Eastport trio enters trade show business

Posted Dec. 07, 2009, at 8:59 p.m.

EASTPORT, Maine — Three Eastport residents with extensive experience in trade shows and marketing have formed a new company, Northern Exposure Shows, to tap into that lucrative market.

“No doubt about it, the best way to reach potential customers for any business is face to face at consumer trade shows,” John Miller said Monday. “Likewise, it is one of the best places to find a great bargain if you’re a consumer.”

The partners are Miller and husband-and-wife team Bret and Mary Beth Blanchard.

The company’s aim is to produce consumer trade shows for two large and affluent niche markets in northern New England and Canada’s Maritime Provinces: the traveling public and the baby boomer generation.

The first Northern Exposure Shows exposition will be a Summer & Fall Consumer Travel Show to be held May 7-9 at the Bangor Civic Center.

The travel shows produced by Northern Exposure Shows will offer attendees free seminars on cruising, campgrounds, RV-ing and bus tours, adventure travel, experiential learning and property-destination introductions.

The travel shows also will offer consumers major discounts, money-saving coupons, incentives and the opportunity to book and win trips to global destinations.

“A large segment of the boomer population is nearing or at retirement,” Miller said. “Boomers are the wealthiest demographic group. Surveys show eight in 10 boomers identify themselves as having large buying power with four in 10 boomers saying they feel ignored by advertisers. Our boomer shows will be the only shows specifically for this niche market in the Northeastern United States.”

Consumer trade shows give the buyer the opportunity to see many exhibitors and vendors in one place.

According to the partners, one of the main reasons people attend consumer trade shows is that they want to see how the industry is responding to their desires and budgets. Attendees also have the opportunity to compare destinations, attractions, prices, products and features for both on-site and future purchases.

“This is a natural fit for all of us,” Mary Beth Blanchard said this week. “Our new business will certainly utilize all of the skills we have each developed over the past 35 years. We are all savvy baby boomers that love to travel all over the world. We have been involved in the travel business, customer service, promotion, education, wellness and doing trade shows as exhibitors throughout North America for almost three decades.”

The Blanchards have represented Eastport’s Boat School at more than 100 trade shows, work as tour directors for Atlantic Highway Tours and maintain a second home in Mexico, according to a company press release. Mary Beth Blanchard has worked in the health care field for more than 25 years and also has been part of Maine’s stock theater community.

Bret Blanchard worked for more than 25 years as a lead instructor and department chairman at The Boat School. He also has worked in management and yacht design positions at Hinckley Yachts and Ralph W. Stanley Co.

Miller has an extensive background in marketing, tourism, media and public relations that includes serving as press secretary to former Maine Gov. Angus S. King Jr. and was a special assistant to former U.S. Sen. Bill Hathaway, D-Maine. He served as director of public affairs and corporate development for Bay Ferries of Canada, the operators of the high-speed ferry The CAT. Miller also has anchored and reported television news.

“We will be working with everyone in the tourism industry from airlines and cruise lines to hotels, resorts, tour operators, visitors bureaus and travel agencies, just to name a few,” Miller said. “Our shows will provide the traveling public with the ability to do one-stop, face-to-face travel and vacation shopping with representatives from the full tourism industry spectrum. Exhibitors will be offering attendees incredible deals.”

For information on Northern Exposure Shows, call 800-691-8182 or visit www.northernexposureshows1.vpweb.com.

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