Returning to Chicago this February 14 to 16, 2014, OW-U kicks off this year’s expo on Valentine’s Day and it is sure to be a very special Friday night opening. To celebrate our 44th Show and Valentine’s Day we are playing a game taking on the show floor. Simply visit 12 exhibitor booths, pick up a flower at each, and when you bring a dozen flowers up to the front counter you will be entered into a contest to win a trip for two to an exotic location, and many other gifts. Also to celebrate this special opening day, we will be hosting a game show contest to see how well you know your date. This will be fun and of course prizes will be given away.
The Our World-Underwater Expo is well known for its packed exhibition floor and the workshops and seminars it conducts. The 2014 Show will be no different. Starting on Friday we will host seminars throughout the weekend. Seminars will cover everything from “what’s the hottest” dive destination to shipwreck archeology. You should plan your OW-U weekend to include visits to the exhibition floor and our packed seminar rooms.
A majority of our highly educational seminars and workshops will take place in the convention hall but many dive equipment manufacturers will be conducting workshops over at the Hyatt, our host hotel. Besides manufacturers many training agencies will be conducting instructor and member updates during the OW-U weekend. If you are looking to upgrade your diving skills there is no better place than at the Our World-Underwater Dive and Travel Expo.
The highlight for many OW-U attendees is our Friday and Saturday evening film festivals. They are known as one of the best diving film festivals are the world. Many film producers have started their careers at our programs. We’re always proud to bring them back as well as highlighting newly found talent. This year will be no exception. We have some industry legends and some undiscovered talent too. Everything this year will be produced and shown in HD. Each presentation is introduced by our emcee, and this year’s emcees are some of the best talent in the industry.
Many people come to Our World-Underwater for the weekend, there is just too much taking place to leave early, and the Hyatt Regency O’Hare offers some great room rates. You can book on line at our website, www.ourworldunderwater.com, while there you can even purchase your tickets.
We at Our World-Underwater feel it is important to give “credit where credit is due” and as such we created the Our World-Underwater Outstanding Achievement Award. This award was first given out in 1971 and we’re still excited to be giving it this year. The OW-U Outstanding Achievement Award has been presented to industry professional such as, the Cousteau’s, Al Giddings, Ernie Brooks, Lloyd Bridges, and of course Stan Waterman. It is truly an honor inviting these pros to the Show and having them on stage and this year we are honoring the work of David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes.
We are also proud of our Middle Coast Award, which is presented during the Friday evening film festival. We have made it our goal to bring special recognition to them and honor those individuals that have benefited Midwest diving.
The DEMA Be A Diver Pool, will be back this year. We are looking to help the local business by offering FREE try SCUBA. The pool is sponsored by DEMA and we will have volunteers from clubs and stores to help run the event. There is an RV and camping show in the building along with us and we will invite their people into the show to try SCUBA. The team at OW-U is very proud to attract thousands of divers to the show as well as we bring in new blood. The show is a great boost for the Midwest and sparks interest in a lot of people becoming divers.
Prior to the Show, this February 11th and 12th, the PADI Business Academy, will be taking place at the Hyatt. This program has helped many retail stores grow their business in some tough times. It is open to PADI dive centers and their professional staff. The Dive Industry Association will, on Friday February 14th be hosting a business presentation for industry professional. Over the past few years this has proven to be very well attend and a huge help for stores and professionals to gain tools to succeed in this market.
The success of the show comes in many ways, some from our loyal sponsors, some from booth sales and a lot for the local dive industry. Sponsors get a lot of benefits form the show, but the biggest point is these funds are used to advertise the show. Without sponsors and ads in the program our advertising budget is drastically reduced so we love our sponsors.
Portions of the proceeds from the show and the silent auction go to the two foundations. The Time Early Foundation raises money to assist in aquatic education and programs in the Midwest. Grant are reviewed and approve quarterly for any aquatic program or project that can help the industry. We also help fund the Ralph Erickson educational Foundation. This foundation conducts group PADI IDC programs for those in need. The Grants are reviews by the board and acceptance is based on the necessity of the program in a specific are.