December Shows Experience Slight Growth
Oceanside, CA – Last year wound down quietly for trade show organizers with relatively low growth in all three categories of the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics.
The compressed calendar of trade shows wedged in between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday season had significantly fewer attendees on the road than the nearly 514,000 who had visited exhibitions a month earlier in November, but attendance and the other metrics for the month of December remained in the black compared to the same month in 2012.
December attendance actually could be more accurately described as flat. The total gain was a mere 0.5% above December 2012. Exhibit space increased a modest 1.0% while the number of exhibitors moved up 2.5%.
The adjusted totals for the 16 shows surveyed for the Dashboard (there were 23 shows held in November) pegged attendance at 148,618. Exhibit space totaled 1,608,565 net square feet (nsf) and exhibitors hit 3,937. That boiled down to a per-show average of 11,432 attendees, 114,898 nsf and 262 exhibitors.
Three shows in December were not included in the adjusted totals in at least one Dashboard metric. Two shows were outliers, growing more than 25%. The Running Event jumped more 39.4% in exhibit space and attendance, and the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show zoomed more than 25% higher in all three metrics. A two-year comparison of attendance figures for the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting was not available.
There were five shows in December that featured 100,000 nsf or more of exhibit space compared to a dozen such shows in November. Three of the five shows were large enough to make the TSE Gold 100 rankings of the largest U.S. trade shows. Another show to watch, The Running Event, was part of the TSE Fastest 50 honor roll of fastest-growing exhibitions.
Plenty of Parking
While the Winter storm clouds gathered across much of the U.S., the largest trade show of the month enjoyed pleasant weather in Louisville, KY.
The 51st Annual National RV Trade Show featured the latest in recreational vehicles and accessories, spanning 726,209 nsf at Kentucky Exposition Center. Of that, more than 669,000 nsf was taken up by parked display vehicles and the remainder by 10’x10’ booths.
The exhibit floor was (0.2)% smaller than it was in 2012, reflecting a (2.3)% dip in the number of exhibitors. In 2012, the show was 727,443 nsf and was ranked 15th on the Gold 100.
On the plus side, attendance was up 1.2% over the previous year at 7,751, which sounded a positive note about the prospects for the overall industry. “Everywhere I went, there was a strong feeling that the industry was doing well,” said Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “The RV market is coming back and the key economic indicators are pointed in the right direction.”
The RVIA used the show to release a bullish report on increased RV shipments from factories. The show was also the venue for two well-attended ticketed sessions featuring marketing and sales experts aimed at increasing the salesmanship savvy of dealers in the field.
- The Running Event continues to have legs and will be honored this May as a Fastest 50 honoree for the second year in a row. The exhibit space in Austin broke into triple figures with a 25.5% increase in exhibit space to 118,000 nsf. Exhibitor count was up to 6.1% to 313 and attendance jumped 39.4% to 2,963. Show Manager Troy Leonard and Formula 4 Media maintained their emphasis on courting retail attendees by using the show as a venue for a sponsored awards banquet honoring the 50 top stores in the U.S. for running gear.
- The Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show was back home in Indiana in 2013 and enjoyed three brisk days highlighted by double-digit growth in all three metrics. “It was the busiest PRI Trade Show ever,” said show producer John Kilroy. “Our return to Indianapolis was a spectacular success for our attendees and exhibitors.” Coming back to the heartland of the auto-racing world in the U.S. spurred a 26.5% increase in attendance with 47,441 visitors. Exhibit space surged 25.2% to 342,300 nsf. The 2012 event was 273,500 nsf and placed 66th on the Gold 100.
- The Northwest Mining Association Annual Meeting, Exposition & Short Course was heavy on the educational side. A mother lode of sessions and the geographically convenient location in Reno-Sparks, NV helped drive attendance up 13.6% to 2,500. Exhibit space was 62,500 nsf, which was 21.4% larger than the previous year.
December proved to be a productive month for medical and scientific associations. The Radiological Society of North America Scientific Assembly & Annual Meeting was the largest event with 437,675 nsf and just over 54,000 attendees. The conference usually takes place in November; however the late Thanksgiving in 2013 pushed it into early December. Attendance was basically flat, but international participation was boosted by the 1,000 delegates from France who journeyed to Chicago as part of the conference’s France Presents feature.
The American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans had a 5.7% increase in exhibit space to 123,100 nsf and an 8.7% boost in attendance to 22,369. Smaller conferences by the American Geophysical Union and the American Epilepsy Society reported modest growth.
The National RV Trade Show was enough to make Louisville the leading host city of the month in terms of exhibit space. The show covered 726,209 nsf just two months after GIE+Expo and ICUEE, The International Construction & Utility Exposition had placed Louisville atop the October leader board. Chicago was ranked second with two shows totaling 460,075 nsf. The largest of the two was RSNA with 437,675 nsf. Indianapolis was in third place with the PRI Trade Show and its 342,300 nsf.
January roared in with the blizzard of the year, which caused the usual avalanche of flight delays and cancellations and also some unusually dire warnings from officials about venturing outside at all. The frightful weather steered clear of Las Vegas where the International CES kicked off the year with a bang by cracking 2 million nsf of exhibit space. Las Vegas also hosted the PPAI Expo, Las Vegas Winter Market and the SHOT Show, which under the management of ConvExx for the first time since parting ways with Reed Exhibitions.
“The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Sands Expo and ConvExx worked diligently to provide our industry with the premier trade show in the world,” said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the NSSF, the owner of the show. The NSSF reported 630,000 nsf of exhibit space.
Elsewhere, the North American International Auto Show spotlighted the latest updates to both automobiles and Detroit’s Cobo Convention Center. Finally, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City and the SIA Snow Show in Denver catered to the Winter sports industry while Reed and the PGA Merchandise Show welcomed approximately 40,000 members of the retail golf world to Orlando.
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