Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder – Immersive Experiences that Connect Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Director of Research, CEIR

Allie Shaughnessy, dressed as Marvel Comics' character Mystique, attends Comic-Con 2014 in San Diego, California

Comic Con San Diego 2014, Reuters

Just a couple of weeks ago, Comic-Con International 2014 took place in San Diego. During that event, mass media channels of all kinds – broadcast tv, cable tv, multiple social media outlets, print and digital press – were buzzing with images and stories from that event, a veritable candy store of branding impressions. Comic book writers, artists, filmmakers and lots of other players convened with their most passionate consumers, those who take the time to travel to this event from near and far and many who invest time and dollars to become their beloved characters. A community, gathered under one roof, celebrating the industry, seeing what’s new and hot, pre-release promotions of films, a chance to get an autograph from one’s favorite star or even better, getting a selfie with someone famous! The opportunities are endless, and to commune with other like-minded individuals, there’s nothing like it.

This particular franchise of a consumer event, its genesis in San Diego and now having multiplied in a number of metro areas is quite incredible, very flashy and exciting for the consumers that love the genres of entertainment that they celebrate. Some of the pictures of attendees dressed in their favorite comic character costumes may prompt one to scratch one’s head and ask, ‘Why?’ Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder, those individuals are living their dreams, having their memorable experiences that will last a lifetime. Isn’t that what counts?

Isn’t it also the case for business-to-business exhibitions? These are in-person, live events that bring a community together, a venue to convene buyers and sellers of an industry to celebrate the community, see what is new and hot trend-wise and product-wise, a chance to hear from leading experts, a time to convene with likeminded individuals, peers, colleagues, to learn and share with each other. It is a very powerful marketing medium for brand marketers that use it well. And when an event or exhibitor ties event content into integrated marketing efforts, the brand reach and exposure can be quite powerful. Along with the brand exposure, it feeds the essential lead pipeline for organizer and exhibitor, capturing new leads, nurturing existing ones and closing sales for those ready to pull the trigger.

All industries aren’t that flashy, there are a few that I can think of that are and penetrate mass media channels, Consumer Electronic Show and E3 Expo come to mind. Though mass media isn’t penetrated as extensively by NAMM’s annual event, certainly makes a splash with its core audience and does an amazing job bringing the music industry together. There are so many others, I could go on…

So, for organizers and brand marketers alike, what about your approach can be ramped up to give players a chance to immerse themselves, have impactful experiences in a way that makes sense for your industry and will create buzz in your trade media and social media outlets of your participants? Who are the ‘rock stars’ of your industry that attendees are longing to meet? If you’re a brand marketer, who are the people behind the product that would exhilarate attendees to hear from and maybe even meet in person? Is there a team behind a new product launch that can become the ‘rock stars,’ a personification of the product? Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what is the ‘beauty’ that sparks passion in your target attendee audience base? What can you do to bring that to life and give attendees a chance to experience it, a chance to have an impactful, memorable visit?

Here a few CEIR resources that can help you in focusing your exhibition or exhibit to what business-to-business exhibitions hope to experience:

What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions
AMA Educator Conf – Highlights of Key Value of Exhibitions to Attendees

If you have a minute, take a look at a recently released report on Organizer Best Practices to Attract and Retain Young Professionals. This report includes 11 case studies.

Also, here is a resource on what organizers and brand marketers are doing today to integrate digital media into their exhibition marketing:

Digital Playbook (this one is free)

Visit https://www.google.com/search?q=comic+con+2014+photos&client=firefox-a&hs=597&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=6EPhU-mZOouWyASXxIC4Bg&ved=0CCEQsAQ&biw=1392&bih=822 to view photos from Comic-Con 2014 events.

How to Find the CEIR Research You Need Reply

By Mary Tucker
CEIR Blog Manager

Bookmark this post! CEIR’s extensive library offers a plethora of information about exhibition marketing and the value of face-to-face interaction. So much so in fact, that you may ask yourself where to start when looking for CEIR research. What is a POE 14.01 or an AC39.14? Believe it or not, these letters and numbers actually mean something. They represent a series that has its own area of focus, so you can know where to go depending on what type of information you are seeking. But even if you don’t know what series a report may fall under, the CEIR website offers a search tool using key words to search all CEIR reports.

CEIR Library GraphicHere’s a break down of the various categories of CEIR reports:

Power of Exhibitions (PE): Reports detailing decision-makers’ perceptions on the value of exhibitions in the purchasing cycle; focusing on maximizing the role of exhibitions in the marketing mix; discussing how to attract young professionals to exhibitions.

Face-to-Face Marketing Study (F2F): Powerful reminders of why personal interaction in the business world is absolutely critical.

Guru Report Series (G): Simple guides written by industry experts to help exhibiting companies achieve better results and gain value from exhibition participation.

Marketing/Communications (MC): Strategies for effective exhibit marketing.

Sales/Measuring Return (SM): Specific exhibition-related objectives are analyzed and compared to other media.

Attendee/Exhibitor Characteristics (AC/EC): Profiles of exhibition participants.

International Reports (IN): Methods to attract international exhibitors and attendees alike to U.S. shows.

Industry Tools (IT): Exhibition industry market measurements, growth projections and other future insights.

Resource Center Special Reports (RCSR): Focused reports covering a wide variety of industry-related topics.

Influential and Trusted Speaker Line-Up Announced for CEIR Predict Reply

By Mary Tucker
CEIR Blog Manager

2014 CEIR Predict LogoOn 11 September 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, the exhibition industry’s top strategists and influencers will convene for CEIR Predict, a one-day, highly intensive, highly interactive program that takes a hard look at what the industry can expect through 2016.

In addition to a new, journalistic approach (see 2014 CEIR Predict Takes on New, High Energy Format) and cutting-edge keynote presentation (see 2014 CEIR Predict Adds Marina Gorbis to Speakers List), CEIR is pulling from industry insiders to deliver relevant, insightful information.

So far, 19 industry heavy-hitters have been added to the roster for this not-to-be-missed event:

  • Doug Emslie, Group Managing Director, Tarsus Group plc
  • Peter M. Goldstone, Chief Executive Officer, Hanley Wood LLC
  • Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future (IFTF)
  • Kerry Gumas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Questex Media Group LLC
  • Kevin Higgins, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hart Energy
  • Jack Holmes, President, UPS Freight
  • Debbie Holton, Director, North American Events and Industry Strategy, Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • Gerald M. Howard, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Home Builders
  • Wilma Jordan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.
  • H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, President and CEO, HIMSS
  • Carol McGury, Executive Vice President – Event and Education Services, SmithBucklin Corporation
  • Marco Pardi, President, UBM Tech Events
  • Art Paredes, Senior Director of Global Expositions, Semiconductor Equipment & Materials International (SEMI)
  • Gene Sanders, Senior Vice President, Trade Shows, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association
  • Sally Shankland, CEO, UBM Connect
  • Matt Shay, President & CEO, National Retail Federation
  • Ryan Sweet, Senior Economist, Moody’s Analytics
  • Steve Szakaly, Chief Economist, National Automobile Dealers Association
  • Eric Wulf, CEO, International Carwash Association

Predict: CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference will engage attendees by providing a forecast for the CEIR Index’s 14 industry sectors for the remainder of this year and through 2016 based on the 2014 CEIR Index Report: 2013 Results.

Complete profiles of each speaker and registration information can be found on the Predict website at www.ceir.org/predict.

Give Attendees Product Information in the Format They Want! Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

Today, there are movements advocating the elimination of paper entirely from the business-to-business exhibition floor and those advocating the virtues of all things digital. Though when it comes to attendee preferences, what do they want? Well, research suggests that one size does NOT fit all. Providing paper only, post-email follow-up only, USB’s etc. isn’t necessarily going to make every visitor happy.

How-Exhibitors-Share-Product-Info-GraphThe figure above from CEIR’s Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices suggests offering attendees a mix of options to collect product information is wise. These results indicate that a substantial percentage of attendees in general still want paper. That result doesn’t mean that large reams of paper need to be made available as an information giveaway in a booth. Though it does suggest the wisdom of offering some kind of paper collateral piece to give to attendees who would like this option, a piece that will remind them of their visit to a booth, perhaps a postcard or other lower cost item with the key features and benefits of products showcased at the event, pointing them to a URL to access more information or the contact person to reach out to for more information. There are creative ways to satisfy the need for a takeaway item while minimizing collateral expenses and avoiding the exhibition floor trashcan.

Even in the Digital Playbook, it was uncovered that traditional tactics were being reduced, not eliminated from exhibition marketing efforts. One of the most mentioned traditional tactics being reduced is paper collateral. Though again, it’s a reduction, not an elimination. One respondent in this study noted that the flashier, more expensive paper collateral was reserved for meetings aimed to impress a prospective client. So higher-cost collateral pieces can remain behind a counter for the highly-qualified prospects who want that information piece.

Other options do satisfy substantial minorities of attendees, with post-event emails or mailing a printed brochure to them after the exhibition.

Another issue to consider is how effective is each information-sharing option in supporting an organization’s overall objectives for exhibiting? Some methods perform better than others. To find out which options are most effective, take a moment to download the report available at: Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices.

A Few More Notes on the Millennial Invasion Reply

By Mary Tucker
CEIR Blog Manager

Now, before any feelings get hurt, I’d like to note I am using the term “invasion” with a very tongue-in-cheek intent for what latest CEIR research calls “The Generational Workforce Shift.” As CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau pointed out in her July 11 post, The Millennials Are Coming! The Millennials Are Coming! Are you Ready?, today’s workforce is fairly evenly split between Millennials and, well, everyone else. The impact that this is having on how exhibition organizers plan their events is the major focus of CEIR’s upcoming report, Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees, due out in just a few days.

One of the first issues addressed in the report is how exhibition organizers are approaching the young professional’s needs and preferences. Organizers are faced with the challenge of balancing young professionals’ concerns in the overall scheme of things, and results suggest that one size does not fit all.

Regardless of how much an event organizer involves the young professional quotient in the decision making process, the role that technology plays in marketing and communicating to young professionals is undisputed.

Whether your organization already heavily reaches out to young professionals or is just starting the process, it will want to take a look at Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees for information about the marketing and communications tactics respondents have indicated that yield the best results. This report also includes 11 case studies volunteered by exhibition organizers showing the efforts they have made to attract young professional attendees and their corresponding results.

Creativity Leads to Engagement Reply

By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP
Managing Director, Center for Exhibition Industry Research

Exhibition organizers strive for our events to be innovative and relevant to our different audiences. Doing so will hopefully reduce attrition of attendees and exhibitors. I’ve always admired Richard Adler and his BizBash events for their creativity and showing fresh and new ideas each and every year. One of the things BizBash does well is design an event based on the needs of their audience. BizBash draws an audience of meeting planners each year who are looking for new ideas and inspiration.

The showcase on the Expo Floor highlights the latest in trends and ideas designed to create conversations and inspire attendees. We are all thinking about, or perhaps I should say “rethinking,” event design while staying within the parameters of budget and that is where BizBash adds value for attendees. The event shows them “how.”

CREDIT: Jessica LaRoi for BizBash

CREDIT: Jessica LaRoi for BizBash (Archive Vintage Rentals)

In a recent CEIR report, How to Stop Attendee Loss, attendees were asked for reasons why they may not decide to attend. Some of those findings include not enough value for the money and education that did not meet their needs.

Understanding the needs of attendees and exhibitors and designing the event around their needs isn’t some new concept, it’s just one we need to be aware is key for the success of your event.

2014 CEIR Predict Adds Marina Gorbis to Speakers List Reply

By Mary Tucker
CEIR Blog Manager

As CEIR gears up for its fourth annual exhibition industry outlook conference: Predict on 11 September at the Intercontinental Hotel Chicago, Marina Gorbis has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for the program. Gorbis brings an interesting perspective to the information share at Predict because of her background in research related to global economies and social structures.

Gorbis is the executive director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a nonprofit research and consulting organization based in Silicon Valley. In her 14 years with IFTF, she has helped hundreds of organizations in business, education, government, and philanthropy to improve innovation capacity, develop strategies, and design new products and services. Her current research focuses on how social production is changing the face of major industries — the subject of her book, The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World.

Gorbis’ global approach to research teamed with Predict’s main focal point, the 2014 CEIR Index Report: 2013 Results, and new, journalistic format will provide attendees with a well-rounded picture of what’s predicted for the exhibition industry. More details are available at the Predict website at www.ceir.org/predict. Registration is now open with early bird registration ending 11 August.

The Millennials Are Coming! The Millennials Are Coming! Are You Ready? Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

Being a native of New England, I couldn’t help using Paul Revere’s famous reference in calling attention to the major-workforce generational shift that is about to happen in America. Well, the Millennials are already here, though their presence will continue to grow as Boomers exit for retirement. If one takes a look at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breakout of employees in 2013, it is shown that over one-half of employed persons are younger than 45, that includes Gen Xers, who, in 2014, are between the ages of 33 and 49, and Gen Y, or Millennials, who are now 32 and younger. So the generational shift is already in play.

Employed Persons

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS).

If you’re an organizer or an exhibitor, are you taking action to assure that your event or exhibit approach is in line with the needs and preferences of these young professionals? The time to take action is now!

CEIR has resources to help you.

Since 2009, CEIR has conducted generational research. Young professional attendee attitudes and preferences relating to business-to-business exhibitions are profiled in the report, Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century. A follow-up report published in 2010 provides insights and advice on how to effectively market to young professionals: Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century Phase II. Another report evaluates Generational Differences in Face-to-Face Interaction Preferences and Activities.

To keep a pulse on what organizers are doing today to align their event content and marketing practices with young professional attendees wants and preferences, in late 2013 CEIR completed a study with organizers. Keep a watch for the release of Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees in the coming month.

Though the earlier research in 2009 and 2010 holds true today, as young professionals age and move forward in life stages, do their needs and preferences relating to business-to-business exhibitions evolve? And with the ever-transforming digital medium, do these changes have any impact on young professionals’ media habit preferences? How do they impact media preferences to learn about business-to-business exhibitions? And how they want to experience and consume a show?

With funding from the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), a new survey with young professionals was fielded and completed in the past month. A sneak peak of study results will be shared with attendees at SISO’s Executive Conference in Atlantic City next month, and the full report will be made available soon thereafter. Though if you want to be the first to know….. join me at this event!

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.