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EIC releases Best Practice Guide for event metrics

The Exhibit Industry Council (EIC), comprised of five major tradeshow industry associations, released its latest best practices document at the HCEA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 28. The Validated and Meaningful Event Metrics: Best Practice Guide suggests that the U.S. tradeshow industry should adopt a tradeshow rating system, much like the one used in Europe.

The guide states that exhibitors need meaningful, independent, third-party validated marketing data to guide them as they make decisions about which events provide a sufficient return-on-investment for their marketing plan. In order to select appropriate events, exhibitors need objective marketing data that is comparable, within industry segments, from one event to another. This data helps exhibitors make informed marketing decisions while selecting the event and also informs them of anticipated outcomes based upon investment levels.

Some U.S. tradeshow companies are already on board with this latest best practices guide.

NuVista, a direct supplier of installation and dismantle labor and audio visual services for the tradeshow industry, already offers services to its clients that help them complete a cost analysis on where they are spending their event budget.

“We have to justify every dollar billed to them now mainly due to the fact that they are getting extremely vague and unpredictable pricing from their general service contractor exclusive services such as drayage, electrical, rigging and cleaning,” said Amanda Helgemoe, CEO and owner of Nuvista. “They are not getting a reasonable response from the general service contractor so they look to us to help them.”

Helgemoe believes that third-party audits would have an immediate, positive effect on the industry.

“Our exhibitors would have the knowledge they need to make intelligent decisions about which shows to attend,” said Helgemoe. “This will put exhibitors in a better position to meet their marketing and sales objectives, which will encourage them to continue exhibiting.”

Her view falls in line with the main objectives of the EIC guide, which are:

  • To increase exhibitor value and improve the effectiveness of face-to-face tradeshow and convention marketing efforts, a vital component of exhibiting companies’ marketing mix.
  • To advocate for the provision of meaningful and validated event metrics, which will aid in the exhibitor’s event selection and/or event investment decisions.
  • To advocate for the establishment of a standard measurement index (or indices) that will enable an exhibitor to compare the prospective marketing value of one event to another.

With an industry-wide adoption of providing third-party metrics to exhibitors, the current event selection model used by most show organizers would also change.

The current model is one that requires an exhibitor reserve space at next year’s show during the current year’s event. While this process works for organizers, it would be too soon for the exhibitor to make that choice.

“Audited numbers allow us to make better decisions when making investment and selection decisions,” said Glenda Brungardt, tradeshow and event manager for Hewlett Packard. “It is not only about the size of presence but the investment in the types of other activities we would use to engage with the attendee. It also gives the show manager instant credibility with me.”

The EIC is calling for a standard measurement index that will align tradeshows and events with other marketing media. Television, radio and digital media all have these standard indices in use.

These standard indices include a Marketing Index that would reveal the marketing reach of show participation, an Exhibit Hall Traffic Index that would measure the value of exhibiting based upon total attendance and a Purchasing Power Index that would reflect attendee budgets to buy products and services.

The EIC believes that after these numbers are delivered to exhibitors, show management could change their pitch from “you’ll be conspicuous by your absence” to something more compelling like “how would like to gain access to the $50 million in purchasing power present in your product category at our show each year?”

Helgemoe also thinks exhibitors would respond to these numbers.

“I can’t imagine that they would not at least consider (exhibiting) if they could depend on a budget and depend on attendance demographics and numbers,” she said. “As a business owner, whenever I am faced with spending marketing dollars, I need answers to basic questions such as how much is it going to cost and who do I have the potential of seeing. These are questions that go unanswered at this time in our industry.”

Another key ingredient to this new, universal rating system lies in its consistency.

“Having audits in place for all shows would be assurance to us that we would have consistency in data we get from show management and then how we used that data would be consistent as well,” said Brungardt. “As for a better return-on-opportunity, having the validated information ahead of time would help us in making our participation decisions for a certain show – and the better the data – the better our ability to align our presence and this should lead to better results.”

The EIC believes that an independent, third-party show audit and rating system is going to help the financial future of the face-to-face events industry, and all interested parties should be requesting the data from show organizers. General contractors, exhibit houses, third-party contractors and exhibitors all need to take an active role in validating show outcomes.


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