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Milt Herbert, executive director, Boston Convention Marketing Center, James E. Rooney, executive director, MCCA and Lew Shomer, executive director of the SISO, make a grand entrance to welcome attendees as they kickoff the second evening of the SISO Executive Conference in Boston, MA.

The Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), the association for the for profit show organizer held its annual executive conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) with attendance up by 18 percent over last year.

The board meeting portion of the conference also released a statement declaring their opposition to exclusive arrangements at venues where the organizer, exhibitor and service contractors have no options but to procure all or some services solely offered by the venue and their exclusive vendors. SISO and their other industry associations oppose these practices as being negative to bring business to the venue and the cities in which they are held.


“Requiring organizers to use exclusive services impedes our ability to deliver a competitive return on investment for our exhibiting customers,” said Nancy Hasselback, CEO of Diversified Business Communications and current chair of SISO. “Due to our multiple-event contracts, we have established relationships with respected industry vendors in order to provide high quality service at a reasonable cost to all our stakeholders. When this process is interrupted by exclusive arrangements, it requires us to review our service and pricing to our customers.”

The board of directors of SISO, representing more than 3,500 tradeshows and exhibitions annually, strongly opposes any policies whereby facilities require show organizers to use only that facility’s appointed and exclusive in-house vendors for services that would otherwise be widely available in the marketplace.

“While we understand the need for facility managers to provide a reasonable return to their stakeholders, tradeshow organizers and their exhibitors must retain the right to select vendors of their choice,” said Lew Shomer, executive director, SISO and chairman of Abilities Expo. “Any limitation on their ability to select and have control over the services they pay for directly impacts services and costs to their exhibitors, as well as profit margins to the organizer. We join other associations in their view that exclusive arrangements are detrimental to the city, venue, participants and organizers, and result in an industry wide disquiet that can only harm all concerned.”

Policies through which the organizer is limited in its choice of contracting for services will, inevitably, drive both exhibitor and organizer costs needlessly higher; endangering loss of business to the city and the facility by driving shows to more friendly venues without such restrictions.

SISO considers exclusive services as anti-competitive and potentially in violation of U.S. antitrust statutes that prohibit agreements which unreasonably lessen or restrict competition.

“IAEE applauds the action taken by SISO,” said Steven Hacker, president of IAEE. “It mirrors our own position on exclusive services and reflects the fact in-house exclusive services rarely, if ever, add any value to the exhibition experience, and almost always result in a diminishment of quality and higher prices.”

“The Exhibition Services and Contractor’s Association has always been opposed to any form of exclusivity in public funded facilities and fully supports SISO’s actions against exclusives,” said Larry Arnaudet, executive director, ESCA. “When exclusive in-house services are provided by a venue and not negotiated with the event organizer, the level of service is often lower and the cost for those services is always higher. ESCA urges all users of exhibition and meeting facilities to examine and challenge those policies that restrict their right to select service providers of their choice and prohibit service contractors from providing those services.”

SISO executive conference excels in Boston
More than 150 owners, operators, senior managers, and sponsors gathered at the conference to understand the generational marketing imperative for show organizers, discuss the impact of virtual events on face-to-face exhibitions, listen to registration companies discuss the business model conundrum facing existing registration systems, lead retrieval devices, and the emergence of mobile technologies.

Hosted by The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) and Advantage Boston, attendees were treated to an opening night networking event at Boston’s newest five star restaurant, Towne Stove and Spirits; with an unexpected appearance and food preparation by Chef and Owner Lydia Shire.

Hosted by BCEC and Levy restaurants, the delivery of culinary and interactive experiences bought the networking event to new heights throughout the three-day conference.

The newly modified executive conference was tactical for SISO, adding the element of how-to to their CEO meeting in April.

“I depend on the executive conference for professional education and development,” said Chet Burchett, president, Reed Exhibitions Americas. “It’s a great place for our high performers.”

“The generational marketing portion of the program was fascinating and very insightful,” said Mary Dworin of GLM’s Antique Shows. “While we try to stay on top of our research in this area, I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“Very valuable, great to meet other organizers and content is top notch; definitely something to mark on the calendar for next year,” said Adam Anderson, New Hope Natural Media.

“As my fellow industry service provider colleagues are aware of there is no shortage of organizations, associations and industry events where we can collectively place our sponsorship dollars,” said Arnie Roberts, president, Smart-reg International. “The buzz-word we have all been hearing for years has been ROI. I can quite definitely say my expectation of the degree of ROI I would have received from my SISO sponsorship has been surpassed! If I had to recommend where to put your sponsorship dollars, SISO would be one of the names on that short list.”

SISO’s leadership in bringing together CEO’s and senior management of the for-profit show organizer continues April 10-13, 2011 at the annual CEO Summit in Bonita Springs, Fla., and the executive conference will be hosted by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau on August 9-11, 2011 in the city of brotherly love.

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