Photonics West expands into new South Hall

The 2006 Photonics West conference (January 21-26) will be the first to utilize the new South Hall addition to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

SAN JOSE, CA - The 2006 Photonics West conference (January 21-26) will be the first to utilize the new South Hall addition to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. The new hall not only adds more room for the commercial exhibits, it eliminates the need for the show to be split between the main hall of the convention center and the Parkside Hall annex across the street. Sue Davis, project manager at SPIE, says the move will be a welcome change for both exhibitors and attendees and will enable the conference to continue to expand comfortably.

“The challenge here for San Jose as a city is that they have groups like us that are having the same kinds of space pressures as we are,” said Davis, who also serves on the convention center board and was involved in the planning process for the South Hall. “And unless they could commit the funds to expand the hall, we and many others were going to explore other options.”

The new South Hall, which is located behind the convention center in what used to be a parking area and is easily accessible from the main hall, adds 80,000 square feet to the convention center for a total of 223,000 square feet. According to SPIE, this translates into room for 200-300 additional booths and table top exhibits.

“About a third of the entire exhibition will now be in the South Hall,” said Peter Hallett, development strategist at SPIE. “Plus we have some ‘neighborhoods’ and pavilions and clusters of companies that wanted to have their booths grouped together. We were unable to do this in the main hall but we have been able to accommodate them in the South Hall, so there will be a lot of new companies and new technology in that hall.”

Photonics West is one of the biggest conferences to take place annually in San Jose, generating $16 million in revenues for the city each year; in fact, Photonics West uses 10,000 hotel-room nights throughout the area during the event.

“Two-thirds of the attendees at this event are not from the San Jose area, and they need a place to sleep and places to eat-compared to many of the shows that take place at the San Jose convention center that are more locally oriented. So this is why the city decided to find some way to make this work.”

According to SPIE, the main hall exhibit space is already sold out for Photonics West 2006 and the South Hall is about 50% filled. Both Davis and Hallett believe that these numbers are a result of the show’s continued popularity plus the expansion of the venue.

“Things are looking good for filling it up for 2006,” Hallett said. “The subtext is that Photonics West is extremely popular and growing. People see Photonics West as an indicator of what to look for in terms of new products and new technologies each year. Companies want to be there to increase their sales and profits, and now we have room for them.”

-Kathy Kincade

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