2015 Predict_FB

2015 CEIR Predict Wrap Up

CEIR Predict header_w_title-sponsor

We just completed Predict: CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference 16-17 September in Chicago, IL and we’re proud to say that this was our largest Predict ever!  It drew a record-breaking 139 attendees, all top level executives, to learn about the future of the exhibition industry.

If you didn’t make it to 2015 CEIR Predict, here are some of the highlights. Don’t forget to watch the wrap-up video on CEIR TV!

16 September

The event started with a welcome from Britton Jones, President & CEO, Business Journals Inc.

2015 CEIR Predict Britton Jones

In addition to evaluating happenings within the exhibition industry, Predict looked outside of the industry for overall economic trends and indicators. Keynote speaker Professor Amir Sufi, Ph.D., University of Chicago & Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research pointed out that a weak recovery in household spending and the persistent issues presented by income inequality will continue to affect the overall economy and, in turn, the exhibition industry.

The day ended with a facilitated panel discussion on the state of the exhibitions and events industry moderated by Nancy Walsh, President-North America, Reed Exhibitions

2015 CEIR Predict Panel 2

17 September

Industry insiders presented topics on notable trends within the trade show industry and how they will affect the way in which organizers approach their strategies for increasing their exhibitions’ performance, sessions included:

What We See – Change! by Marc Pomerleau, Vice President of Strategy, FreemanXP

Design the Desired Outcome by Bruce Mau, Founder, Bruce Mau Design

Innovating Brand Activation at Trade Shows Moderatored by David Saef, EVP, Strategy & MarketWorks, Global Experience Specialists (GES)

Business Models of the Future: A Group Discussion Moderatored by Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence LLC

Even though the two-day event was jam packed with important information regarding the state of the industry, there was still time for discussion and networking between sessions.

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What were the final thoughts about CEIR Predict?

Buffy Levy, Director, Event Services, SmithBucklin said, “This was my first time attending the CEIR Predict Conference, and it was an excellent opportunity to gain further insight into my industry. My best takeaway was how important it is for show organizers to think about our product not as booths, but as experiences, touch points and memories that are made at an event. To succeed, we first need to listen to and empathize with our stakeholders. Then, we must design the show not from our own point of view, but that of our users. By doing all of this, we ensure our shows stay relevant and serve as bedrocks of their respective industries.”

Deirdre Flynn, CFSP, Executive Vice President, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers said, “The information shared at Predict – by speakers, panelists and peers – is thought-provoking and inspiring. It’s a great opportunity to listen and learn, and create shared experiences for our stakeholders!”

Galen Poss, CEM, Vice Chairman, dmg::Events said, “This year’s CEIR Predict Conference was outstanding! The quality of speakers, content and delegate participation were at all-time highs. It is hard to imagine that anyone attending did not feel they had made an excellent investment of both their time and resources. Hats off to all who made this year’s event an overwhelming success.”

A very special thank you to our speakers and wonderful sponsors for making the event possible!

Visit the CEIR Predict website to learn more about the annual event. You can also view our program, speakers, sponsors, and list of the 2015 Attendees.

Event Data: Iceberg Right Ahead!


By Eric Misic
VP of Business Development
Bear Analytics, a data analytics provider to the exhibitions industry

Data is a valuable asset for many organizations in our space. Our industry is buzzing with talk about “Big Data” and event organizers have never had more data at their disposal—from app data, to session scans and traffic flow, to social media.

Despite Big Data’s current “moment in the sun,” many of us are still guilty of making event and business decisions based on gut instinct, superficial statistics or established pathways. Analyzing data can be time-consuming and complex, while cleaning and standardizing our event data never seems to make it to the top of the to-do list. However, decisions based on gut instinct or historical precedence can harm an event and rob your team of the intelligence they need to take your event’s performance to the next level.

At Bear Analytics, we liken this to an iceberg scenario: While gut instinct, precedence, and historical analysis may give you an indication of a problem your event is facing, the majority of the issue still lurks beneath the surface. Without this deeper level of event intelligence, the decisions you make could steer your event to safety, but are more likely to put you on a collision course with issues you cannot even see.

For example: An event organizer sees the same familiar faces from their industry year after year, and since their topline attendee count is growing slightly, they assume they have low attendee churn and stable retention. However, an in-depth analysis of their entire attendee base reveals that beyond this loyal, visible minority of attendees, 75% of attendees only come to the event once and never return. This high churn rate places additional pressure on the marketing team as they are always making first-time sales and trying to source new prospects—the event’s growth is not sustainable. These insights lie beneath the surface of standard “top-line” event metrics and gut feelings, but could drastically change the strategy behind the event’s operations, marketing, and content.

Analyzing your event data is worth the effort and can lead to richer intelligence and insights in many different areas, such as:

  1. Identifying Your Most Valuable Customers
    Can you quickly identify your most valuable customers? This is the group of attendees or exhibiting companies that forms the core of your event. They return year after year and probably spend more per year than first-timers and other less loyal segments. You can empower this group to act as your brand ambassadors and incentive them with loyalty programs that recognize their contribution to your event.
  2. Understanding Geographic Trending & Event Pull
    How does your attendee or exhibitor make-up shift if you hold the event in Philadelphia versus Orlando? This comparative geographic intelligence is critical for events that rotate around the country. Even events that stay put can benefit from understanding how their attendees’ geographic makeup may shift over time. This intelligence helps better target marketing and sales efforts and can inform venue selection and forecasting future events.
  3. Creating an Abandonment Snapshot
    Churn is a necessary evil for events. But have you analyzed these attendees or exhibitors abandoning your event? Patterns in event abandonment can inform your strategy. If you see that exhibitors who abandon disproportionately hail from the same section of the industry, it may indicate that industry dynamics are affecting your event and that your sales team will have to implement creative strategies to mitigate this trend. Likewise, if a certain seniority level abandons your event at a faster rate than everyone else, it may be time to realign your marketing or to evaluate your educational content.

Aside from these three areas, there are many other actionable insights that can be gleaned if you dive beneath the surface of you event data “iceberg”. Ahoy event data ahead!

For more information on how exhibition and event organizers are using data to drive decisions, check out CEIR’s reports available at the links below:

Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers Case Studies

Millennials Are Value Driven Shoppers, This Plays Out in the Exhibition Industry

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

A recent AdAge article reported Walmart is the favorite retailer among Millennials, based on Infoscout data on purchase activity. This article quotes Walmart’s CMO Stephen Quinn admitting, “That kind of shocks a lot of people, including inside the company.”

The value-driven shopping nature of Millennials is not a surprise to me. It is consistent with research CEIR has conducted this year with young professional exhibitors, 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study. In this study, the top ranked reason why young professional exhibitors have advocated not exhibiting is due to their perception that it cost too much, 44 percent of those who have been involved in such decisions. And other top ranked reasons for advocating not exhibiting also speak to the importance placed on value based spending: perceptions an event has poor attendance quality or low attendance volume.USLaborForceByGeneration

Young professional exhibitors by no means are negative about the exhibition channel, quite the opposite, nearly all surveyed young professional exhibitors find that exhibitions deliver unique value that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing or sales channels. The most popular aspects speak to the ROI, the ability to achieve multiple sales and marketing objectives in a compressed time period: engaging face-to-face with customers and prospects; engaging with a large number of a target audience in a compressed time period; as well as interacting with a wide variety of players including suppliers and others.

So organizers need to pay attention to this focus on value-driven purchasing NOW. This is not something that is a distant, future consideration. It is already the case that Millennials and Gen Xers surpass Boomers as the largest generations in today’s workforce. Their preferences are already beginning to drive exhibiting decisions and this influence will only grow as Boomers exit for retirement. The oldest Millennial is age 34 in 2015, an age when a professional can very likely serve in a managerial or executive role who makes such decisions.


To access CEIR’s report, go to 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

Brian Casey Interview at ACCESS – Insights on Current and Near-Term Trends

Take a moment to hear CEIR CEO and President Brian Casey, CEM share his insights about the outlook and trends for the exhibition industry at last December’s EDPA annual meeting, ACCESS.

EDPA – Brian Casey, CEM President & CEO, CEIR – Interview at ACCESS2014

Brian’s comments shared at that time about the anticipated performance of the industry are affirmed by the newest CEIR Index, released on April 13, 2015. To learn more, download the newest CEIR Index.

Millennials are the future of the exhibition industry, Brian shares some key traits to pay attention to when looking to accommodate young professional attendee needs and preferences. To obtain a fuller understanding, pull down the full reports here:

2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study

Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees

For those who want a complete perspective of young professional needs and preferences, take a moment to access the newest generational research completed by CEIR with young professional exhibitors: 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

Advice from a Leading Data Analytics Expert on Where Organizers Need to Focus Efforts

Jeff ‘John’ Tanner, Jr., Ph.D. and author of Analytics and Dynamic Customer Strategy
Dean, Strome College of Business, Old Dominion University

Dr. Tanner, a noted expert in the field, offers advice based on his extensive research on trends in the use of data analytics in business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing. His clients include major companies including IBM, Pearson-Prentice Hall and Cabela’s.

When it comes to analytics, does it really matter whether your data is big or small? Or does it matter whether you have the right data to make the right decision when you need it?
Rather than worrying about whether data are big or small, what most marketers should take away from the three Vs of Big Data are:

  • Data, if available, can support more decisions (Variety)
  • Data, if available, can accelerate decision making (Velocity)
  • Data, if available, can add value (Volume).

Don’t worry about whether your data are big or small; rather, think instead about the three Vs as benefits of data-driven decision making.

But take note of the caveat: If Available. If you don’t have the data available at the time of decision making, you don’t have time to get the data.

That’s why a sound data strategy is necessary before you need the data. And to start, let’s consider how you use data.

Decision makers use data for three things:

  1. to identify problems or opportunities,
  2. to make decisions, or
  3. to gain insight

Most organizations stop at #1 – if you think about traditional reporting systems, all they tell you is that things are either working or they’re not. The real value of data, though, is in making decisions and gaining insight.

For example:

I worked with Cabela’s on a project involving cart abandonment on their online store. People would fill up a shopping cart at Cabela’s online store and then not purchase it. We used data in two ways. One was to determine whether there were products with a greater likelihood of purchase if they went into the basket first – we looked for the opposite of cart abandonment. This exercise then gave us a list of products to promote, which resulted in a 400 bps improvement in margin while also doubling revenue compared to the usual marketing campaign. That’s using data for decision making.

Then, we dove deeper into the data in order to understand why things happened as they did. This insight then gave us ideas for additional opportunities. But here’s where the strategy came in. We already had significant data on households so we were able to do the data mining that made insight possible.

What about this example can apply to your exhibition?

No matter the environment, retailer, business-to-business exhibition organizer or otherwise, the principles of a data strategy are the same.

First, get your data together. The biggest challenge I see in using data for decision making is that the data is scattered in different systems. People won’t share data and companies are slow to build the data warehouses necessary to bring the data together. Executives, though, who see the power in data can make this happen. To help them see the power in your data, find out the questions they want answers to and illustrate which ones can be answered with a single complete view of your customer.

Second, define your data. A master data definition table tells you what data you have, the source, and what it means. For example, define “customer.” In some organizations, an attendee customer in the data is the individual and sometimes it is the decision location, not the individual registrant. The individual registrant is then linked to the decision location. In other settings, an attendee customer is a member to the association who is an attendee to an exhibition though may be a buyer of other non-exhibition offerings such as online webinars, education only conferences, emedia or print publications among other offerings. Such definitions are important for linking transactional data (How big is a customer? Depends on how you define customer.) and other forms of data.

Note that this language should be agreed upon across units, for example the group which manages exhibitions and the group which manages conferences. There’s nothing worse than an argument in a meeting only to find out the argument was all semantic.

At this point, you’re ready to begin using data for insight and decision making, much as we did at Cabela’s. But you’ll quickly figure out that there’s data missing. Now you can put into place data capture tools and processes to fill in those gaps.

For example, you might find that you need to add fields to your attendee registration system for all exhibitions, which might also then require adjustments to other non-exhibition events or conferences that are run or managed by your organization. You may also find that you need to add fields in the CRM system so that you can test different approaches to attendee marketing campaigns or to tighten campaign management and develop a lead nurturing system or an approach that achieves a higher pre-registration show up rate. With data, for example, you can determine whether a pre-show invitation that was opened not only predicted show attendance but was also predictive of post-show engagement. Documenting the effects of each interaction helps optimize the value of each marketing event.

Many organizations have adopted a “collect everything, sort it out later” mentality. That’s fine early on. As you gain experience, however, you’ll recognize which data is more important. Keep in mind that while data storage may seem relatively cheap, the cost of acquisition (especially if that involves customers giving up data) is not always insignificant. And remember, data needs to be maintained, kept current.

The goal is to have an intelligent conversation with your customer through all channels. Your data helps your marketing listen and respond. Thus, as your data strategy matures, those opportunities for capturing important pieces of information about the customer can be recognized and leveraged.

And that means thinking about all sources of data. When you talk with a friend, you aren’t just listening to what is said. You’re also reading body language, taking in contextual cues, and much more. New sources of data can give you those contextual cues. For example, Marketo salespeople use LinkedIn photographs to determine how to first contact a potential prospect. If the person is smiling, reach out one way. If not, use a different approach. How did they learn? They did so through using data for insight.

Your data may never meet the definition of Big Data. But who cares? What’s really important is that you leverage the data to make better decisions faster.

If you are interested in learning more about how business-to-business exhibition organizers are using data analytics today, two new CEIR reports are now available:

Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers Case Studies

If You Are at EXHIBITORLIVE Next Week, Join Me If You Can!

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

I look forward to attending and participating in EXHIBITORLIVE! next week. It is always a privilege to conduct sessions with the high caliber brand marketers who travel to this event.

Next week’s lectures will focus on two important topic areas:

Do You Have a Digital Playbook for Your Exhibit Program?

This session looks at trends and approaches to integrating digital into an exhibit program. Adam Polaszewski, my colleague and co-presenter always brings great energy and passion to this discussion.

Align Your Face-to-Face Interactions with What Attendees Value Most

This is a topic area where exhibitors can never rest on their laurels, as it is important to keep a pulse on attendees’ most urgent needs and assure the exhibiting approach is positioned to hit their value meter. Doing so creates that opportunity to connect, converting a lead to an interested prospect and ultimately sales. This year’s session evaluates attendee needs in general as well as young professional needs and preferences. What I love about this session is the brainstorming element, where brand marketers share their experiences and ideas on how to ramp up their game. It is a fun way to take advantage of face-to-face interactions, and the power in learning it can deliver!

So if you’re at the EXHIBITORLIVE next week, come join me at one of the sessions. Or visit the IAEE booth, at 1709.

Also, we will be releasing a new report, The Marketing Spend Decision, at EXHIBITORLIVE on Tuesday morning. Stop by the EDPA booth (#859) or the IAEE booth (#1709) for a copy of the Executive Summary of the report.

Or if you are in between sessions and are on Level 3 on Monday, come visit me at the Smart Bar between the hours of 10 am and 11 am.

Top Five Reasons Why Young Professionals Offer Exhibitions an Exciting Future

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

CEIR research with young professionals suggests an exciting future awaits business-to-business exhibitions and exhibitors that deliver the content they crave. Here are the top five reasons for this position:

POE 14.02 Figure 18Reason #1: Young professional attendees have a strong connection to the exhibition channel, 98% identify one or more high value takeaways from attending.

The most popular takeaways reflect the best of what exhibitions have to offer: keeping informed of leading trends/new products; gaining a deeper understanding of available products/services; interacting and seeing a wide variety of products and meeting with a large number of vendors in a short time period.

Reason #2: Most professionals who attend an exhibition plan to visit again. 93% say it is likely they will attend exhibitions in the next several years.

Reason #3: When it comes to walking an exhibition floor – it’s all about engagement. Young professionals are accustomed to immersive, interactive face-to-face entertainment settings. Those who walk the floor want to engage with the product (80%), booth staff (84%), and the booth offerings (87%).

Reason #4: Mobile devices are a broadcast media boon opportunity for organizers and exhibitors. Half come armed with their mobile device to help them record and process what they are experiencing. The most popular activity is taking pictures to look at or share with others.

Reason #5: Like attendees in general, young professionals come to shop (86%) and learn (83%), and they also attend for the EXPERIENCE (67%). The emotive aspect of attending is important, 44% of young professionals seek inspiration and motivation to help them advance their organization’s and personal career objectives. This quest is a call to action to organizers to step it up and assure content delivers on this goal.

There are many more reasons why young professionals’ wants and preferences speak to a bright future for the industry. Click here to download the full report.

To read about what organizers are doing to attract and retain young professional, click here.