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.

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 www.ceir.org/predict. 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.