(March 1, 2019) The 45th annual Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s Spring Trade Expo at the 40th Street convention center will feature 400 companies filling 500 booths and all three exhibit halls, Sunday and Monday.

“The show is a really good asset in the area as well as for people outside of Ocean City, but it’s also somewhere you can find out about new and innovative products and try new things without having to go to several different trade shows,” Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Event Manager Liz Walk said. “We have all these distributors in one place and you can do everything in a one-stop shop.”

games

Owner Joe Zannino, of Ocean City, shows off his Electric Quarter Amusement games during the Spring Trade Show at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street, last year.

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

O’Neale will take the culinary showcase stage at 12 p.m. on Sunday for a cooking demonstration, in addition to a meet and greet and cookbook signing. Also appearing this year will be “Chopped” winner Baltimore Chef David Thomas, who will be creating soul food dishes inspired by his grandmother on Monday at 1 p.m.

Local Chef Paul Suplee and his students from Wor-Wic Community College will take the stage on Sunday at 2 p.m.

New to the expo this year is the Paint, Pose and Pour Pavilion.

TC Studios of Ocean City, which will offer a painting experience for attendees of a food and wine scene.

For the “pose” portion, attendees can put on costumes and take pictures in a photobooth provided by OC Photobooth.

Finally, for the “pour” segment, new Wine on Tap Distributor, Tap 26, will partner with the Bubbles & Brews Prosecco and Craft Beer Bar to feature prosecco, wine and beer samples on a vintage Piaggio Ape food truck.

Walk encourages guests to attend a presentation on navigating labor laws, Monday at 9 a.m. in room 208, before the doors open for the trade show.

“We have lawyers coming in to talk about everything going on with overtime wages, tip pooling, paid sick leave, etc.,” Walk said. “That’s really pertinent to our area right now, especially with us being a seasonal town. It’s free legal advice. I think it’s very important. You have to know what’s going on to stay current and avoiding lawsuits.”

There are also a number of other seminars to choose from this year, including how to handle negative reviews and managing online reputations, creating the best guest experience, protecting employees and information about substance abuse in the industry.

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 Bumbleberry Vodka from Seacrets on 49th Street. The Distillery will be handing out samples of the new drink which is gluten free and tastes of blueberry, raspberry and blackberry. 

“If you’re in the industry, this is absolutely an event not to miss,” Walk said. “You’ll get great deals, you’ll find new products and be able to network with other business owners as well.”

To see a list of show products and specials, visit www.oceancitytradeexpo.com/new-products-show-specials.

In 2019, the Ocean City Green Team is taking source reduction one step further with the “Protect Our Sand and Sea” campaign. 

This elective and eco-friendly program promotes greener choices for business owners and consumers. Green team members will be at this year’s trade show to introduce and promote the new campaign as well as another campaign geared at reducing and recycling cigarette butts.

​The Spring Trade Expo started 45 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.

“It was started in the early 70s because no one wanted to travel from Ocean City all the way to Baltimore for a trade show,” Walk said. “So, the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant-Association thought that it was a good thing for our members as well as the organizations in our areas to have one in Ocean City.”

Since then, the show has become a major business and social event for the regional hospitality industry. Last year, more than 5,500 people attended.

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. Guests must be 21 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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