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Attendees flock to tradeshows in 2011



Attendees rush into the central hall from the grand lobby at the 2011 International CES.

The anonymous quote, statistics can be made to prove anything, could easily be applied to the tradeshow industry in the early months of 2011. Could attendance numbers from a few random conventions signal a rebound for the industry? The answer: Either the U.S. population is showing an enhanced interest in poultry, Macintosh computers and textiles, or the tradeshow industry is off to an excellent start in 2011.

In fact, the industry actually got off to that good start at the end of 2010.

On February 10, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced that preliminary data collected for the fourth quarter of 2010 revealed an increase of 5.4 percent over 2009 for attendees.

But wait, there’s more …

Also according to CEIR, the positive trend of attendees actually began in the third quarter of 2010 with a 6.6 percent increase over the third quarter of 2009.

Getting back to the present, so far in 2011, industries ranging from water recreation to musical instruments have seen increased participation from attendees.

Although attendance was strong at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) compared to its 2009 edition, exhibitor participation was still lagging behind. Managers of the annual Las Vegas technology extravaganza were optimistic in 2010; however, saying now that attendees were back, the exhibitors would follow in 2011. They were right.

Held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, January 6-9, the 2011 International CES attracted 2,700 exhibitors from across the globe compared to 2,500 in 2010. Preliminary figures also indicated that around 140,000 industry professionals attended the show compared to 126,641 last year. That was an increase of 10.5 percent.

If statistics about consumer goods aren’t enough to signal a recovery in the convention industry, perhaps a record number of attendees for a tradeshow about tradeshows will offer more proof.

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) announced in January, that its 55th Annual Meeting, Convening Leaders, set a new attendance record with 3743 meetings industry professionals taking part in the conference from more than 40 countries.

Of those attendees, 3524 sampled PCMA education sessions. Both 2011 figures surpass all previous attendance numbers.

“We could not be more thrilled with the attendance for Convening Leaders, for both the face-to-face, as well as the virtual meeting,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO.

A young 2011 also brought increased attendees to other tradeshow as well, which should be music to the event industry’s ears.

The 2011 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show reported 90,114 registered attendees, a three percent increase from last year and a new attendance record for the 109-year-old show.

Numbers for last year’s show was just over 87,500 attendees.
“This year has been crazy—from the moment the doors opened we have been busy,” said Rob Cunningham, Planet Waves product specialist at D’Addario & Company, Inc. “It’s been a constant flow of people and business is great.”

Outdoor enthusiasts have also been heading indoors to visit tradeshows in 2011, not that they had much choice with the harsh winter in the Midwest and East Coast.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the 2011 boat show season has started off with crowds exceeding last year’s attendance numbers.

In a report published by Trade Only Today, a marine industry news website, the Atlanta Boat Show, which was a four-day event this year, down from five last year, saw a one percent increase in attendance from 2010 despite a late opening because of a snowstorm.

The NMMA said 24,122 people attended this year’s show, which ran Jan. 13-16.

The Chicago Boat, RV and Outdoors Show, which ran Jan. 12-16, reported attendance was up 12 percent, with 32,069 people attending the event. The Kansas City Boat and Sportshow, which took place Jan. 13-16, saw a seven percent increase in attendance, with 26,335 people attending the show.

At the Minneapolis Boat Show, which ran Jan. 19-23, organizers reported a 26 percent increase in attendance from 2010. The event drew 31,054 people.

“There are clearly more consumers hitting the boat show this year,” said Bryan Seti, national marketing manager for Yamaha’s WaterCraft Group. “Many of these people have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the absolute best time … if sales at the shows are any indication; they are quickly finding out that the time is now.”

Getting back to the statistics argument, it is easy to use numbers about electric guitars and speedboats to prove that conventions have made a comeback, but what about chickens?

The 2011 International Poultry and International Feed Expo drew over 20,000 industry leaders from all over the world. This statistic represented a more than five percent increase from 2011. In addition, the show had over 900 exhibitors, a nearly 12 percent increase from last year.

Statistics could also suggest that the U.S. population must have suddenly realized clothing is very important in 2011.

The 2011 edition of Texworld USA showcased 147 exhibitors from 13 countries and welcomed 2,741 attendees, representing an increase in attendance of 11.2 percent over the January 2010 show.

At Texworld USA, attendee numbers are measured in unique individuals; therefore, each attendee is only counted once no matter how many days they visit the show.

“The record attendance we achieved at last week’s edition of Texworld USA confirms growing interest in the show,” said David Audrain, president of Messe Frankfurt USA.

So far, the numbers don’t lie. In the infancy of 2011, the International CES, the poultry expo, the NAMM show and the Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis boat shows have combined to attract about 30,000 more attendees than last year.

Statistics can be used to prove anything, even if it is the truth. The tradeshow industry is indeed looking good in 2011.



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