Exhibit Space Soars in February
Despite Pesky Polar Vortex
Oceanside, CA – The growth of exhibit space seemed to be picking up even more momentum in February with one of the more impressive gains seen in several months. Exhibit space grew a robust 6.5% compared to the previous year and came on the heels of a 3.0% gain in January and a 4.4% increase in November. Exhibit space growth in December was only 1.1%.
The increases have come despite frustratingly flat numbers for exhibitors and attendance, which were 1.7% and 1.5% respectively in February. January’s stormy weather put a dent in attendance at some shows, and probably the same could be said for February.
The adjusted totals for the 20 shows on the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics included 4,170,865 net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space. The number of exhibitors totaled 14,817 and attendance was 336,503. That boiled down to an average of 231,715 nsf per show along with 780 exhibitors and 18,695 attendees.
Only two shows saw their metrics decline in all three categories while 13 of the 20 reported across-the-board growth. Half of the 20 shows featured in the Dashboard had exhibit space of 100,000 nsf or more, and eight were part of the TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest shows in the U.S. Seven shows made the TSE Fastest 50 roster of shows with the most impressive growth.
The Growth Leaders
- Advanstar Communications’ mighty MAGIC Market Week turned in another impressive showing in 2014. The largest show in February was also one that has held dual honors for the Gold 100 and Fastest 50. MAGIC brushed the 1 million nsf mile marker with 994,505 nsf, a 12.1% increase over last February’s show. The number of exhibitors also grew by double-digits posting a 10.3% jump to 4,096. Attendance increased 6.3% and reached 70,000.
- The Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show took place as Congress hammered the new Farm Bill together, which likely enhanced the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) event’s heavy focus on politics and regulation. “The grassroots policy process is the backbone and the strength of NCBA,” said association President Scott George. “It’s important that our producers’ voice is heard and our cattlemen came together to discuss policy priorities that will lay the groundwork for the next year.” Attendance was up 27.3% and the show floor, which hosted some of the educational sessions, grew 31.3% to 105,000 nsf.
- The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) seemed to hit the jackpot by becoming a keystone of Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas. KBIS saw double-digit growth in all metrics while co-located with the International Builders’ Show and International Window Coverings Expo. “This year’s show had more top brands and more new products,” said Brian Pagel, vice president of Emerald Expositions’ Kitchen and Bath Group. The exhibit floor was 225,580 nsf, nearly 30% above 2013. Emerald said advanced bookings for 2015 were already above that mark.
- The International Builders Show took up the lion’s share of the exhibit space during Design & Construction Week. Its 428,932 nsf was 20.8% over the previous year, and the number of exhibitors grew 18.8% to 1,136. Upbeat reports on the construction industry’s recovery reportedly cheered exhibitors and drummed up support for next year’s show.
An unrelenting surge of Winter weather transformed New York City from the Big Apple to the Big Icicle in February. The impact it had on trade shows was basically a split decision in terms of Dashboard metrics.
The month opened with NY NOW, which had to contend not only with Winter storms, but also with the influx of visitors for the Super Bowl. The GLM show, recently acquired by Emerald, came away with red ink in all three categories. Attendance was off (15.5)% and likely affected by transportation snarls. But the number of exhibitors was down (18.6)% from last year and exhibit space was off (11.3)% at 464,568 nsf.
GLM, however, said exhibitors remained bullish and reported doing a brisk business during the February 1-6 run. “NY Now did have several strong days of attendance,” said Christian Falkenberg, NY NOW director and GLM senior vice president. “The buyers who made it to New York were there to shop.”
The American International Toy Fair opened on schedule February 16 a few days after another significant snowstorm roared through town. But, it took more than a polar vortex to keep the crowds away.
The Toy Industry Association counted nearly 26,500 attendees who rushed in from the cold at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and got down to the business of restocking their post-Christmas inventories. “Toy Fair was once again a must-attend for anyone with a stake in the toy business,” said Marian Bossard, vice president of meetings and events.
The crowd was 5.4% larger than last year and the completion of renovations at Javits allowed the show floor to expand 9.7% to a record 413,690 nsf. The extra room also accommodated exhibitors who were on a waiting list after the 2013 show.
The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) picked a good year to hold the annual HIMSS show in sunny Orlando. HIMSS 14, a dual Gold 100-Fastest 50 honoree, had more than 1,200 exhibitors in Orlando occupying a record 535,300 nsf. The exhibit floor was 8.1% larger than last year and attendance was estimated at 38,000, a 9.1% increase.
HIMSS extended the hours of its exhibit hall to give buyers more browsing time. “They had asked for more time on the exhibition floor, so we increased the hours for more networking and interaction,” said Elli Riley, director, exhibits and meeting services. “We also added some new features to the floor, including a dedicated area reserved for first-time exhibitors.”
HIMSS 14 and The Rental Show gave Orlando a total of 824,500 nsf of combined exhibit space for February, the third-highest total for the month. Las Vegas was the top city with eight Dashboard shows totaling 2,075,867 nsf. New York was second with a total of 878,258 nsf.
Coming up Next Month in Dashboard
March began in grand style with the triennial CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, which gobbled up around 2.5 million nsf of exhibit space. The calendar also included the Gold 100 ASD Las Vegas and the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, which assigned 778,000 nsf of exhibit space. Early reports indicate the Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim drew more than 67,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors, including a record 635 first-time exhibitors. The month wrapped up with the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, produced by Exhibit Management Associates, Inc. As we go to press, 1,000+ exhibitors were expected along with more than 70,000 attendees from all 50 states and 70 countries.
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