Esri User Conference Behind-the-Scenes: The UC Expo

Blog Post created by Charlotte_Papp-esristaff on May 16, 2018

This week we are going to talk about the 247,388 square-foot, 500+ computer Expo. I met with Esri’s area manager for ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, Sean Breyer, who has the unique perspective of attending the User Conference as both an attendee and as an Esri staff.


What is the Expo?

The Expo is located in Halls A-C on the first floor of the convention center where Esri experts are excited to answer questions about our products. You can also find the Esri partners showcasing the great things they are doing in GIS.


What does Esri do to prepare?

First, each Area Manager needs to determine the layout of their area. The Living Atlas area went through eight redesigns to optimize their space for noise, walkability and easy access for attendees. Once the floorplan is determined, staff need to be selected and scheduled. Sean tries his best to make sure there will always be someone scheduled in the area whom can answer every question, which was something that was important to him when he was an attendee of the conference.

OPS Center Demo Theater PresentationBefore the conference, he gathers with his team to review responses to both common and difficult questions, allowing them to dive deeper into their areas of expertise. They practice until everyone on the team is comfortable explaining each map/app/layer, and can customize their answers to meet the needs of their practice clients.

Apart from each area, there are also the Expo Spotlight talks. These talks are short discussions on a specific subject that will also point you in the direction of other resources at the conference about that topic. Sean’s spotlight talk will focus on common challenges faced when starting your first Esri Story Map, and he will share tips and tricks for newly released software.


“I think there is a different mindset when you attend the User Conference as an Esri staff member vs. a user. For the Esri staff, it is a place to share your hard work, and listen to the users bring their new ideas into the mix. For the users, you just get so much information thrown at you with no breaks. But I think in both cases you are pretty much exhausted by Wednesday afternoon.”


-Sean Breyer, ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, Program Manager


Why should I go to the Expo?

The Expo is a great place to see the innovation that is happening in the world of GIS. It is where you go to see the products and partners that are doing incredible things in GIS. Most importantly, the Expo is where you go to make connections.


People socializing in Expo areaEsri is a “company of relationships” according to Sean. We value the relationships and conversations that we have with our users, and we are constantly looking to improve the platform usability and help our users innovate new spatial workflows in their work. It is not very often that you will have access to the people who are directly building the technology and developing the code that you are using, but the Expo floor is the place to do that.


For Esri staff, the Expo is the place to find new ways customers are using Esri products. Often conversations with users show us new use cases.


Be sure to check out the Living Atlas area and Demo Theater presentations located in the Esri Expo.

Tips from the Team:


  • Go to SIGs. They will go over topics that directly relate to your work, and often give you insights into what other sessions you should attend during the week.
  • Spend lots of time visiting the partner booths to learn about new ways to use Esri software.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will walk a lot.
  • If you have very specific questions, get to the floor early, then you can follow up later in the week to answer additional questions.
  • Use the Discovery Tags to get extra information.
  • Go to the Map Gallery. There are many big agencies there, students and small organizations that could lead to your next big project.

For Discussion:

With so much information and so many things to learn, how do you fit time for the Expo into your schedule?