If you want to know the state of the face-to-face industry, go right to the source, the executives that host meetings, conferences and events. More than 2,800 face-to-face industry professionals attended the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) 2010 conference and expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, August 21-24.
According to ASAE administrators, attendance was up overall and exhibitor participation held steady compared to last year’s event in Toronto, indicating renewed optimism in the face-to-face industry despite the unfriendly economy of the last couple years.
The final attendance included 2,856 executives compared to 2,183 in 2009; 1,894 exhibit personnel, compared to 1,798 in 2009 and 772 other participants, including guests, spouses, press, volunteers, vendors and staff; compared to 920 in 2009, for a total of 5,522 attendees, 200 of which were virtual attendees.
John H. Graham IV, CAE, and ASAE spokesperson, told members of the media that executive attendance was higher than anticipated and that the buyer to seller ratio was 60 to 40.
“The numbers from the 2010 Annual Meeting are very encouraging not only to ASAE but to the entire association community,” said Graham. “We believe the positive growth is a good sign that associations and the entire nonprofit community are slowly rebounding from the down economy. This doesn’t mean the tough times are behind us, but it’s a promising indicator that we’re trending in the right direction.”
A total of 439 companies exhibited at the 2010 event compared to 436 in 2009. Exhibit square footage totaled 73,300 net square feet, up 100 feet over last year.
“A lot of exhibitors, at least after day one, were telling me they were very excited about the traffic and interest they were getting,” said Graham. “This has been a very good meeting for us from a number of perspectives.”
Michael Krouse, senior vice president of sales for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau (LACVB) said his exhibit staff interacted with guests from start to finish on both days of the expo. He added, it helped that the LACVB was the host this year and that its exhibit was front and center at the exhibit hall entrance.
“Overall, the feedback we heard from other exhibitors was positive,” said Krouse. “Attendees in our booth were upbeat. I thought I would be hearing more negative comments about how bad our industry is. People are saying it is time to move ahead and to look at what is positive about the industry right now. Meeting and conferences are being booked, but they are coming in a different wrapper than in the past. Meeting executives are concentrating on managing expenses … ways to do more with less.”