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PredictExecutives in the exhibitions and events industry and the financial community came together to discuss the economy and its impact on the business of face-face-events at the inaugural CEIR Predict Conference in New York City on September 15. The overall consensus among the speakers was that despite a tough economic outlook, the exhibition industry remains a strong and viable vehicle for most industry sectors.

“We had high expectations for the first CEIR Predict, and by all accounts from attendees, we met those expectations,” said Galen Poss, event chairman and chief operating officer for dmg::events. “Based on feedback from the CEIR Board of Directors, the first year was a success, and I am excited they plan to repeat the event in 2012.”

Kicking off the day, John Walker, chairman and founder, Oxford Economics, presented a timely global perspective, sharing his analysis of the current economy outside the United States. Walker discussed how the sluggish economy in many countries is impacting the rest of the world, a result of the global stock market, the tsunami in Japan, commodity prices and declining business confidence. On a positive note, he does not expect a recession in Europe.

Shifting to the domestic economic situation, Dr. Jeffrey Werling, University of Maryland, Department of Economics, shared his expert analysis of what it would take to jump start the U.S. economy. In his view, stimulating job growth is key to a turnaround, and he predicted that we will not see much improvement until after the 2012 presidential election.

Dr. Werling, along with Dr. Allen Shaw, chief economist and president, Global Economic Consulting Associates, are economists for the CEIR Index. Dr. Shaw provided an update of the CEIR Index, which tracks the health of the exhibition industry using data collected from events. He announced a 5.4 percent increase in attendance during the first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

According to Dr. Shaw, attendance is a leading indicator of recovery. He noted the Professional Business Services, Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Outputs, Communications and Information Technology and Transportation sectors are performing well. Traditionally, the Building, Construction Home and Repair sector signal an end to most recessions; however, based on the expertise of CEO, National Association of Home Builders Jerry Howard, and President and Secretary, Association of Equipment Manufacturers Dennis Slater, it is unlikely that there will be drastic improvement in this sector in the near future.

The international marketplace continues to be a bright light for the exhibitions industry, and attendance from international visitors remains strong at U.S. based events. However, in his keynote address, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, expressed concern over visa barriers that deter travel to the United States and impact the exhibition and events industry. Mr. Dow outlined the aggressive advocacy efforts that U.S. Travel is conducting on the Hill to institute visa reform in order to facilitate easier travel into the U.S. and create 1.3 million new American jobs. The U.S. travel industry generates $1.8 trillion in economic output and supports 14.1 million jobs.

“Our goal with the Predict conference was to provide exhibition and event organizers with the information they need to plan and forecast their events,” said Douglas L. Ducate, president and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. “The high caliber of attendees spoke volumes about the program being presented, and we were thrilled to have such an outstanding line up of speakers who delivered insights and perspectives that will guide our industry executives in their decision making process.”

In a lively discussion about the future of the exhibition industry, the overall perspective presented was that the value of exhibitions is on the rise. Speakers included:

  • Thomas Kemp, chairman and CEO, Northstar Travel Media LLC
  • Richard Mead, managing director, The Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc.
  • Chris Motl, senior vice president, Webster Bank
  • Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence LLC

Executives representing major business sectors shared their viewpoints and experiences.

  • Mark Carr, president North America, Europe and Australia, dmg::events
  • Skip Cox, CEO and President, Exhibit Surveys Inc.
  • Roger Dow, president and CEO, US Travel Association
  • Lenny Heymann, Executive Vice President and Group General Manager for UBM TechWeb
  • Gerald Howard, CEO, National Association of Home Builders
  • David Loechner, president, Nielsen Exhibitions
  • Don Norman, economist and council director, Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI
  • Bob Priest Heck, executive vice president, The Freeman Company
  • Dennis Slater, president and secretary, Association of Equipment Manufacturers
  • Alan Steel, president, George Little Management
  • Nancy Walsh, executive vice president, Reed Exhibitions
  • Dean Ungar, equity sector senior analyst, UBS

  • Momentum Management
  • Hill and Partners
  • ETA Transportation