Changes Heading Your Way
for FLOAT 2022
Now that the dust has settled and FLOAT 2020 is in the history books, we are already looking forward to our next event in Chicago in 2022, as are many of you. In fact, I would argue that if you're reading this article, you too are already looking forward to it as well!
We at FLOAT are always looking to improve things for everyone involved, so here are some exciting new changes and adjustments being made to FLOAT 2022.
It's Time to Raise the Roof!
For the last several years, FLOAT has capped attendance at 350 paid delegates, in part due to the limited size of our venue in St. Louis, but also because of our concerns over whether or not we as a production team could handle more people. But now that we have a new venue and eight conventions under our belt, we feel confident that we can now remove the limitations and offer an expanded event for as many people who wish to come.
An Expanded Vendor Showcase
One of FLOAT's biggest draws over the last several years has been our Vendor Showcase, and once again in 2022 the show will expand again! Yes, FLOAT will have as many as 40 vendors in 2022, but even more importantly we will have a LOT more space to host the showcase. This means wider aisles, more room to move about and a much more professional look for us overall.
Plus there's ANOTHER new addition to the showcase that we're very excited about...for the first time at FLOAT, we will be offering a Product Demo Stage in the showcase as well! This means that our vendors will get the chance to present all kinds of new and fun things for you at FLOAT. And this will be the new home for our raffle drawings as well so we no longer encroach on vendors during this process.
An Adjusted Academic Schedule
In an effort to give delegates more time to enjoy the Vendor Showcase, we will be adjusting the class schedule on Monday and Tuesday. The 1:30 PM class has been removed from the schedule, and the 3:30 PM class has been bumped forward to 2:30 PM. The 1:30 PM class will now be rescheduled for 6:00 PM, which means there will be a LOT more free time during the day on Mondays and Tuesdays so delegates can enjoy more time with the vendors without missing out on class time.
Life's a Beach
We've had more people asking about social events at FLOAT, which fits really went into what we've wanted to do anyway, so now it's time to bring out the big guns! Get ready to enjoy our first ever installment of the FLOAT Beach Party! Scheduled for Monday, January 24th, at 8:00 PM, we will bring the house down with a fun and festive theme party complete with palm trees, bikinis and of course, awesome balloon decor! We hope this event will become a regular part of FLOAT, so the bigger the turn out, the more likely that will happen!
Meet Up Groups
For the first time, FLOAT will offer scheduled meet-up groups throughout the convention where like-minded people can get together to discuss various topics based on their particular need or interest. Maybe it's about retail owners, maybe it's about how to market to schools, or maybe it's about balloon decorators living with latex allergies! Whatever the subject, everyone and anyone will be welcome to attend these new casual sessions at FLOAT.
Limited Access to Hotel Discount Codes
From this point forward, no one will get access to the hotel discount codes until they have actually registered for the convention. Our host hotel block for FLOAT 2020 was completely oversold and closed off in JUNE OF 2019; this was particularly frustrating because roughly 25% of those rooms were reserved and locked up by people who never even registered to come to FLOAT in the first place! They wanted to hold a room IN CASE they could come....well, no more. You want a discounted room? You HAVE to commit to FLOAT first...plain and simple.
Dedicated Manufacturer Classrooms
At FLOAT 2022, one of the big changes you'll see is that our different balloon manufacturers will have their own exclusive classrooms! So if you want to take a class sponsored by Qualatex, Betallic, Anagram, Gemar or TufTex, you'll be able to do so (for the most part) in their own dedicated classroom. This will make things easier on delegates, sponsors AND our crew when it comes to logistics and location...VERY excited about this change, and it's all possible because of our new venue!
New Optional Class Pass
While those of you who purchased FLOATation Passes absolutely loved them, a bunch of others just didn't get it. A lot of people couldn't wrap their heads around how the math worked with the benefits, others were simply priced out of the passes. So in 2022, we are creating a special Master and Bonus class discount pass that will allow delegates to sign up for optional classes at a bulk rate so to speak. But of course, this pass will be limited compared to our FLOATation Pass, which will also be returning at FLOAT 2022.
More Exclusive Master Class Instructors
In an effort to expand FLOAT's academic footprint, it is our pledge to you to offer more exclusive instructors to offer our Master Classes at FLOAT 2022. In other words, rather than having general instructors pull double duty as Master Class teachers, we are looking to bring in even MORE instructors to offer such classes to give you more opportunities to learn at FLOAT.
Expanded FLOAT Crew
To better serve you, the delegate at FLOAT, our amazing team is growing! We have added an additional staff person to assist with the "front of the house" duties with regard to registration, retail, etc, and an additional "back of the house" crew member to assist with logistics, supply, etc.
FLOAT will be expanding the number of "blue seats" in each classroom at FLOAT 2022 to better serve the needs of our challenged and aging delegates. However, we will also be tightening the policies of just how people will qualify to receive these badges and everyone will be clear as to just what possessing these badges mean and what benefits they are granted (and what they are not granted as well).
A New Website(s)
For years now, FLOAT has been working with a DIY system, and while it's easy to make changes and manage, it does a really poor job of actually being discovered online! Many of you have expressed that concern, and with the need for continued growth of the convention, it's time FLOAT put it's "big boy pants on" and upgrade to a better site for everyone.
Plus on top of that, we are also in the process of creating SponsorFLOAT.com as an attempt to create a better interface with our sponsors and vendors so they can more easily find the info they need.
Time to Charge a Fee to Compete
As much as we hate to do this, it's time to happen...we have to start charging a small fee for those people who wish to compete at FLOAT 2022 in our Designer of the Year competitions. With the deluge of entrants who signed up in 2020, thus forcing us to have to request people to withdraw from competitions, this will allow us to better control the numbers of competitors at FLOAT 2022 and "thin the herd" as it were from those who are really serious versus those just casually interested.
The End of the "Suite Spot"
Due to rising levels of attendee abuse, lack of sponsorship and new related costs assessed by our new host hotel, FLOAT's Hospitality Suite has come to an end. While it was essential in St. Louis, our new hotel shares a parking lot with a full service Target department store! As such, there won't be nearly as much need for the "Suite Spot" (which also means that our own Pat Crosland will get to do something else at FLOAT for once!)