Promoters of EXHIBITOR2010 are calling the event a success, saying pre-registered attendance jumped 24 percent over last year’s conference and tradeshow. Held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Conference Center in Las Vegas, EXHIBITOR2010 also played host to about 325 exhibitors, hailing from Brazil, Canada, China, Germany and The Netherlands. Billed as “The World Conference and Exhibition on Trade Show and Corporate and Event Marketing,” EXHIBITOR2010 ended its five-day run March 18.
“We saw 24 percent growth in conference registrations, so we are pretty excited about that,” said Randall Acker, chief operating officer for Exhibitor, producer of the annual educational conference. “None of us expected to see conference growth of 24 percent with the economy we have been dealing with over the last 18 months. This year’s theme was ‘To Defy Expectations’ and that’s exactly what happened.”
Acker added that the consensus among representatives who attended an exhibitor meeting Wednesday was that there were “no tire kickers here,” that buyers brought their shopping lists with the intent to buy.
Although conference promoters claimed there was a 24 percent increase in pre-registered attendees, the Exhibit City News staff was not able to obtain the official count from conference promoters by press time. However, a show press release stated that more than 2,000 of the show’s expected 5,000 attendees would take courses in the conference and that about 33 percent of the conference attendees were candidates for Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) certification. The CTSM program is affiliated with Northern Illinois University.
Brad Montgomery, CTSM marketing and communication director for Accuform and a member of the CTSM’s advisory committee, said he experienced much more energy at this year’s show, compared to last year.
“The conference attendance seemed larger to me and that’s encouraging,” he said.
Business looking optimistic for Exhibitors
Conference instructor Candy Adams, also known as the Booth Mom, had some interesting observations on the overall conference, a perspective that is credible since she has been attending, and teaching at the EXHIBTOR show for 15 years.
“The students were here because their bosses sent them to learn more ways to cut costs, while increasing their return on tradeshow participation,” said Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMM, CMP.
Adams taught 15 classes during this year’s show. She was named one of Trade Show Week’s most influential women in the tradeshow industry and offers companies customized corporate event management services, including exhibit management, staff training, measurement and more.
“I am also hearing from the exhibit houses that the RFPs (request for proposal) are starting to come in, companies (exhibitors) are moving forward, looking to be ready for when the economy turns around,” she said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Another observation Adams shared was a shift in the demographics of conference attendees and exhibitors compared to previous years. Also, those individuals that did attend were the most qualified decision makers who could close a deal and make the most difference in a company’s marketing program for attendees and exhibitors.
“More senior people attended the show, and I don’t mean just senior in title or responsibilities,” she said. “I especially saw this shift in my rookies class. The attendees were actually older. The attendees in my rookies class are usually the puppies in the industry. I want to adopt them, as I am usually old enough to be their mother. This year, however, there were people in my class that were older than me and that is not usually the demographic for the class.”
Adams added there appeared to be fewer exhibitors this year, but she was not surprised, saying that she knew of several companies in the industry that have closed their doors in the past year. Since exhibitors sent only their best people, usually older and higher in rank, she saw less bad boothmanship this year. Fewer exhibitors ate, talked to other attendees, read, sent text messages or talked on their cell phones while they were in a booth.
“I can usually find two or three examples of bad boothmanship taking place in each aisle, but this time it appears they were paying attention to the people in the aisle,” she said. “Have they gotten smarter to know that these are prime hours on the show floor and that reading a newspaper, working on your laptop, or talking on your cell phone is not maximizing the focus for being at the show? I don’t know, but it’s a win for attendees (guests).”
Regarding the classes, Adams said she heard the students were pleased to see how open the speakers were to really give them information they could use immediately, information that could make an immediate impact on their tradeshow marketing programs.
“That has not always been the case,” Adams said. “For example, if a person took eight classes, he or she got something of value out of six of the classes. A lot of speakers come to speak at conferences as a whole for the promotion of their products or services, but this year the infomercials were down and the information was up.”