It’s not the economic backdrop that Dwayne McArthur wanted in the months leading up to the 2015 Red Deer Oil & Gas Expo.
But the organizer of the show, which will take place Sept. 17 to 19 at Westerner Park, said many energy companies are stepping forward despite the turmoil caused by low oil and gas prices.
“We expected, because of the price of oil, that there would be companies that say, ‘It’s just not in our budget this year.’ And that has happened.”
But, added McArthur, many others are booking space at the Expo — which returns to Red Deer after its inaugural event in 2013.
They appear intent on ramping up their marketing efforts, particularly given the relatively small cost of renting a booth at the show.
“If you have marketing people and sales people who are on salary anyway, they may as well be at the show,” he said.
In fact, some prospective exhibitors told him two years ago that they were too busy to take part in the 2013 Expo.
McArthur said some big multi-nationals have had to bow out because their budgets have been curtailed by decision-makers in places like Houston, Tex.
“What I have found is the Red Deer companies, the Edmonton companies and the Calgary companies — the companies that are aggressive about marketing and serious about not going into this downward spiral — are saying, ‘We can’t not be there. We’re still going to market; we’re still going to advertise.’”
Those companies that do attend this year will discover some changes from 2013.
Key among these is the fact the Red Deer Oil & Gas Expo has expanded from a Wednesday-Thursday event to one running from Thursday to Saturday. This was in response to a survey of exhibitors and attendees who suggested weekend hours would allow more people from outside Central Alberta to take part.
Another change for 2015 is about a one-third increase in the number of booths available. This is being accomplished by expanding the outside exhibit area and dividing many of the larger indoor spaces into smaller ones.
The beer gardens are being moved from the second level of the Prairie Pavilion to the Chalet. And a meet-and-greet social is planned for exhibitors on Wednesday night at the new Microtel by Wyndham hotel in Gasoline Alley.
An oil and gas job fair was going to be added to this year’s Expo, but may not proceed if the industry job market doesn’t improve, said McArthur.
“If we don’t have enough interest, what we’ll do is we’ll put a sign up that says that the job fair was postponed from this year until 2017.”
McArthur said he’s boosted promotion of the 2015 Red Deer Oil & Gas Expo, and expects another successful event.
“I don’t believe that there’s anybody in the Edmonton-Calgary corridor that is not going to know that there’s an oil and gas expo in Red Deer in September.”