Ahh, Las Vegas, where things are always bigger, bolder and splashier than the year before. Now the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo is returning to this popular metropolis after a three-year absence — and it will offer its own new attractions.

The 2018 Expo, sponsored by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, will be at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Bayside Halls D-F. The Expo is Oct. 31-Nov. 2; educational sessions run Oct. 28-Nov. 2.

The host city choice was a data-driven decision, explains Tracy Garcia, CEM, show director of the PSP Expo, based in Irving, Texas. “We solicited feedback from attendees and exhibitors, and there was an overwhelming desire to bring the show back to Las Vegas,” she says.

The Expo typically draws around 10,500 attendees, according to Garcia. More than 500 exhibitors are expected in the 140,000-square-foot exhibit space.

As always, the core educational program is brimming with sessions — 45 this year, and all are new. Classes also are conducted in the exhibit hall, and there are pre/post conference certification programs from APSP, Genesis, National Swimming Pool Foundation, National Plasterers Council and American Shotcrete Association.

The PSP Expo Mobile App returns this year. Users can add and save notes during sessions or meetings; manage agendas; connect with attendees and exhibitors, and receive real time updates on show activities. It’s free and available through Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

But that’s not all: This year’s show also offers some surprises. “This is not the same event as it has been in years past,” Garcia notes. Her team researched and gathered feedback from attendees and exhibitors so they could “ … continue to produce an event that is not only relevant, but fun. This year we are introducing features that will offer our audience more engagement, more education and more exhibits,” Garcia says. Check it out:

New for 2018

> Welcome Party: This year’s event has a new twist. Instead of being in a bar or nightclub, it’s at Acrylic Tank Manufacturing headquarters, home of the hit TV show “Tanked.” Set for Oct. 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m., admission is $45; $50 after 9/15. Registration required. Shuttles are available.

> Spa Retailer Academy: This brand-new academy, sponsored by Bullfrog Spas and Evosus, will provide targeted education for spa retailers by leading companies in the industry.

> SWIMN Reception: This new event on Oct. 30, 5-7 p.m., in Mandalay Bay Convention Center is for the organization called Supporting Women, Industry-Wide, Mentors & Networking. It offers mentorship, networking and education for female industry members. Speaker Heidi Ellsworth will tell how her group, National Women in Roofing, was able to organize and grow to 700 members. Registration fee: $10; visit swimn.net.

> Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge: This competition is based on a real site and a demanding, fictitious client. Veterans and promising new designers will come up with the ultimate outdoor oasis with a million-dollar budget. Five finalists, including one student, will receive a trip to the Expo to present their renderings to their peers. Voting will ensue and the winner will receive $5,000 on Oct. 31.

> New networking opportunities: Three new networking locations can be found on the Expo floor this year: Connection Corner, where you can enjoy refreshments, network with industry colleagues and take professional headshots. Party on the Patio offers a chance to make new connections, enjoy an “adult beverage” and play classic outdoor games. Relaxation Stationprovides a spa-like environment, and quick massages.

Can’t-Miss Highlights

> Show-Floor Pavilions: Outdoor Living Pavilion features outdoor living offerings and casual furniture. Genesis Design/Build/Landscape Pavilion offers continuing education and access to the Genesis Lifestyle Program.

> APSP WAVE Young Professionals Network event: Industry professionals under age 40 will meet at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m., to network and socialize. Admission: $10, APSP members; $20, non-members.