation plan, which we run with our partners at Delivering Good and Mandalay Bay. They both work with a huge variety of local Las Vegas charity partners to ensure items are distributed to those in need.  Items which are usually useful for donation is anything from products (toys, games, clothing etc), furniture or décor from booths, printed materials for animal shelter shade protection and arts and crafts for schools. We try and make sure as much goes to useful homes as possible.

Much of what we have discussed highlights that Licensing Expo is a vibrant and fun event, but networking and meetings are obviously a core focus, for exhibitors. How would you advise visitors, and exhibitors, to make the most of Licensing Expo’s dedicated meetings platform before travelling to Las Vegas?

The Meetings Platform is the most critical place to start to build your personal profile. I'd recommend to anyone, exhibitor or visitor, to make sure that they complete as much of their personal details as possible. The more you fill out the platform, the better the search recommendations are going to be as it will suggest to you who to reach out to and who to try and connect with.

In addition, really explore the exhibitor list and the brand directory and get to know what is on offer at the show. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and book meetings. Licensing Expo is a meetings-heavy event and exhibitors want to meet with relevant visitors, so anything that you can plan is going to make sure that you get maximum return on investment from your time.

 If you need some advice or more support on the platform we do have our Matchmaking Lounge on the show floor, where you will find a dedicated team that will be on hand to help support people book meetings and will suggest who they should reach out to.

When attending an event, food and nutrition is key to keeping energy up. Is that part of the reason for the introduction of the food court on the show floor this year?

Wellness, nutrition and hydration are so critical. The new food court will be serving hot food options, while the cafés and bars will serve beverages and cold food options, all within the show hall itself. Make sure you take a minute to yourself, where you can, to refuel.

The food court will have a new menu each day too, with a slightly different theme. So, it should be easy grab-and-go station for visitors as they move around the show.

What advice would you give to first time visitors to the event?

Read the Brand Licensing Handbook, which is downloadable on Licensingexpo.com and from License Global, before you arrive.

Complete your personal profile on the Online Meeting Platform and have an explore around the exhibitors and brands and, most importantly, feel free to reach out to people.

We've also got our Licensing Unlocked educational tool. Look at the website before you travel, where there is a free module that you can access. You can also drop onto the Licensing Unlocked booth, C122, where you can gather advice and insight into what the educational program looks like. It really gives you the 101 and core needs of what licensing is and how to navigate it.

Finally, we have two content sessions in the License Global Theater which I'd highly recommend, Licensing 101 and our Orientation session and Show Floor Tour session are all aimed at people, visitors and exhibitors, that are new to the show and are a great way to meet people, but also learn about the core areas of the event and how to make the most of your time.

Finally, I suggest making use of the happy hours on the show floor each afternoon, as well as the opening and closing night parties, from a networking perspective and to help you build and grow your network.

What are you, personally, most looking forward to this year?

I always look forward to seeing the show floor and experiencing the creativity of our exhibitors. I just love that moment when you walk the show floor for the first time and see how much effort each exhibitor has put into their booth and the incredible IP which is in our industry.

But I am also really looking forward to seeing the drone show, presented by Pixis, at the end of the Opening Night Party this, just because it's so unique and it's not something we've done before. It will be a rare spectacle that’s not to be missed.

Finally, can you recommend a bar, restaurant or activity that visitors must source out, to make the most of their down time during the week?

We’ve secured a 15% food discount on selected Tao Group restaurants, including Hakkasan, Lavo, Luchini, Tao and Beauty & Essex, so anyone looking to offset some of their spending, I would recommend using that QR code.

The Mandalay Bay Resort itself has a wealth of different restaurants and bars, for those looking for easy access in terms of quick lunches or dinners in the evening.

But there's so much else to do, all within walking distance. Get out there and enjoy the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Licensing Expo takes place from May 21-23 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev.

Register for Licensing Expo 2024.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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