Dick Cheney’s voice rings through the air in a packed exposition center in Billings Montana, while the captivated audience of professional men and women look onward. They know they are a part of something big. Drilling activities have exploded across the United States and a modern day gold rush has begun. Vice President Cheney expands upon the need for strong leadership in government to ensure that pro-drilling legislation and policy is fought for. The audience knows that this boom can mean the creation of more jobs, higher wages and a pathway to energy independence for the United States as a whole.
What started as a “get-together” for lawmakers and operators to educate the public on the coal-bed methane boom in Wyoming nearly two decades ago has quickly grown into an oil and gas conference that is the largest, longest running conference in the Rocky Mountain region. But why is Billings Energy Exposition so successful? Shale Plays Media explores the top 10 reasons why it is critical that land men, rig workers and oil executives alike should attend the 2015 show in Billings, Montana on June 24 and 25th.
1. It’s free to the public
Most conferences charge hundreds of dollars just to walk in the door. For example, a standard visitor ticket at most conferences will run in the price range of $25 to $50, but delegate tickets can run in the range of several hundred to thousands of dollars. Austin Jennings, the Marketing Director for the Energy Expo, explains how the Expo does things much differently, “Let’s take for instance a landowner who has mineral rights and oil and gas interests on his land and is interested in selling, getting new information or meeting people. If he’s going to have to pay 250 bucks to get into the show, he’s not going to do it. But if it’s free, then they always do and there are some big transactions and big deals that can go on through a meeting like that.” Austin further explained that ease of access to large networking events is becoming more important than ever, as young start-ups vie for attention, funding, and important connections in the booming oil and gas industry. Austin affirmed, “We can’t lock people out!” With thousands of companies entering the industry, open communication and access to the people that matter has become one of the largest challenges companies face. The only rules are you must be over 18, there are no strollers allowed, and you must fill out a registration card for your personalized name badge. All shows and events have rules. Be sure to check out the last rule for the Expo according to founder Kit Jennings: “Any Exhibitor or visitor not having fun should notify a member of the Event Staff to rectify the problem.”
2. Out of this world food and dining experience
Where as many conferences and trade shows will serve sub-par meat, dubbed by many as “rubber chicken,” and cold vegetables with rice… this is not that kind of event. A professional chef prepares an excellent meal with items such as lobster tail and prime rib for all of the attendees. Most importantly, all food is fresh! Each meal even features a custom labeled pre-selected wine pairing for a touch of added class. And, at the industry networking dinner, the Expo has drawings for door prizes like $3,000 custom engraved gold plated shotguns and industry belt buckles or watches.
3. The SPE Golf Tournament
The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Energy Exposition “Chip in Fore Kids” Golf Tournament kicks of the Exposition on June 23rd. All proceeds are donated to support the hands-on children’s museum “Wise Wonders” in Billings, and every cent of revenue funds interactive stations about the drilling industry for the younger generation. Gallop polls about public perception of the oil and gas industry has long shown support ratings hovering in the 20-30 percent range and the younger generation has been slow to support the new energy boom. Awareness campaigns for the industry supported by fun activities like the SPE Golf Tournament are critical for improving public opinion. The tournament happens the day before the expo, so make sure to get accommodations early. You don’t want to miss out on this genuinely enjoyable way to make a difference in children’s education.
4. Amazing Speakers
Last year Dick Cheney, the former Vice President and CEO of Halliburton, was the keynote speaker for the event. Other notable past headliners: Tim Wigley, President at Western Energy Alliance and Executive Vice President at Pac/West; Mark Mathis, Founder of Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy “CARE”, Director, Producer, Co-writer of “spOILed”, Speaker/Actor in “The Astronaut Farmer” Warner Bros, and Line Producer of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” Premise Media; and Randall Luth, President of National Ocean Industries Association, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Director of the Minerals Management Service at Dept. of Interior 2007-2009, and Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives 2005-2007. Check back in January 2015 to find out who the 2015 Expo speakers will be. If they are anything like the 2014 Expo, you are in for a treat.
5. A Great Destination: Billings, Montana
Billings, Montana is the perfect venue for oil and gas education. Centrally located right in between the Niobrara and Bakken shale areas. Billings offers an eclectic array of restaurants, bars, fishing, hiking, and gateway to Yellowstone, plus many other attractions to keep you entertained before or after the conference. The Billings Logan International Airport provides non-stop service to nine major cities to make sure you, and the many out of state visitors that attend the Energy Exposition, can arrive and depart as quickly as needed. Billings is a family-friendly city, and the Expo encourages all visitors to bring their husbands, wives or the entire family along to enjoy the festivities. .
6. You will leave with more than just business contacts
The Energy Exposition was originally created as an educational event to help educate policy makers and the public at large on the oil and gas industry. So, naturally, the educational aspects of the conference still remain. You’ll find seminars and informational courses about fracking for the general public and those who know the industry inside and out. New technology is often highlighted. One year, a booth even set up a full pump jack on the exhibition floor. As for your business contacts, the expo uses electronic lead scanners that organize your new contacts through the use of attendee name tags. This way you will never forget or misplace a business card or an errantly written phone number on a napkin again! The expo’s motto is: Expose yourself to key players at the energy trade show like no other.
7. The coordinators are awesome
Organizing an expo is a lot of work. Most of the time trade shows are organized by third party firms or associations who work part-time for the planning, marketing, and implementation of the event. The Energy Exposition is a family-owned business, started by founder Kit Jennings. His son, Marketing Director Austin Jennings, joined the family business several years after its founding and now works full time on the Expo. Kit has over 30 years of experience in the oil & gas industry, served as a State Senator for 8 years in Wyoming, and was also a lobbyist for the industry in Washington, D.C. Austin explains, “This is our livelihood and passion. This is what we do. We work year round to make one week an amazing experience.” Since working on the Energy Expo is the staff’s only job, they are dedicated full-time, year-round. And, most importantly, they are easy to access—you can call them day or night. There website even features a live expo specialist chatroom, ready to answer your questions instantly.
8. A laid-back atmosphere
Jennings stated, “Even though we have big oil and we have big companies worth lots of money, we don’t really have a lot of three-piece suits walking around. It’s a laid-back embroidered company shirts kind of atmosphere. It’s more all-inclusive.” Everyone involved in the industry comes to the Energy Exposition, not just the CEOs. Workers from all parts of the stream come to check out the new tech and even the general public will come to learn more about the booming industry. It is commonplace to see people laughing and having a great time. The high energy and fun environment is good for business. In fact, the Energy Exposition’s exhibitors are known to have games and drawings set up in their booths to schmooze potential clients. Furthermore, mornings at the exposition are anything but dull. While you’re waking up and eating your country style buffet breakfast, “Breakfast and a Movie” offers critically acclaimed documentaries such as Fracknation and SpOILed will be there to keep your mind in the game. You can also grab a custom labeled Energy Exposition Energy Shot before you hit the exhibit floor!
9. The booths are actually affordable
If your business is just starting up, don’t worry. Booth prices are affordable and range from $1500- $8500 based on their location and size. In comparison, many other expo’s have booths that begin at $3,000. Booths range in size from 10×10 standard booths to 20×30 booths for heavy machinery and larger displays. There is even an outside booth exhibition space for tractor trailers, cranes, and large pumping units. In short, the Expo caters to the entire industry: upstream, midstream, and downstream companies. Small businesses and large companies can both have the space and the price that they require in order to get the most out of this amazing trade show.
10. Easy Shipping and Storing
The Energy Expo caters to companies of all sizes and does not shy away from larger displays. Many companies ship in large equipment that needs to be safely transported and stored before and after the convention. For this very reason, the Expo has partnered with North Park Transportation Co. (NPT) to be the official shipper of the Expo. NPT is affiliated with ABF Freight System, Inc., Roadway Express, and Yellow Freight. The added benefit of this partnership is that all shipments can be stored at the NPT facility for up to one week and delivered directly to the complex with ease. So, your company never has to worry about the added stress of transportation and storing logistics while planning for the Energy Expo.
This article was sponsored in part by The Energy Exposition in Billings, MT.