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Associations behind big tradeshows

ecn 20th badge_flatThose in the industry know the tick tock of the tradeshow clock is a never-ending cycle of shows across the entire globe.

Ranging in size and popularity, some shows are known only to the specific industries they serve – while others have grown to become international, cross-cultural and multi-language symbols of prosperity. These shows don’t just happen overnight, or happen by themselves. Most have extensive histories morphed from an initial group of founders that are now the associations supporting such shows.

Associations behind the major tradeshows are often made up of hundreds, even thousands of member companies to provide the input necessary to not only pull off the big show, but to be contributors to the industry as a whole. Often electing a board of representatives to lead the way, the associations are responsible for becoming a beacon of leadership, and to provide the information, research and tools necessary to keep up with the latest trends, technology and best business practices.


Put on by the Consumer Electronics Association, International CES has grown exponentially since its 1967 debut.
Put on by the Consumer Electronics Association, International CES has grown exponentially since its 1967 debut.

Consumer Electronics Association – responsible for the International Consumer Electronics Show

With a membership that has quadrupled in the last few years, CEA is made up of more than 2,000 member companies around the world. When the show began in 1967, radios were the main featured product. Now, over 20 major categories are presented by more than 3,200 exhibitors, gathering in excess of 152,000 attendees from 150 countries.

“The key to CEA and the International CES’ success has been its willingness to innovate and grow along with its members and exhibitors,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and Corporate Business Strategy, CEA. “We work hard to determine emerging trends, disruptive innovators and hot product categories and to showcase these trends at CES and across all CEA promotions.

“For example, we highlighted 3D printers five years ago before it became mainstream. We have featured augmented reality technologies and driverless cars for the past several years, showcasing the innovations within these technologies before they hit the mainstream.”

CEA is divided into 10 divisions and councils: Accessories Division; Automotive Electronics Division; Content and Entertainment Council; Digital Imaging Division; Health and Fitness Technology Division; Retailer Council; Small Business Council; TechHome Division; Video Division; and Wireless Division.

With such a rapidly evolving industry, CEA has to be on top of its game, so to speak, when dealing with changes and keeping on top of new technology.

“Membership changes reflect the dynamic nature of our industry and demonstrate our goal to offer member services to companies of all shapes and sizes, across the many technology categories that our members are in,” Chupka said. “In some instances, like net neutrality, we represent companies on both sides of the issue and do our best to keep them both updated on our policy efforts.”

Superhero characters descend on Comic-Con International every year.
Superhero characters descend on Comic-Con International every year.

San Diego Comic Convention – Responsible for Comic-Con International: San Diego
From its humble beginnings, the evolution of Comic-Con International is a classic tale that includes the dream of a few like-minded people wanting to get together with those who had a similar interest. In 1970, that interest mainly focused on comics, but it quickly grew to include the popular arts in film including fiction and fantasy literature.

What started as a one-day minicon at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego on March 21, 1970, drew about 100 attendees and led to the first full-fledged three-day San Diego Comic Con five months later in August. The event featured dealers’ rooms, programs and panels, film screenings and special guests.

The format became the model for comic book conventions held around the country, and the founders – Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger and Richard Alf – laid the ground work for Comic-Con to become the focal point for the world of comics conventions. Today, the event consists of a massive programming schedule with more than 600 special events, award ceremonies, an art show, portfolio awards and guest stars.

Comic-Con has been at home at the San Diego Convention Center since 1991. The San Diego Comic Convention also hosts the Alternative Press Expo and WonderCon, and also runs the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Awards.


Also known as "Motor City," Detroit is home to the North American International Auto Show, founded in 1907.
Also known as “Motor City,” Detroit is home to the North American International Auto Show, founded in 1907.

Detroit Auto Dealers Association, responsible for the North American International Auto Show

Founded in 1907 by a group of five Detroit-area auto dealers who hosted the first Detroit Auto Show for regional dealers the same year, the format completely changed in 1989 when they decided to truly become international.

Leadership within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) decided to approach auto dealers in Japan and Europe and encourage them to become involved by bringing their brands and introductions to the show.

A committee of leaders’ remain to spearhead the initiative of the North American International Auto Show, which has seen more than 18 million visitors and more than 1,300 new vehicles introduced.

DADA continues to support its membership through legislation and industry representation, educational programs and communications and community relations activities.


The largest of its kind, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Tradeshow (SHOT) is the fifth-largest show in Las Vegas.
The largest of its kind, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Tradeshow (SHOT) is the fifth-largest show in Las Vegas.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – responsible for the SHOT Show

The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Tradeshow (SHOT), is the largest tradeshow of its kind and the fifth-largest show in Las Vegas, featuring more than 1,600 exhibitors. Attendance is restricted to the shooting, hunting and outdoor trade, and commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement and tactical products and services only.

The NSSF is the trade association for the firearms industry, with a mission to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports since 1961. More than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers are members.

NSSF represents the industry in local, state and national levels. In the past 10 years, the association has immensely grown its government-relations efforts to result in the legislative success of the industry.


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