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Growth in Exhibit Space Stalls; Attendance Remains in the Fast Lane in June

Darlene Gudea
, President

Carol Andrews
, Editor-at-Large

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
August 1, 2013

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Oceanside, CA – Growth in the key exhibition metrics continued in June, although at a slightly slower pace than May.

Exhibit space grew just 0.9% in June but attendance and exhibitor increases were more impressive at 3.2% and 2.8%, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. That compared to the previous month, where exhibit space was up 3.3% from the year before, attendance was up 5.0%, and the number of exhibiting companies was up 2.9%. 

June also wrapped up an encouraging Second Quarter of 2013. The combined growth for April, May and June totaled 2.6% for exhibit space, 1.8% for exhibitors and 4.0% for attendance, basically staying on course with the good growth in the Second Quarter of 2012, in which exhibit space increased 3.4%, exhibitors rose 2.1% and attendance jumped 4.6%.

There were two dozen trade shows surveyed for the June Dashboard, of which four were excluded from the adjusted totals due to incomplete statistics or were outliers with changes of more than 25% in one or more metrics.

Of the 24 shows, 10 were 100,000 nsf or larger. Six of those covered enough ground to make the TSE Gold 100 roster of largest U.S. trade shows. There were also two events from the TSE Fastest 50 list of fastest-growing shows.

Ten of the 24 shows listed in the TSE Dashboard achieved increases in all three metrics while five shows reported declines across the board.

License to Grow

Advanstar Communications had strong momentum behind Licensing Expo, which saw high single-digit growth in all three metrics for the second consecutive year.

Exhibit space led the way with an increase of 9.5% to 218,089 nsf. The number of exhibitors increased 6.7% to 412 and attendance climbed 7.2% to 15,103.

Attendance grew about 6% in 2012, which Advanstar took as a cue to get into position to manage Licensing Expo as a much larger show. The show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas was reorganized into separate areas for four key product categories. More space was allocated to Disney and Nickelodeon, and more lounge areas were carved out as well.

“We saw more attendees than ever before,” said Jessica Blue, vice president of Licensing Expo. “Many of them commented that the show was much easier to navigate and therefore more productive.”

Blue said the larger crowd included more representatives from companies other than toys and clothing, including automotive, gaming and mobile publishing. That seemed to inspire the exhibitors, who booked 70% of the space available for 2014 while still at the show.

Growth Leaders

  • The Sensors Exposition & Conference drew a big crowd to Rosemont, and if the growth of the exhibit floor is any indication, technology is catching up to the future in this cutting-edge sector. Questex Media fielded 21,900 nsf of exhibit space, which was 14.1% over the previous year. The number of exhibitors grew 19.1% to 187, and attendance was up 10.1% at 4,632. The conference section included timely topics such as data mining, energy management and the exploration of Mars. Event Director Wendy Loew said the quality of the attendees was high, which pleased everyone. ”The feedback from the attendees, speakers and exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
  • Western Manufacturing Technology Show (WMTS) grew 18.0% to 37,000 nsf and was 99% sold out by February. Attendance grew 17.8% to 2,434 and exhibitors increased 14.5% to 126. While it is considered a manufacturing show, the event in Edmonton, Alberta is as much an educational and networking event for “job shop” operators as it is a place to look over new products and equipment. “For manufacturers, WMTS is the place to learn, evaluate and compare technologies and solutions on a one-to-one basis,” said Janine Saperson, event manager for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
  • Summer Fancy Food Show returned to its long time home in New York City and put up some pretty fancy numbers. The Specialty Food Association reported a record 354,600 nsf of exhibit space, a 15.5% jump from 2012 when the show took place in Washington, DC. Exhibitors were up 8.7% and the crowd of 24,100 was also the largest in show history. The attendance skyrocketed by 50.6%.

Gold 100 Grind On

The Summer Fancy Food Show was one of several TSE Gold 100 shows to finish in the black in June. The largest show of the month was InfoComm International, which was ranked 31st on the 2012 Gold 100, but saw its exhibit space step back (4.1)% this year to 466,755 nsf. The loss was offset by a 2.5% growth in attendance and a 3.0% jump in exhibitors.

The marketplace strongly supports InfoComm, said InfoComm International CEO David Labuskes, who credited the innovative exhibitors as one factor in making InfoComm a can’t-miss event.

Another show that saw a dip in exhibit space but growth in the other two metrics was E3, the Los Angeles video-game exhibition that successfully repositioned itself from a quasi-consumer fest to a strong b-to-b event. This year saw E3 exhibit space slip (4.6)% to 382,780 nsf. But attendance was up 5.5% to 48,200 and the exhibitor ranks swelled 13.3% to 230. E3 generated 28,000 hotel room nights and nearly $40 million in economic impact for the city of Los Angeles.

The Gold 100 shows that reported growth in exhibit space included Premier Orlando, up 1.1%; The Clean Show, up 2.9%, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, up 6.3%.

Top Venues

A relatively quiet June in Las Vegas shuffled the standings on the venue leader board. Orlando was to the top host city in terms of total exhibit space. Orange County hosted five Dashboard events, including InfoComm International and Premier Orlando, totaling 759,283 nsf. 

Chicago was ranked second with 597,900 nsf. Five Dashboard shows took place in the Windy City, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Los Angeles made the podium in third place with 402,780 nsf, primarily from E3 and 20,000 nsf chipped in by the California Accounting & Business Show & Conference produced by Flagg Management, Inc. 

Next Month

The second half of the year began with the July 4 holiday, which means the trade show calendar for July didn’t kick in until the second half of the month.

The dog days heading into August include the Las Vegas Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, MRket and SuperZoo.

Convention center managers and suppliers will gather to talk shop in New Orleans for the International Association of Venue Managers IAVM Venue Connect.

TSE Data Center