International Association of Exhibitions and Events' Expo! Expo! Sees 3-percent Attendance Uptick

December 10, 2013

This year’s International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo! Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Houston reflected the overall continued optimism in the trade show industry, with 2,047 trade show organizers and suppliers  flocking to the city for the three-day event.

The unaudited attendance numbers indicated at least a 3-percent attendance jump, compared with last year’s numbers.

There also were 250 exhibitors, representing destinations, general service contractors, event technology, transportation and many other supplier categories on the showfloor at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

As the showfloor opened and crowds of people perused the aisles, IAEE Chairman Jason McGraw looked around and said, “There’s a really good feeling and overall optimism in the industry , a good buzz. That energy is translating here to the Expo! Expo! showfloor.”

David DuBois, IAEE’s president and CEO, agreed and added, “It’s really over the top.”

That positivity also was reflected in not only the attendance numbers, but also the fact that exhibit revenues this year were up 16 percent and sponsorship revenues were up 26 percent, Dubois said.

“I had senior executive from a supplier company tell me there is a buzz at this event that hasn’t existed in a while,” he added.

The event kicked off the night before with a fireworks display over the George R. Brown CC, followed by a party filled with food and music.

The next morning keynote speaker Larry Winget, who is called the “Pitbull of Personal Development” and is a five-time Wall Street Journal/New York Times best-selling author took the stage.

He said he was anything but a motivational speaker, and instead, encouraged people to take personal responsibility in their lives and start enjoying themselves.

Winget also said that even though there were at least 500 books on the ‘secret to great customer service’ it was actually really simple: “Just be nice!”

The event was filled with education sessions, including CEM courses and overall topics that ranged from “The Next Generation of Female Leaders” to “Why Event Marketers Need to Think Like Content Marketers” to “Is the US Convention Center Model Broken”.

Every year, IAEE teams up with the Society of Independent Show Organizers for an invite-only session. This year’s session was moderated by dmg :: events’ Galen Poss. “The Social Community – Friends or Foes for the Exhibition and Event Producers.”

“I think (social media) is the most exciting and scariest thing that I’ve encountered in my career,” Poss said.

Among other important topics discussed, Marketing Design Group’s Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes disagreed with the idea of having just one person dedicated to doing the social media outreach for an organization.

“Everyone should be trained on social media on your team,” she added. “It’s something that they should all have in their toolkit.”

Experient’s Shawn Pierce said that all events need to have a social media program. “This tool is a direct interaction with our community,” he added.

When Poss asked about measuring the ROI of social media, Maria Palombini from Summit Professional Networks said, “You really should be asking, ‘What’s the value of not having it? Do you want to be perceived as not being cutting-edge?’”

Looking into the future, Dubois said he was grateful to have the support and collaboration of the IAEE Board of Directors to be able to continue to evolve the organization through international expansion, offering more educational opportunities and overall membership support.

“We’re a $5 million business that were continually looking to grow,” he added.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.