Baby Steps Upward for November Shows
Oceanside, CA – Trade show performance in November 2012 was unremarkable from the year before, with the three closely watched metrics of net square feet, number of exhibiting companies and attendance moving only slightly — in both directions. According to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics, exhibit space grew 1.8%, but that was offset by a (1.8)% decline in attendance. The number of exhibitors was a weak 1.0%. Of the 16 events included in the Dashboard, five either grew or held their own in at least two of the three metrics. At the same time, seven shows reported across-the-board declines, including the National RV Trade Show, which at 727,443 net square feet (nsf) was the largest show included in the Dashboard.
For TSE’s analysis, the totals were adjusted to exclude outliers and non-annual events including CAST, FABTECH and Sign World. The adjusted totals for the remaining 13 shows revealed that exhibit space reached 2,656,768 nsf. The number of exhibitors crept up to 7,039 while attendance slackened to 214,137.
Big Shows Dominate
FABTECH was one of five shows on the TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows to take place in November. Nine Dashboard shows topped 100,000 nsf.
Even one recreational vehicle takes up a lot of space so it was no wonder that even with less exhibit space than in 2011, the National RV Show in Louisville was the largest trade show in the November Dashboard. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reported 727,443 nsf of space, down (0.4)% from the previous year. At the same time, attendance took a more significant step back. Attendance was off (6.1)% at 7,658 and the number of exhibitors was (6.0)% lower than 2011.
The stalwart RV industry, however, has rolled on through some tough economic times in previous years, and is not losing faith in the future. “There was a real belief among exhibitors and attendees that the RV industry is strong and resilient, and is well-positioned for future success,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “We still have some challenges in the market, but RV shipments are growing because people love RVs.”
Attendees got more out of the show than a look at the latest products on the market. The show was one of the stops on the RVIA’s Troubleshooter Clinic Demonstration tour, which gave attendees details on how they and their service departments can correct problems that may crop up aboard an RV. A new media advertising campaign promoting RV vacations was also unveiled in Louisville.
- The 2012 Int’l Pool | Spa | Patio Expo made one of the biggest splashes on the Dashboard. The event experienced a heady 27.2% increase in exhibit space, reaching 155,500 nsf. The exhibitor ranks also surged 13.2% to 484. Hanley-Wood held the show in New Orleans for the first time since 2003 and saw its attendance improve 5.0% over 2011, topping 10,000. “We are very pleased with the number of attendees,” said show director Lindsay Roberts. “New Orleans was a real draw for attendees as exhibitors enjoyed steady traffic.” The education program was bolstered by a number of advanced pre-show training seminars offered by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the show’s official sponsor.
- The 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics rode a two-year streak of record attendance into its San Francisco conference and delivered an 11.7% increase for 2012. Exhibit space and the number of exhibitors also improved. Exhibitors grew 15.0% to 215 and exhibit space jumped 13.1% to 30,300 nsf. The society implemented a specific policy on social media asking attendees to refrain from tweeting, streaming or otherwise distributing data from presentations if so requested by the presenter. The obvious risk is that such commentary could violate the embargo policy of scientific journals. Attendees were also reminded before the show to vote early because the meeting opened on Election Day.
- The Private Label Trade Show also reported a record year with 2,285 booths representing 1,080 separate exhibitors, a 5.0% increase over the previous year. Exhibit space grew as well, increasing 3.1% to 229,200 nsf. The crowd was 2.1% larger at 52,980. The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) said it saw a sizable increase in overseas attendees and hosted 15 national pavilions. The top floor of the Rosemont Convention Center was used for Sky Hall, an area reserved for major exhibitors, which the PLMA said had room for expansion in 2013.
Like deep-dish pizza and Da Bears, FABTECH has become a bit of a Chicago institution. The show for the metal-fabricating sector rotates between the Windy City and Las Vegas, where it took place this year.
The differences in the results from 2011 in Chicago and 2012 in Las Vegas were glaring enough that the annual show was not included in the adjusted Dashboard totals.
The 2012 show took up 449,500 nsf, which wasn’t bad, but was a noticeable drop of (11.1)% from the more than 500,000 nsf at McCormick Place in 2011. The exhibitor count slid (8.4)% and attendance was off a harrowing (27.0)% at 35,457. But organizers were not particularly alarmed. Declines were expected due to the distance from the industrial base in the Midwest and thus fewer day-tripper attendees.
John Catalano, co-show manager for FABTECH, said the exhibitors and attendees were pleased overall with the traffic in the aisles and the scope of the exhibit area. “We’ve received great feedback,” he said. “Exhibitors were enthusiastic and report that sales activity was brisk and leads were plentiful.”
The consensus at FABTECH was that U.S. manufacturing was still on an upward trend and good things were expected for the 2013 show in the friendly confines of the Windy City.
Top Sectors and Cities
The RV industry was the largest single industry sector on the November Dashboard. The Annual RV Trade Show and its 727,443 nsf also made Louisville the top host city for the month.
Las Vegas placed second by hosting two Dashboard shows, FABTECH and DEMA Show 2012, which together totaled 575,900 nsf. Orlando ranked No. 3 with the IAAPA Attractions Expo, which totaled 494,770 nsf, a 3.6% increase over the previous year and the largest exhibit area in a decade, according to Chip Cleary, president and CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
The 2012 show calendar came to a close in traditional holiday light fashion. The schedule included the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS2012) and The American Society of Cell Biology 2012 Annual Meeting. The winter car show schedule continues with the highly anticipated San Diego Auto Show.
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