Center for Exhibition Industry Research Report: Spending, Marketing Mix for Attendee Promotion

May 7, 2014

For every, single show, organizers have to evaluate not only how they are going to spend their dollars to draw people there, but also what methods they will use.

In the latest in its series of reports, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research examined spending and the marketing-mix allocation for attendee promotions and marketing tactics found to be most effective in driving attendance at exhibitions - Cost to Attract Attendees.

Exhibition organizers use a broad range of traditional and digital tactics to attract qualified attendees to their events.

E-mail still reigns supreme, with 96 percent of the survey respondents indicating it was part of their marketing plan. Contrary to popular beliefs, direct mail marketing isn’t dead either, with 94 percent of the respondents saying they still used it.

Other methods of attendee marketing included Print Ads (79 percent); Social (68 percent); Online Advertising (64 percent); Exhibitor Complimentary Tickets (48 percent); and Telemarketing (42 percent).

On the bottom of the list of choices were TV, newspaper and radio advertisements.

Though the mix of tactics varies, email (26 percent) and direct mail (30 percent) take up more than half of available attendee promotion dollars.

All other tactics are allocated 10 percent or less of available funds.

In terms of overall attendee promotion spend, which includes marketing expenditures only and excludes labor and overhead expenses, the median amount spent for a given exhibition is $75,000 or a median cost of $20.10 per verified attendee.

Even though the survey indicates that total attendee promotion spend increases as attendance increases, there appears to be a reduction in the cost per verified attendee, with the larger the number of attendees that come to an event.

However, with events attracting more than 10,000 attendees, this reverses again and the cost per verified attendee goes up, according to the survey results.

The marketing mix also varies depending on the size of the show.

Events with the fewest attendees rely more heavily on e-mail, while larger events rely more on direct mail.

Events with greater than 4,500 attendees allocate more of the budget to social media and trades for lists or free advertising.

Events with 4,501 to 10,000 attendees allocate more of the budget to mobile, text messaging. Other than these differences, the percentage allocation to other tactics is consistent across attendee volume categories, according to the report.

It’s not surprising that the report found that shows spend a much higher amount if they are attracting international attendees as well.

The median attendee promotion spend for local/regional/state events is $43,462 or $18.00 per verified attendee; national events spend $55,000 or $17.20 per verified attendee; and international events spend $142,500 or $22.80 per verified attendee.

Another finding of the report was exhibitions marketing to an international audience allocate more of the promotions budget to print advertisements, while nationally-focused events allocate more to email.

Other findings include that while associations and for-profits have similar average budgets for attendee marketing, for-profits spend per attendee is higher, because association shows typically larger in size and attendance.

Lastly, the report also looked at the effectiveness of attendee marketing campaigns.

Traditional attendee promotional tactics are considered to be the most effective methods for driving attendance to exhibitions.

Direct marketing is No. 1, direct mail (87 percent) and e-mail (86 percent). Other top-ranked tactics include: exhibitor complimentary tickets; exhibiting at other exhibitions; telemarketing; trades for lists or free advertising; and other referral, gift or discounts.

Click here to access the full report. IAEE members can access the CEIR library and reports at no cost – a benefit of IAEE membership.

Add new comment

Partner Voices
One of the most iconic names on the Las Vegas Strip just got an upgrade. Mandalay Bay has everything that your business needs from a refreshed convention space designed to inspire productivity and creativity, to an impressive selection of world-class restaurants and amenities. If you're looking for a venue that's both inviting and innovative, you have to be here. New Wave Experiences Mandalay Bay continues to invest in a new wave of enhancements both in the convention space and within the resort as a whole. New restaurant openings including Orla by Michael Mina, drawing inspiration from the award-winning chef’s childhood in Egypt and with flavors and décor inspired by the spices found in markets common to coastal Mediterranean towns, as well as Caramá by Wolfgang Puck, bringing the essence of Italy and spirit of Wolfgang into one concept, are recent additions. The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas also experienced a recent remodel of all 424 rooms. Swingers, a high-end, adults-only golf and entertainment concept will debut in Fall 2024. Enhanced Technology Creating a truly effective conference venue requires careful thought into what a business needs: the right technology, capacity, and inspiration to bring ideas to the next level. As part of the resort’s refresh, Mandalay Bay implemented state-of-the-art technology upgrades, installing cutting-edge Cat6A Ethernet cabling throughout the convention center. This advancement doubles the frequency of data transmission, enabling lightning-fast speeds up to 9400% faster. The convention center now boasts 11 dynamic digital walls, spanning up to 24' x 13', strategically positioned for brand placements, sponsorships and targeted event messaging. Additionally, attendees can benefit from 20 double-sided 55" mobile flexible display units, facilitating effortless navigation to meeting rooms and events. RFID locks were installed on all meeting room doors, and over 200 motion detection cameras have been placed throughout the space. Refreshing New Design & Fine Art The newly remodeled convention space provides a bright and vibrant atmosphere that complements Mandalay Bay's tropical-inspired brand. Featuring white-washed walls and ceilings adorned with bold floral patterns in cerulean and coral tones, the space is complemented by warm walnut accent walls. In addition to the redesign of all pre-function spaces, meeting rooms and ballrooms, Mandalay Bay's 1 million square feet of exhibit space has undergone a rejuvenation, including new paint, covered pillars and relocated strobe lights. Sustainable Spectacles Mandalay Bay is committed to Focused on What Matters and creating more responsible meetings. Refillable water stations all available around the resort, cutting unnecessary plastic usage from single-use bottles. The Mandalay Bay campus’ recent upgrades represent a bold step forward in redefining the Las Vegas experience. With a focus on innovation, sustainability, and unparalleled service, Mandalay Bay sets a new standard for excellence in business hospitality. Whether you're seeking cutting-edge conference facilities, world-class dining options, or simply a luxurious retreat, an unparalleled meeting experience awaits.