Q&A with Tom Portesy of MFV Expositions
During the final day of Franchise Expo South, held at the NRG Center in Houston, Texas, Feb. 5-7, we sat down with show organizer, Tom Portesy, of MFV Expositions. He told us about the show’s future location, the impacts of the internet on in-person expositions and what’s coming ahead at New York City show in June.
Franchise Times: Where will the show be next year, and beyond?
Tom Portesy: Right here in Houston. There’s a change in ‘17 we may not be able to, because Texans are waiting for word on the Super Bowl, so if they get it … we’ll see how it plays out.
FT: Any front-running cities if that is the case?
TP: Dallas and Atlanta are the two top tiers. That’s not to say in the future we wouldn’t move it to one of those locations anyway. You want to build some brand recognition, but there’s always something exciting about going to a city for the first time.
FT: How does the internet change the type of people at expos like this?
TP: The business has morphed into attendees who have done research and are on step 3. They’ve cleared a number of different hurdles before they get here. They’ve done so much research, they’ve talked to franchisors, they’ve looked at some of the costs and industries, and are really in a different mindset by the time they get here. They’re way more educated. It’s the biggest comment we hear time and time again, that the quality of the attendees at these shows is just off the charts. It’s so much different than it was 10 years ago.
FT: With the recent, very positive job numbers, what’s the mood in the industry?
TP: I think all of us should be gearing up for a good 10-year run. Everything’s in place—I really believe that. I think you’re at a point now where you’re going to see a really spectacular 10 years [in franchising].
FT: How does MFV market Franchise Expo South?
TP: Our advertising has really changed. We’re the mutual fund of advertising and lead generation. We have to do everything. We advertise in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, Entrepreneur, Franchise Times—all the national publications. And then we have to do local print, billboards, television, radio, every social medial. There’s nothing we don’t do.
FT: As a newcomer to the biz, what should I be looking forward to at the IFE New York show in June?
TP: It’s grown into a monster. This year, I think it will be the biggest franchise show in the world. Eight years ago, if you asked me if that was possible when it was in Washington D.C. and on life support — here we are so many years later and it’s probably going to be the biggest in the world. Last year we had people come from 48 states and 96 countries.