IAEE's Annual Meeting Sees Uptick in Attendees, Showfloor Size in Las Vegas

December 6, 2011

As the nation’s leading trade show destination, it’s no secret that Las Vegas can be a magical place when it comes to increasing trade show participation. This was no exception for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Annual Meeting & Exhibition, held Dec. 6-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The energetic event kicked off Tuesday night with a lively opening party at the Venetian Casino Hotel & Resort, where fire breathers and Cirque du Soleil-style performers entertained a jovial crowd that appeared more than ready to blow off some steam. With a host of after parties and networking opportunities to follow, the first night of Expo! Expo! started the event off in good spirits.

At Wednesday’s Expo! Expo! trade show, approximately 245 exhibitors and a steady flow of attendees mingled on a 39,000 square foot showfloor interspersed with comfortable and stylish lounge areas at which people schmoozed and enjoyed a delicious lunch buffet at the back of the hall.

Stephen Hacker, IAEE’s outgoing president, said of the event’s approximate 2,300 attendees, there were 300 more show organizers in attendance, compared with the year before, when the event drew 1,750 attendees and 245 exhibitors to a 36,000 sq. ft. showfloor in New Orleans.

The increases in size and attendance could be attributed to a number of factors, he added, including an increase in industry optimism recently backed by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s Third Quarter Index report demonstrating the fifth consecutive quarter of exhibition industry growth.

“Anecdotally, throughout the year, we’ve been getting reports about attendance pick ups and record attendance here and there, and the CEIR data confirms that,” Hacker said. “Our show numbers are up because of a combination of things: the improving economy, the improving outlook in the industry, more confidence and the destination – Las Vegas is magic.”

Many show participants said a lot of the show’s magic also had to do with its cutting-edge educational offerings, with 60 sessions covering hot topics, including digital marketing and marketing metrics, enhancing the attendee experience with social media and a new international track focused on global marketplace opportunities.

In his remaining nine months at IAEE’s helm, Hacker says he’ll be focusing intently on sharpening the event’s educational programming, as well as revamping the show’s schedule to promote more quality learning time for participants.

“It’s time to step back, start with a blank slate and achieve our objectives: maximize learning opportunities, maximize ROI for exhibitors in Expo! Expo! and reduce (scheduling) conflict wherever possible … to focus the event on the trade show, learning and networking,” he added. “That’s part of my obligation to the organization … to go out flying with fists and feet and leave my successor with a lot less to deal with.”

First-time Attendee Tonia Miller, CEO of Veer Right Management Group, said education and staying on top of the newest industry trends were the main reasons she had made the trip to Expo! Expo!

“I’m looking at new technology, especially in registration, tracking and QR codes to see what’s new and how they’re applicable,” Miller said. “It’s important with the economy to stay in more touch with what’s happening in our industry. I can’t wait to hear the sessions tomorrow, and if there’s something new I’m going to learn.”

Long-time exhibitor Phil Louis, president of Map Your Show, said that he was pleased with the traffic and the fact that the industry was showing signs of recovery and the event remained one of his company’s key events.

“It’s one of our premier events we participate in because a lot of the key decision makers in the industry come to this show … it’s had that reputation for some time, and it continues to show through that way,” Louis said.

He added, “I always come and try to take back a vibe or a sense of the pulse of what the needs are in the industry right now and what people want you to focus on. It’s one of those shows you have to be at.”

The next Expo! Expo! is set to take place Dec. 4-6at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

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