Our First Experience as an Exhibitor

The 2015 MBA Annual Convention & Expo

lba_ware_mbaannual15During my first attempt writing this blog post, it was just after 6am and I was watching many familiar faces pass by me as they took their seat on our flight back to Atlanta. I was laughing to myself as it appeared fellow passengers and I were in quite a similar situation – barely awake thanks to the dreaded 4am wake up call, desperate for a cup of coffee (can you believe there was NO Starbucks in the terminal? I mean, we were in a California airport!!), ears still ringing from rocking out to Sheryl Crow the night before, and an aching back due to all the swag and tchotchkes stuffed in carry-ons that were bursting at the seams.

Needless to say, it was a fun, informative, and successful trip to San Diego for the 2015 Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention and Expo. My colleagues and I head back to Macon, GA jammed packed with new business relationships, ideas, inspiration, laughs, and more than a few blisters on our feet.


I wasn’t able to attend as many learning sessions as I hoped but I did have a chance to sit in the worthwhile panel discussion “Perspectives on Future Business Growth” between Danny Gardner from Freddie Mac, Stanley C. Middleman of Freedom Mortgage, and Matthew Nichols with Deephaven Mortgage and moderated by Traderoom Capital’s Garry Cipponeri. The panelists discussed hot mortgage industry topics including what makes this generation’s first time home buyers different, how lenders can gain more business without increasing risk, what the QM market looks like, and where we go from here. But, it was a question from an audience member that seemed to make the biggest impression on attendees. When asked if the mortgage industry was going to be disrupted in the next 5-10 years, Stan Middleman didn’t skip a beat replying with “Our business is going to be disrupted…like now!” Adding one would almost be naïve to think it will take that long for it to happen. Moderator Garry Cipponeri agreed with Stan, saying “this industry needs to be disrupted. We need automation!”

This industry needs to be disrupted. We need automation!”

- Garry Cipponeri

Ok, I may be privy to agreeing with them considering we (LBA Ware) develop automation and integration software specifically for mortgage lenders, but both Middleman and Cipponeri are correct. Automation is critical and it won’t be long before disruption occurs.

Maybe disruption has already begun…

In an era where there is so much change happening, in everything from regulations to market size and demographics, the mortgage industry has to embrace the change and embrace technology. And new MBA Chairman Bill Emerson so too agrees. While origination volume forecasts suggest a decline over the next year or two, it provides an opportunity to hone your skills and reinvent the wheel so to speak, by integrating technology solutions into daily life. That way, you and your team will be prepared for the next market burst and can capitalize on the increased volume with ease and in compliance.

Now, back to #MBAAnnual15.

No convention would be a year in and year out event if it was all work and no play. And the MBA delivered. Jay Leno started our Tuesday morning off with an entertaining stand-up routine filled with some great laughs. The former host of The Tonight Show even came out of retirement for moment by providing a thought provoking interview with General Colin Powell that touched upon everything from the former Secretary of State’s military experience, view on racism, and even offering up a story about the time he made Russia’s President Vladimir Putin smile. It was, without a doubt one of, if not the best parts of the entire convention.


But just like that, the 2015 MBA Annual Convention was wrapping up. As a vendor to the mortgage industry, it was nice to see what other solutions are out there and to hear firsthand how the market is responding. And let me tell you, exhibiting vendors were a plenty (Patrick Barnard agrees). It must have been similar to a kid in a candy store for many of the lenders that actually were in attendance – so many vendors, all doing their best to grab lenders’ attention with whatever gags they could come up with.

So, was it a good experience? Yes.

Will we attend next year? Absolutely.

Will we do another year as an exhibitor? Unlikely. Not because it was a bad experience but because it would be more beneficial use of our time meeting one-on-one with clients and potential new clients then standing in a room with 100’s of other vendors all fighting for the attention of a select few.

If your company is thinking about exhibiting at the MBA Annual Convention & Expo in Boston next year for the first time, take some pointers from our first experience:


  • Do expect to pay a minimum of $20,000 just for the event space, booth structure (rental or purchase) and mandatory UNION labor.
  • Do wear comfortable shoes.
  • Do book hotel rooms as soon as housing becomes available.
  • Don’t spend a lot of money on giveaways.
  • Don’t anticipate an immediate ROI.
  • Do bring warm clothes (A/C is cranked up).
  • Do schedule your booth dismantle ½ hour (at minimum) after the exhibit ends because it takes a while for the freight to arrive and you’re more than likely paying overtime rates for your union labor to wait around for it to arrive.
  • Do be unique to stand out from the crowd.
  • Do bring plenty of business cards.

Looking forward to seeing you all next year in BOSTON!