What’s in the CEIR Research Pipeline? Reply

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

In this blog post, I’d like to share a quick overview of research reports that have been published to date in 2014, and what is yet to come in the next few months. This year’s research schedule is aggressive as we aim to conduct research in a broad range of areas to help exhibitions continue to keep pace with the evolving needs and preferences of exhibitors and attendees of business-to-business exhibitions in particular.

Reports released so far this year are focused  on  assisting organizers and exhibitors in developing marketing and content offerings to align with attendee needs and preferences. CEIR released the estimated total direct spend impact of exhibitors and attendees on the U.S. economy, documenting substantial economic impact:

The new edition of the CEIR Index is now available. It is the leading industry resource tracking overall market performance of business-to-business exhibitions in the United States. It reports on historical performance from 2000 to 2013 as well as providing a three-year forecast. Metrics tracked include: number of exhibitors, net square footage, number of attendees and revenues. No other resource offers such a valuable tool to assist in strategic planning and evaluating business development opportunities.

In the next several months keep a watch for more focus reports from the What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibition series. Additionally, data is forthcoming on benchmark data for organizers and statistics to help sell the value of exhibiting. Insights are also coming soon on best practices organizers are engaging in to effectively market to young professionals. Here’s a list of reports to come:

  • Attendee Preferences by Level in Organization
  • Cost to Attract Attendees
  • Floor Interaction Preferences Study
  • Generational Workforce Shift Study Report
  • Staggering Stats Update
  • Cost Effectiveness of Exhibiting


Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

What’s in the Secret Sauce that Makes Exhibitions Resilient? 1

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC CEIR Research Director

This week the new edition of the CEIR Index was released. Results reveal that the business-to-business exhibitions channel continues to grow incrementally, in parallel with slow growth of the U.S. economy. And growth in the near-term future is anticipated to accelerate. The Index has tracked the performance of the channel since 2000. In looking at the peaks and troughs of the industry, there is a parallel relationship between the exhibition channel performance and US GDP, as shown in the chart below.




History reveals the exhibition channel weathers each economic storm, it recovers when the clouds clear. So what makes the channel resilient, what’s the secret sauce?

Two white papers offer insights on what keeps exhibitors and attendees coming back.

White Paper – Aligning Exhibitions With What Attendees Want Most

Factors Behind the Resiliency of Business-To-Business Exhibitions


The ‘secret sauce’ is delivering the right mix of content and people for both exhibitors and attendees so they achieve their objectives for investing their organization’s money and their time to be there, basically, delivering ROI.

  • For exhibitors, this means delivering the right mix of the brand marketer’s target audience to the exhibition that enables the company to meet multiple marketing and sales objectives with both existing and prospective clients. It is always first and foremost about the quality of attendance.


  • For attendees, this means delivering the right mix of offerings that enable an attendee to achieve multiple shopping and learning objectives. First and foremost, shopping is the primary focus, including interest in in seeing new product technology, interacting with new products and having a chance to interact with the people behind the products. They also aim to achieve multiple learning objectives, both in accessing learning opportunities made available by an event or in an exhibitor’s booth, but also from their peers through networking. Exhibitions that are known to deliver the industry ‘under one roof’ offer the most compelling value proposition.

To obtain specific insights, take a minute to download the white papers above.

To pull down the most current edition of the Index, go to: http://www.ceir.org/store_products.view.php?id=2563


By Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Research Director, CEIR

I was at the Bloomberg Markets 50 Summit in NYC this past Tuesday. It was excellent, providing macro views and insights into market behaviors and the economy in general.

Attending this event made me realize how efficient and productive the CEIR Predict Program Committee was in delivering content for C-level executives of exhibitions to help prepare their business strategies and to position their events for success in light of current and near-term market conditions. It also offered insights for the investment community, for those interested in evaluating whether an exhibition property acquisition is a fit for their organizations.

At the Bloomberg event, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was the closing speaker. Commentary that caught my attention relates to the impending debt ceiling crisis.  Secretary Lew noted that by mid-October, the U.S. government will hit its borrowing limits and will be left with cash only. In a report to Congress a couple of weeks ago he estimated that cash available was approximately $50 billion; however, yesterday he noted that revenues have come in slower and thus the government’s cash position is under $50 billion. The bottom line is that the U.S. government at that moment will not be able to pay all its bills.

Though the government has ‘shutdown’ due to failure to appropriate funds for government budgets in the past, it has never hit the debt ceiling, though it certainly flirted with this possibility in 2011. What a risky way to make history.

Secretary Lew explained that a formal debt ceiling was first established 1917. This action was taken so Congress did not have to approve each request for borrowing, as it had to do prior to passing this law. De facto, today, looks like we are dealing with the challenges experienced by Congress prior to 1917. Well, it is even worse than in 1917. The budget process is already byzantine. It requires setting a budget and then approving appropriations to fund what was approved. Now that we keep running into the debt ceiling, it is a three step process. This is a bit impossible for a Congress that has challenges coming to consensus on most things.

It is a very unfortunate moment if Congress and the president cannot raise the debt ceiling and move on and resolve its differences on spending challenges and philosophies in the normal budgeting process. It will give a black eye to the U.S. government’s reputation of paying its bills.

If this crisis lasts awhile, it will have an impact on the economy and thus the exhibition industry. Thankfully CEIR’s economists closely monitor what happens in Washington, D.C., and the models that are used to forecast the outlook of the overall exhibition industry. They offer two scenarios, one where gridlock in Washington, D.C. continues and one where it is resolved. For those interested in the CEIR Index, visit it by clicking here.

Access to the video interview with Secretary Lew is available by clicking here.

Predict Wrap-Up Reply

by  Douglas Ducate, CEM, CMP
President and CEO

The third edition of the CEIR Predict conference saw more than 150 industry executives spend a day at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City focusing on the outlook for the exhibition industry over the next three years. Discussions were held among some of the largest stakeholders in the industry leading sectors as reported by the CEIR Index Report. The general conclusion was 2013 will not be a very exciting year with just over one percent growth projected for the year. The outlook for 2014 and 2015 is much brighter if some of the more onerous political differences can be resolved on a timely basis without negatively impacting the economy.

The stage was set by Austin Kim, Senior Economist of Bain & Company’s Macro Trend Group . The sector discussions followed throughout the day. His session can be viewed by clicking here.

Two new features were added this year. City Talk was a featured session with the mayors of four major destinations, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston and Orlando. All four demonstrated a remarkable knowledge of our industry and recognized the importance of the economic impact our events have on each destination. In the end they made it very clear we are extremely important to their communities … but we aren’t the only important customers.

A second feature was a luncheon program provided by noted author and lecturer Clay Shirky. Copies of his book Here Comes Everybody were distributed to the audience. Following his presentation, a scintillating conversation between Mr. Shirky and John Graham, President and CEO of ASAE took place. To view Mr. Shirky and John Graham session please click here.  For all other session videos, including M&A session and City Talk, please click here.

Predict Conference is made possible by our sponsors:

Title Sponsors:

  • Global Experience Specialists (GES)
  • Visit Houston

Platinum Sponsors:

  • Freeman
  • McCormick Place/SMG
  • Orange County Convention Center
  • Visit Orlando

Gold Sponsors:

  • New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Reed Exhibitions

Event Sponsors:

  • 4imprint
  • Access Intelligence
  • Ascend Integrated Media
  • a2z, Inc.
  • bXb Online
  • Convention News Television (CNTV)
  • Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • DoubleDutch
  • Experient
  • Georgia World Congress Center
  • Hargrove
  • International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)
  • TVS Design

CEIR Predict – Offering a Crystal Ball to Help Exhibition Senior Executives Succeed Reply

by David Audrain, CEM
President & CEO
Clarion Events North America, Inc

One of the hardest responsibilities we have in the exhibition business is predicting the future.  We constantly have to foresee where our shows will be often years ahead, and that requires economic and market-driven information.

The CEIR Predict conference is a one-day, sharply-focused event for executives with exceptional panels of industry leaders focused on predicting where the exhibition industry is heading, and drilling down into specific industry segments based on their first hand experiences with their own events.  In just one day complete with short, focused sessions, with the leaders of groups such as the Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Home Builders, Hanley Wood, Bain Capital, New York University, to name a few, you will get an industry forecast, and the opportunity to network with many of the leaders of our industry.

To maximize focus, this conference intentionally limits content to specific data and information on the outlook for the economy, the exhibition industry and all 14 industry sectors.  Supported by the data generated in the CEIR Index, this is a must-attend event for any senior executive with an eye to the future of their exhibition business.  The content of the program has been developed by a core group of industry leaders, is fully supported by the CEIR Board of Directors. This is one program that I and many of our peers put on our calendars a year out.  Dennis Slater from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and I will moderate the event, so I can assure you that we will drive the panelists and speakers to deliver the answers on the outlook for their industries.

For more information, and to apply to attend, please go to www.ceir.org/predict.

President and CEO
Center for Exhibition Industry Research

CEIR Index Quarterly Update Reply

Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP President and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research speaks on the First Quarter Index, and tells us about what the results mean for the remainder of 2013. Please click on the audio link below to listen to Doug Ducate’s CEIR Index Quarterly Update.


A Good or Bad Time to Be in the Tech Show Biz? Reply

This post written by Chris Brown,
Executive Vice President, Conventions and Business Operations
National Association of Broadcasters

I wish I knew . . . for sure anyway.

Without a doubt there are some helpful clues in the 2012 CEIR Index Report.  I read the report’s overall analysis and section on the Communications and IT Sector with great interest.  As always, the analysis is extremely well done, comprehensive and insightful.  It is a must read if you produce shows in the tech sector.  Yet, after reading, I found myself still hoping against hope for some magic answer; some pure and definitive answer to the question, “if you want to future-proof your event, what does the data suggest?  What can we expect?”  I think the answer is mostly sunny with some clouds and a chance of light rain.  In other words, we are in good shape . . . but don’t fall asleep at the wheel.

One thing we have all come to live with in the exhibition industry over the last few years is the fact that the job of trying to predict where things are headed has never been tougher (speaking of predicting, make sure you put the CEIR Predict Conference on 12 September in New York on your calendar– it is where all this gets discussed and sorted).  We know our shows are tied to the overall economy and underneath that are the industries that drive our specific events.  The problem is even though here in the U.S. we have survived the terrible recession of 2009 and things are looking up – significantly up in some cases as it relates to certain sectors and shows serving them – it seems to me we are still generally not feeling all that bullish about what is ahead.  At least I don’t see a lot of chest pounding or high-fiving going on anywhere …. and certainly not all that much among exhibition organizers.

There are some positive signs, but there are also some signs that are confusing or even troubling.  The CEIR Index Report cites good news relative to the residential housing market, consumer confidence and spending and a few other key factors that were tied deeply to the recession.  On the other hand, the report also points toward some less than stellar news on the employment side, a variable that has direct impact on trade shows.  It also points out that there is great uncertainty surrounding the policies and effectiveness of our government, something that tends to cause the business community to act with an abundance of caution – not good for show biz, and a factor that hurt our results as an industry in late 2012 and so far in early 2013.

Those of us in the Communications and IT sector know all too well about business cycles.  Most of us rode the big bubble in the late 90’s, and got pounded when it burst in 2000.  We watched a portion of our business not only fall off, but literally disappear. That is sobering.  We took it hard on the chin again in 2009, followed by another body blow in 2010.  The good news is that while the pain we experienced from 2009-2010 was deep, the rebound has been relatively swift.  Most of us saw our attendance recover within a year of the recession and it has been growing ever since, and based on the CEIR predictive data it looks like the growth is likely to continue for a couple of more years.  Led by that positive attendance trend, the Index also predicts that the sector’s growth will outpace the overall industry.  So it appears those of us in this bucket have to live with a bit of feast or famine as it relates to how our events are shaped by broad economic swings.  We can get hit a bit harder when the trend is down, but we also prosper a bit more when the trend is moving the right way.  So with the current trend being up, much of the CEIR Index Report holds good news for the communications/IT sector.  But the aforementioned head-scratcher data points (employment, government policy) also apply.  These could be potential drags.

Layered on all of this is the somewhat unique condition of the Communications/IT sector at the moment; and that is the fact that we appear to be moving through a period of profound change across just about every facet of the sector.  The Internet, mobile communications, telecommunications more broadly, media and entertainment, computing and IT infrastructure – all are converging, integrating, blurring, you name it, and we appear to be approaching an inflexion point where many of the traditional sectors and models will be reshuffled or reinvented.  They may or may not resemble the constructs to which we have become accustomed.  For shows in this space it means that the exhibitors and attendees of the future are not likely to be the same exhibitors and attendees of the present.  This also means that many of the shows that exist today may not exist tomorrow, or will at least look quite different.  The only question is really how quickly this will all take place.

So, what to do? Well, I don’t know about you, but in my world it is always easier to invest when times are good.  Boards, investors, whoever ultimately signs the checks – they tend to be more open to putting money back into the business when they expect the results to be decent.  So, that would suggest that we should take advantage of this relatively stable macroeconomic environment to put some money into our shows.  You might also decide to put some of that money into getting to know your market and your customers better.  Conduct research; get out in the field, rub elbows.  We may not be able to totally eliminate the effect of the next downturn (there will be one), but we can do our best to be driving new audience so that the effect is minimized.  Keep striving to make your show an absolute can’t-miss event.  And, it may be easier said than done in some organizations, but now is not a bad time to experiment; stick your neck out a bit on some bigger ideas and look to build on them, or learn from the experience; fail fast.  If you manage the risk, chances are you can withstand any sort of fallout.

Back to the question laid out in the title of this blog.  Is it a good or bad time to be in the Tech Show Biz?  Again, although elusive, the answer is probably: it is not a bad time …. but it is also not a time to get too comfortable.  Better to continue investing in our shows – build on strengths, correct weaknesses, stay very close to our customers and sectors in general, listen, guide to their needs and serve them.  And if you are launching shows, the tech sector still has terrific upside and not just in the short-term.  There is volatility, yes, but there is also great opportunity as the pace and magnitude of change in the sector opens up niches almost continuously.  You just have to be ready to roll with the punches.

Reverse Sequestration – Lessons for Government Departments on Alternative Approaches to Cost Containment Reply

This post written by Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP
President and CEO

As major exhibitions grow and prosper and generate more and more revenue, it is only natural for organizers to find new ways to spend money. Often these include improving the temporary environment of the convention center and the quality of life of the staff with things like more rental cars, single occupancy hotel rooms, etc. When a downturn hits and there is a need for savings, organizers must react just like the U.S. government departments had to respond to sequestration. The difference is the government didn’t follow our methodology.

When I was General Manger of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) which at one time was the largest annual meeting and exhibition in the U.S., we experienced both the joy of growth and the agony of shrinkage. But we were prepared having produced what we called a three-phase cost reduction plan.

Phase one was eliminating all the excesses no one outside of staff would probably notice. This included staff doubling up in hotel rooms, car pooling to the convention center, reducing the cost of the four- color, pop-up brochures and other fancy promotional tools.

Phase two involved cost-saving steps that those close to the event such as exhibition stand coordinators and organization executives and board members would likely notice. Office furnishings like couches, end tables and lamps and fancy desks and chairs were replaced with draped tables and convention center or contractor chairs. Continuous food service to certain areas was reduced or eliminated. Staff per diems were reduced, entertainment budgets cut and only necessary signs were ordered.

Phase three included items all would notice such as elimination of four language signs, no more draped stages in meeting rooms, elimination of a closed-circuit television program broadcasts to hotels and the hall, and possibly aisle carpet elimination. Fortunately we never got to stage three but we did get to stage two, and our exhibiting companies told us they appreciated the cost reductions they could see being implemented.

If only government departments would have reacted the same way to sequestration. Wouldn’t you have looked at reducing your $28 million travel budget before cutting air traffic controllers? And is furloughing park rangers and closing national parks to the public really the best they can do to reduce park department costs?

But if you were a department head what would you have done? Used the OTC approach and reduced costs on items no one else would even know? Or would you want to send a harsh message to the American people that it costs what it costs, and if you aren’t willing to pay you are going to suffer?

As our nation and the Congress struggle with the consequences of sequestration as it is being practiced, be honest – what would you do if you were in charge? I know what I would do, but I’d rather hear from you first.

For a comprehensive look at the current state of the exhibition industry, with forecasts through 2015 and an alternative scenario should sequestration be eased and/or a grand bargain struck, go to the CEIR Index Report.

Reflections on Impact of Economy, Sequestration on Exhibitions Reply

This post written by Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP
President and CEO


The CEIR Index Report with data from 2012 is now available. After enjoying a strong first half with a 2.5% year-over-year increase that was on target to hit the 2.7% projection for the year, the second half of the year tanked, and in the end, the overall industry only grew 1.5%. Many reasons can be given such as the election that appeared to change nothing suggesting four more years of congressional bickering that will likely continue to stall progressive new programs; the threat of the “fiscal cliff” that loomed as the new year approached; and a dip in consumer spending all likely contributed to business pull backs.

And now we are one-third of the way into 2013 and things don’t look much better. Sequestration was implemented on schedule, and we have no idea how long it will last or how deep the effects will be felt. The debt ceiling issue is looming along with a new federal budget which will likely not be easily resolved. There is the hope of a “grand bargain” that might resolve all three problems but not likely in time to help exhibition performance in 2013. The CEIR Index Report does contain an alternative scenario should sequestration be eased and/or a grand bargain struck.

But regardless of how 2013 turns out, the outlook for 2014 and 2015 is surprisingly robust so the key may be to look to the future and hope for the best.