It’s Steam, Not Smoke, on the Horizon: 2014 CEIR Index Report Reply

GES_logo_stacked-name_Sept 2011

By Reagan Cook

Momentum requires a direction and some speed, and our industry has lacked both in the past five years. Fortunately, the 2014 CEIR Index report indicates that momentum is building in the exhibition industry. The report shows there’s more strength in the business sectors, and in years ahead it will look much stronger than 2013’s total industry index.

While it’s true that growth slowed somewhat from 2012 to 2013, the best news is that the Exhibition Industry’s Overall Index is forecasted to double in2014, and stay significantly above that level in 2015 and 2016.

Weakness Continues in Four Sectors

Education and Government sectors still show sustained weakness, which hardly constitutes a surprise, as the federal government continues to struggle with spending and downsizing. The Construction sector, especially homebuilders, is still struggling to recover from the very deep recession, and while growth is returning in some markets, there is much room for improvement.

The surprise comes from the slow growth of the Medical and Health Care sector, which still mystifies analysts because population trends indicate more patients in the near future from the Boomer generation. Speculation holds that growth is subdued because providers continue cost cutting in the face of new rules and shrinking reimbursements.

Growth is a Relative Term

Several CEIR sectors are experiencing, or will experience, very strong growth. Here is the list:

  1. Industrial/Heavy Machinery/Manufacturing, Finance, and Communications and IT consistently top the charts for Index growth from 2014 through 2016.
  • Industrial/Heavy Machinery/Manufacturing grew 6.9% in 2013, based on their CEIR Index, and it should achieve growth over the next three years. That’s sustained growth, and it’s significant.
  • Finance and Communications and IT should grow to indexes between 3.5 and 4.6 through 2016. That’s significantly higher than last year.
  1. Sports and Travel will see growth between 3.8 and 4.0 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
  2. Food turned up the heat with significant CEIR Index growth last year. It’s projected to drop significantly in 2014 and should see good growth return 2015-2016, but not at the breakout level of 2013.
  3. Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, and Business Services will also expand at different times during the next three years.
  4. Four CEIR sectors grow all three years of the forecast period (Business Services, Consumer Goods, Food and Industrial/Heavy Machinery/Manufacturing).
  5. Eight sectors grew two out of three years, tapering in 2016 (Consumer Services, Finance, Industrial/Heavy Machinery/Manufacturing, Communications and IT, Medical and Healthcare, Raw Materials and Science, Sports and Travel and Travel and Amusement).

Click here to order your copy of the 2014 CEIR Index report and check out our easy to read and review infographic below.

2014.07.08 CEIR Blog_Recovery Graphic

Is your industry on the rise or decline? How do you plan to use this information to your advantage? Share your plans below.

Sponsorship Innovation: How We Increased Revenue by 30% in One Year Reply

By Warwick Davies

Recently my sales team and I were tasked to help raise the revenue figure for an event. The World BPO/ITO Forum, which is in its seventh year of operation, was looking for new ideas to expand their sponsor base and increase the number of targeted leads for the sponsors. When considering our options and ideas we took into consideration sponsor needs: branding and lead generation.

Our top 5 ideas resulted in a 30% year on year revenue increase and satisfied sponsors.

1) One-on-One meetings with key decision makers

A key benefit for our top-level sponsors included a 15-minute, face-to-face meeting with up to four decision makers from Fortune 1000 companies. We found the decision makers, organized the schedule and provided the time and place for this exclusive meeting. Because of the high-level of the decision makers and the quality of the leads, our sponsors valued these meetings at $3,000-$5,000 per consultation.

2) Speed Networking

We converted a plenary session of the conference to a speed networking session for one hour. Sponsors hosted the tables and we cycled buyers through the tables. The sponsor got a chance to meet people (in a managed way) who may not have stopped by their booth in the exhibit area creating both branding and leads.

3) Hosted Conference Sessions

Co-marketing an event with a key sponsor builds client satisfaction, high visibility for the sponsor and increased leads at the event. Poland, a top, event sponsor, was open to the idea of working together. We brought their hosted session, originally to be held off-site at the Polish Consulate, into our event. Locating the event within the conference allowed people to attend without traveling. The result: A packed room and a happy customer!

4) Matching Software based on LinkedIn

We started Presdo Match, one month before the event. Uploading all the attendee data and auto loading everyone’s LinkedIn profile as attendees registered made this process quick and easy, and the result was fantastic! Our clients were given an opportunity to network before, during and after the event and the utilization rate surpassed 60%!

5) Sponsored Webinars

Sponsored webinars are a potent tool in sending a targeted message to your client. This tool allows a company to cover key information and benefits in a short time frame giving their customer base all the information they need to make their purchase decision: value, quality and benefits. Brighttalk, a self-service style webinar software, allows a company to easily set up webinars with sponsorship opportunities. This software also has an added benefit: it can be used as a lead generator for the conference. These quick, 20-minute sessions assisted in building attendance and making our sponsors very pleased.

These five innovative ideas created a 30% year-on-year revenue increase and satisfied sponsors. We’ll have to sharpen our pencils to get those kinds of results again next year!

Warwick Davies is the Principal of The Event Mechanic!, a consulting company which helps event organizers realize greater revenues and profits by improving existing events and launching new ones . His clients include event organizers in the information technology, healthcare, biotechnology construction and design engineering and executive event markets. Previously, Warwick was responsible for internationally recognizable event brands such as Macworld Conference and Expo, LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, and the Customer Relationship Management Conference and Exposition worldwide.

Do Exhibitions Give the Gift of Time? Reply

By Dr. Jeff Tanner, Professor of Marketing
Baylor University

Maybe, in general, we all want what the boss wants – nice corner office, a sporty German convertible, a weekend cottage in the Caymans…more time.

Everyone is time-starved but executives? Maybe more so. One of the great values of exhibitions is that this form of face-to-face marketing enables shopping in a time-efficient fashion. Over a decade ago, one corporate buyer told me “Two years ago, I managed a staff of eight to do what I do. Last year, it was down to four. This year, it’s just me and an admin, and I’m not sure who will be gone next year.” The reality of having to accomplish more with fewer people continues, and attending exhibitions is one way that today’s executives cope. But when it comes to exhibitions, what executives want isn’t necessarily the same as everyone else because how they shop for solutions is a bit different.

Further, how they vet exhibitions isn’t exactly the same. Top executives are much more interested in personal recommendations and invitations. Ago Cluytens, who manages the EMEA business for the training organization The Rain Group, agrees.  He says that top executives are biased almost to the extreme by whether or not you (or your event) come introduced by someone else. Attract and engage one executive and you’re likely to draw several more.

In a study funded by CEIR, Nancy Drapeau and I surveyed over 400 exhibition attendees, and in the report Attendee Preferences by Job Title, we document many of the differences between how executives, upper management, middle management, and lower management select and use exhibitions.

And while there is always a natural tendency to look closely at top-level executives as important to any purchase decision, many markets are comprised of lower or mid-level managers. In our study, we identify several important opportunities for attracting and retaining these lower and mid-level managers’ attendance, as well as engaging them once they are at the event. What they want, and need, is different but they are also more likely to report that their needs aren’t being met as frequently as do top executives. Too much attention paid to top executives could lead to loss of engagement with other key influencers in a market.

While marketing may have changed dramatically in many ways over the past decade or so, some basic principles have remained the same. Find out what the market wants and give it to them. People engage with your marketing communications because that engagement fills a need. Yes, exhibitions solve everyone’s need for time-efficient shopping. But how the boss goes about it is, well, a bit different.

2014 CEIR Predict Takes on New, High Energy Format Reply

By Mary Tucker
CEIR Blog Manager

On 11 September, CEIR will hold its fourth annual exhibition industry outlook conference: Predict at the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago. Predict has established itself as a key event for C-level executives who want to have a very reliable idea of what the next three years hold in terms of the economy, the industry, and how they interact, and formulate their strategic plans around that forecast. The focus point will be the CEIR Index and, in particular, the 2014 CEIR Index Report: 2013 Results,which provides an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry by measuring year-over-year changes in four key metrics: NSF of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and total event gross revenue. It details performance for 14 industry sectors and the overall industry using data from 2000 through 2013, with a predictive forecast through 2016.

What makes this year’s Predict different is the energized, fast-paced format it will take on – that of an action-packed, financial news show featuring lively interviews, substantive conversations and provocative discussions, providing economic insights and new perspectives about the exhibition industry. This year’s host is Ron Insana, senior analyst at CNBC and financial industry expert, who will apply his journalistic perspective to how Wall Street, Main Street and Washington shape what the new “normal” means for all of us. He is a financial journalist who stands alone among his peers in having the experience of working for and running his own hedge fund, which allows him to offer clear, unvarnished insights on the ever-changing status of the economy.

More details are available at the Predict website at Registration is now open with early bird registration ending 31 July.

How CEIR Positively Impacted Exhibitions Day Reply

By Susan Brower, CEM
Vice President, Marketing & Communications

This week, more than 100 attendees participated in the industry’s first Exhibitions Day in Washington, D.C. and its collaborating organizations – CEIR, IAEE, EDPA, ESCA, IAVM, SISO and U.S. Travel Association – concluded its initial success and lasting impact. As with any legislative fly-in, there were key issues that were discussed with elected officials. Attendees focused primarily on the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, a bipartisan issue that would leverage the benefits of inbound international travel to the United States to increase economic growth, create more jobs, generate additional tax revenue and boost U.S. exports. The economic contributions of the events and exhibitions industry – and in turn, the country’s competitiveness in this space – are at risk if government restrictions on travel into the U.S. are not reduced. Exhibitions also create employment opportunities for those in the traditional workforce as well as audiences outside of the traditional local workforce demographic, such as seniors, students and secondary income seekers.

JOLT’s major achievements include:

  • Expanding the Visa Waiver Program beyond the current 38 countries, by updating eligibility requirements to allow more travelers from countries closely allied to the United States to travel into the country without a visa for stays of 90 days or less.
  • Facilitating the use of secure remote videoconferencing technology for visa interviews, and reduce visa wait times by implementing a fee-based premium processing service for interview appointments and aim to interview applicants within 10 days of application receipt.
  • Expanding the Global Entry program that expedites entry for preapproved, low-risk international travelers.

After a lively orientation with the delegations conferring and planning their scheduled day on the Hill, attendees set out to ask their elected officials to include JOLT in immigration reform and co-sponsor the bill which will positively impact the exhibitions and events industry.

CEIR research was the backbone for the key discussion points between legislators and constituents. For example, CEIR has found that there are more than 11,000 exhibitions conducted in the U.S. every year, attracting nearly 2 million exhibiting companies and 68 million business professionals to business-to-business exhibitions. Additionally, CEIR has found that attendees spend an estimated $44.8 billion at U.S. events while exhibitors spend an estimated $24.5 billion each year. CEIR has found the economic impact of the U.S. exhibitions industry to be substantial with more than $79.3 billion directly contributed to the GDP in attendee and exhibitor spending. These are just a few of the hard statistics that attendees used, and without the essential research from CEIR, Exhibitions Day would not have been as impactful as it was.

Here are compelling statistics on how exhibitions are used by organizations to drive their businesses:

Exhibitions are highly valued to address priority marketing objectives that mean business:

  • Build or expand brand awareness (82 percent)
  • New product or service promotions and launches (80 percent)
  • Brand awareness reinforcement (86 percent)
  • Promotions targeting specific business sectors (73 percent)
  • Existing product or service promotions (72 percent)

Exhibitions are highly valued to address top priority sales objectives that mean business such as relationships management and engagement support with:

  • Existing customers (77 percent)
  • Prospective customers (80 percent)
  • Key accounts (78 percent)
  • Generating new sales leads (77 percent)

Driving Motivators – Don’t Disregard Research Reply

By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP
CEIR Managing Director

The American Society of Association Executives Foundation, in conjunction with Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research recently released a research paper, Current and Emerging Trends of Tradeshows, An Assessment of Stakeholders’ Preferences. The paper examines the core reasons for both attendees and exhibitors participating in trade shows and what their motivations are in attending.

Not surprisingly, the findings of this research project align with a CEIR omnibus research project with Dr. Jeff Tanner, a professor of marketing, What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions. The ASAE research was focused on shows attended by association organizers, while CEIR’s research included both association and independent organizers. ASAE’s study shows that attendees are motivated by learning and exhibitors are motivated by the potential of doing business. Yes, we already know this is a fact.

The ASAE study did reveal a few nuggets including that location is important. A recently released study by CEIR, Stopping Attendee Loss concurs with this finding on the attendee side. Both audiences in the ASAE study assigned high value to an event being held in a large metro area or a midsize city within the U.S. An area for opportunity is looking at international destinations. Some might say that their association’s mission is focused on the U.S. and their members are not interested in events outside the U.S. What about members outside the U.S. – either current or prospective? It is a missed opportunity.

This was also reinforced at last week’s Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum during a session examining opportunities for attracting attendees from Mexico to shows in the U.S., and cloning an event in Mexico. Using an audience response system, the overwhelming majority of executive level attendees (primarily associations in the DC area) responded that their association is not looking outside of the U.S. Both the ASAE study and CEIR’s studies note that the preferences and motivations of both attendees and exhibitors are changing. This is essentially a disruption in how trade shows have traditionally functioned. We must be adaptable to avoid irrelevance.

How to Pack a Punch When Exhibiting 1

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

When exhibiting, is it enough to buy space, put together a booth and show up? Well, chances are, that will not be enough. Efforts are needed before the event, on-site and following the event to maximize results.

Before discussing what type of on-site activities will help boost the impact of exhibiting, let’s first itemize some basic “must do’s”:

  • Choose where to exhibit wisely. Does it have the right attendees? Are they a good fit in terms of delivering the prospects for one’s organization?
  • Once an exhibition is selected, are goals set for exhibiting? Are metrics put in place against these goals to evaluate the success of exhibiting?
  • Are pre-event promotions undertaken? Has messaging gone out to pre-registrants when a list is available – or better yet, a list of the specific categories of attendees – one most wants to reach? Are marketing efforts undertaken inviting known prospects, encouraging them to attend the exhibition and visit one’s booth? Invitations from exhibitors are a highly regarded information source that helps influence attendees when deciding whether to attend an exhibition, according to CEIR’s report on Attracting Attendees.
  • What efforts are taken to follow-up with leads captured at the exhibition? How quickly is follow-up taken? For insights on common practices and what is considered most effective, take a look at the report, Sales Lead Capture and Follow-up Trends.

Ok, assuming all these basic steps are followed, what on-site marketing activities at the exhibition help maximize the impact and success of exhibiting?

  • An absolute necessity is assuring that one has a listing in the exhibition program. In Attracting Attendees, it is found that most attendees, 94%, engage in some kind of pre-event planning. Over half, 56%, search the exhibitor directory to help identify booths to visit.
  • What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions reveals that top ranked important reasons why professionals go to exhibitions are to keep abreast of industry trends and have a chance to talk with industry experts. Therefore it is not surprising in the study of exhibitor on-site marketing practices that the most effective activity in helping exhibitors achieve their goals is speaking at an educational seminar/workshop. What a great way to project one’s organization as a thought leader by running a session. In the report Exhibitor Ancillary On-site Marketing Practices, 71% of surveyed exhibitors indicate doing this and among those who do, 86% say this effort is effective in helping them meet their overall goals for participating. Pretty compelling results.
  • This report provides insights on other commonly used on-site marketing activities and perceived effectiveness in helping exhibitors meet their goals. To read the full report, go to:

Hosted Buyer Programs That Work Reply

By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP
CEIR Managing Director

Each year I’m impressed by two organizers who have very successfully fine-tuned a hosted buyer program – IMEX Group, which organizes worldwide exhibitions for the incentive travel, meetings and events industry in Europe and the USA, and Reed Travel Exhibitions, which organizes exhibitions for the same market in the U.S., Europe, China, and India. Both have created a model that seems to work.

In a report from the CEIR study on the Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction, only 32 percent of attendees and 25 percent of exhibitors report participating in a hosted buyer event in the past two years. The perceived value of participating in a hosted buyer event is not as strong as it is for traditional business-to-business exhibitions. In looking out to the next two years, only 27 percent of attendees who have attended such an event report that hosted buyer events are expected to increase in value compared to 43 percent of professionals who have attended a traditional business-to-business exhibition. The same holds true for exhibitors, only 21 percent of exhibitors at hosted buyer events anticipate the value for these events will increase in value while 37 percent of exhibitors at business-to-business exhibitions expect value to increase.

Research by the American Society of Association Executives Foundation offers insights on the perceived lower importance of hosted buyer events. In a study in conjunction with Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research recently released a research paper, Current and Emerging Trends of Tradeshows, An Assessment of Stakeholders’ Preferences. The paper examines the core reasons for both attendees and exhibitors participating in trade shows and what their motivations are for participating. The ASAE paper noted that respondents, even if they attended more than one hosted buyer event, rated this type of event a low importance attribute, 17th of exhibitors and 14th among attendees.

The two hosted events I am most familiar with – the IMEX and Reed events – provide for small group conversations/presentations, yet according to the CEIR study when given a choice, neither exhibitors nor attendees rank this type of face-to-face interaction as their first or second choice, 11% and 17%, respectively. One-on-one demonstrations with exhibit personnel are most preferred, 86 % by exhibitors and 76% by attendees. Yet, because of the sheer size of hosted buyer events, one-on-one conversations are difficult. Both the IMEX and Reed events have surrounded the exhibition with education, which is highly valued among attendees.

IMEX attributes 12 years of ideas to its success. Reed Travel Exhibitions has been conducting hosted buyer events the longest. Perhaps the smartest thing both of these companies did was to collaborate with industry organizations around the world. Both have also situated education developed by these industry organizations around the shows.

Industry collaborations, along with education, and even more importantly highly qualified buyers seem to be the recipe for success. The exhibitors value this high density audience, even though the cost of exhibiting is substantially higher than traditional business-to-business exhibitions. They must see the value and achieve their ROI or they wouldn’t be back year after year.

I’m interested in hearing from attendees on their points of view on hosted buyer events, and of course from exhibitors on the value versus the traditional event.

How to Stop Attendee Loss Reply

By Warwick H. Davies

As most event organizers know, the top three problems in the business are (in order): attracting attendees, attracting the right attendees and making a profit. It behooves the event organizer, therefore, to understand why attendees do and don’t attend their events.

CEIR has just published a report covering the outcome of not managing these top three event objectives entitled How to Stop Attendee Loss, written by Jeff Tanner and Nancy Drapeau. The report specifies the reasons why attendees no longer attend some of the events they previously did. What is interesting to me is that the common thread through all the reasons was the lack of perceived value and relevance of the particular event to the former participant; and what is particularly worrying to me is the increasing number of senior executives and decision makers who are actively cutting down the number of events they attend annually. The research included 421 responding active conference attendees across 14 industries, so it sounds as if Jeff and Nancy have nailed a phenomenon to which all of us should be paying more attention.

What is the remedy for re-attracting past attendees? In my experience, the event organizer having issues with attendee loss has almost always lost touch with the key buyers of their events – especially not knowing what is “keeping these attendees up at night.” If the organizer is aware, it is not either actively programming or designing events around these issues, i.e., the event has not stayed relevant in the marketplace.

In any case, awareness of the problem is the first step in improvement, and this report does a good job of highlighting the likely causes. The next step is rolling up your sleeves and reconnecting with your targeted audiences, and that is as easy as picking up the phone…

Warwick H. Davies
The Event Mechanic!
11 Wyman Road
Lexington MA 02420
T: 781.354.0119

Serendipity Reply

By Bill Sell
Director of Event Development, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Serendipity. It’s one of the greatest benefits of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions. According to, Serendipity isan aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident,’ and business-to-business exhibitions do this very well.

Think about a printed magazine. Want to read the article or see the ad on page 36, you can flip the publication open right to that page and skip everything before. But at an exhibition, if you are looking for ‘booth 36’ you need to actually walk by all of the booths leading up to that location. Is there a chance of finding some interesting new products or suppliers? Serendipity!

Attending conferences also plays well with serendipity – ever sit in a conference and not make eye contact or talk with others in the room? Face-to-face events have so many advantages over online-only programming or print content. The recent CEIR Changing Environment of Exhibitions Study looks at many unique benefits over other marketing or sales channels.

The study indicated 61% of executives surveyed feel face-to-face offers them the ability to see a large number of prospects and customers over a short period of time. If attendees plan their trips properly, then appointments are made in advance. Getting together with prospects who are usually tough to reach by telephone or in person in their offices, are all part of this same unique benefit of face-to-face events.

To make your face-to-face events more productive for your constituencies, push planning ahead. In your promotion campaigns for your events, keep suggesting that your exhibitors contact clients AND prospects in advance of heading out to the exhibition. These appointments still might not happen (people frequently miss at-show appointments), but being able to reconnect while still onsite at the event will improve the perceived results of the exhibition for both exhibitors and attendees.