Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition Continues Growth Streak in Chicago

June 15, 2014
Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition Continues Growth Streak in Chicago alt

Just halfway through the first day of Emerald Expositions’ Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the Digital River booth already was packed with people and, according to marketing director John Phillips, they also had 500-plus leads in hand.

Digital River did a few things right, including sponsoring the Internet Lounge, which boosted their booth size to 50’x40’ and attracted people that might otherwise not have stopped by, Phillips said.

But the real audience pleaser was a virtual ski slope set up in their booth that attendees could jump on and take a ride down some snowy settings.

“We wanted something that symbolized the speed in which we ca get clients to revenue and market faster,” Phillips said. The idea to have the simulated skiing was born, and Skytec Port helped them set up the experience on the Internet Retailer showfloor.

“We wanted to create engagement in the booth,” Phillips said. Five hundred leads and counting later, and he added they have had a “great response”, so far.

Skiing wasn’t the only activity attendees could take part in at the show. One booth had a golf putting and driving contest, another had two tables set up for attendees to compete for fun in games of Blackjack and several others had other ‘experience’ types of engagement to draw people in.

Overall, the showfloor was packed with about 10,000 pre-registered attendees, 633 companies, a 7 percent uptick compared with 2013, and a sold-out 250,000 square foot showfloor, according to Craig Dooley.

“Chicago is a fantastic city,” he added, “It’s in a really central destination, but just in the U.S., but globally.”

Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition was in the Windy City for its third year, and has signed on through 2020 to keep the show there. “There are very few venues built like McCormick where there is a 6,000-person theater adjacent to a huge exhibit floor,” Dooley said.

The theater was the perfect place for the show’s high-profile keynote speakers, including E-Bay CEO and President John Donahoe and Wikipedia Founder and CEO Jimmy Wales on opening day.

Besides a busy showflloor, Dooley said there also were 130 conference sessions with 220 speakers and six workshops and 10 topic-specific tracks.

“It really does have something for everyone,” he added.

Dooley said the show has grown every year as more people realize that all commerce now really is e-commerce. “We really are in the technology business,” he added.

Joan Dyer, the show’s marketing director, said one of their goals was to make IRCE “more accessible to main street retailers.”

She added that to create ‘buzz’ about the show overall, social media was key. “It’s not just hiring an intern to tweet,” she added.

The show also had a mobile app for the first year by DoubleDutch and achieved an astonishing 3,500 downloads. “We’re really excited about it,” Dyer said.

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