CBA selected Cincinnati and the Duke Energy Convention Center for a second consecutive year for UNITE 2017, CBA’s International Christian Retail Show. The convention is among the top 250 U.S. conventions and the largest gathering for Christian products and resource producers, retailers, suppliers, ministries, and content creators. A big change is timing as the June 28-30, 2017 dates are Wednesday through Friday, instead of the traditional Sunday through Wednesday. The shift will reduce exhibition costs and keep retailers in store for weekends.

The convention format continues to move toward expanded networking and engagement opportunities and more effective sales and presentation options. Another new development will be special “Rep-Arounds” which will enable exhibitors to present new products to a large number of grouped buyers in fast-paced presentation sessions. Additionally, improvements to the Connect matchmaking and appointment-setting service are planned after its first use at the June 2016 convention.

Exhibtion changes aim to make exhibiting easier, more affordable, and more specific to exhibitor needs. The 2016 convention introduced the new Business Development option, basically a meeting place for sellers and buyers. A turnkey exhibit package also was expanded to allow booth rentals and consolidated freight to lower exhibitor investment. New options may include cooperative exhibition opportunities and interactive media options. The popular UNITE Rewards buyer-incentive package is expected to return. In 2016, $50,000 in total cash incentives will be given to offset travel costs.

“The industry convention continues to have importance especially in a world where technology has altered the business-to-business sales and marketing landscape,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said. In addition to fostering industry relationships, it provides effective introduction of new products, voices, and lines. “A total-industry gathering creates synergy and energy to inspire growth, show progress, and envision the future,” he said. In early planning, CBA has identified new programs for buyers, sellers, and industry professionals. The new programs meet specific needs for each, Riskey said.

Buyers come to convention to find differentiation and inspiration to make themselves more competitive, he said. “That’s why new products and training are so critical at convention,” he said. Sellers want quality interactions with customers to build sales, loyalty, future orders, and better business cooperation. Industry professionals, including artists, authors, artisans, agents, pastoral leaders, and more, want peer-to-peer interaction, networking, client interactions, client development, and industry knowledge.

“As the industry’s convention moves into the future, we see this year’s ‘UNITE’theme laying the groundwork for more industry cooperation and collaboration to build strength for business and effectiveness for ministry,” Riskey said.