Crowds Jump 4.6% in December While Exhibit Space Inches Up 1.2%
Oceanside, CA – Show floors were as crowded as the shopping malls in December with attendance at trade shows growing a robust 4.6% over the same month in 2013, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. The report also found a slight decline in the number of exhibitors, but a 1.2% increase in exhibit space.
The final month of the year was primarily dedicated mainly to smaller shows, but the improvement in attendance seemed to indicate that these events were important enough for companies to dispatch more people at a time when air-travel costs were down and weather conditions could be dicey.
There were only 18 shows held in December included in the Dashboard totals. Eight of those shows — less than half of the total — were larger than 100,000 net square feet (nsf). Four shows were on the TSE Gold 100 rankings and three on the TSE Fastest 50.
The adjusted totals for December included 2,149,303 nsf, well under the November total of more than 4.5 million nsf for 20 events. Exhibitor counts totaled 6,541 and attendance reached 155,625 –— well under the 502,937 attendees who had registered for exhibitions in November.
The totals worked out to an average of 153,522 nsf per show along with 436 exhibitors and 10,375 attendees.
The overall results were a mixed bag with the majority of shows experiencing both gains and losses in their totals. Five shows, including the International WorkBoat Show, saw all three metrics grow. Just two shows experienced across-the-board declines.
Ups and Downs
Some key December shows were among those that reported metrics going in both directions.
The Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Indianapolis was one such show. The TSE Gold 100 and Fastest 50 expo saw its exhibit space dip (4.7)% to 326,300 nsf. Exhibitors were down (4.8)% to 1,168. But the crowd of around 49,000 was both impressive and 3.3% larger than last year’s.
Show manager John Kilroy said the packed aisles were a good sign that the show was resonating among its buyer audience, much of which is based around Indianapolis. “It was a great show,” Kilroy said. “From what we saw, the state of the racing industry has some real strength and momentum behind it.”
The Running Event, a past TSE Fastest 50 honoree, lost ground in attendance and exhibitor numbers, but saw its exhibit space perk up 5.1%. Mark Sullivan, president of Formula4 Media, said major footwear retailers expanded their booth space over last year and helped increase the overall exhibit floor to 124,000 nsf. “The retail attendance numbers were particularly gratifying because it was a challenging year for the running specialty. Suppliers to the running business say there is no better way to reach this many prospects in 1½ days.”
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition experienced drops in exhibit space and exhibitors, which were offset by a 17.1% increase in attendance. The American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting had slightly lower attendance, but its exhibit space grew 9.1% to 19,000 nsf.
- The International Council of Shopping Centers moved its New York National Deal Making conference into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and saw its metrics boom. Exhibit space expanded to 161,000 nsf, an amazing 81% jump from the previous year when the event was held at the New York Hilton. The number of exhibitors grew 56.1% to 484, and attendance surged 28.9% to 9,800. Securing extra space at Javits appeared to be a timely decision since it coincided with improved confidence in the economy. “We have previously witnessed increases in attendance that correlate with industry growth in the coming year,” said ICSC President and CEO Mike Kercheval.
- The National Science Teachers Association Area Conference rotated into Southern California and saw attendance more than double. The Long Beach event hosted 5,640 educators, a 136% increase over last year’s meeting in Denver. Exhibitors also grew along with the crowd. The number of vendors on the floor increased 39.3% to 149, which spurred a 37.8% increase in exhibit space to 18,600 nsf.
- The National Athletic Directors Conference/NIAAA Annual Meeting was another educational event that took advantage of the holiday break. Held in National Harbor, MD, the conference enjoyed double-digit growth in all three metrics. The largest increase was in exhibit space, which grew 25% to 25,000 nsf. Exhibitors were up 12.8% and attendance grew 10% to 2,200.
Plenty of Parking
The biggest and best of the new recreation vehicle lines pulled into Louisville for the Annual National RV Trade Show, the largest event of the month.
The show floor expanded by 3.8% to 755,453 nsf; however the other two Dashboard metrics declined compared to last year. The number of exhibitors dropped (2.4)% to 286, and the attendance of 7,394 was off (4.6)%.
“Attendance was down slightly, but more than 2,400 dealers were there and they came to make deals,” said James Ashurst, vice president of marketing for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
The steady decline in U.S. gasoline prices appeared to spark interest in the show among the mainstream media. Ashurst said news crews from national outlets were on hand to cover the RV industry’s prospects for 2015.
The big RV show pushed Louisville into the top spot among host cities in December. The National Agricultural Aviation Association Annual Convention & Exposition chipped in 41,000 nsf to give Louisville a total of 796,453 nsf for the month, based on Dashboard listings.
Power-Gen International was enough to place Orlando in the second spot with 365,600 nsf. Indianapolis was another big contender with the PRI show’s 326,300 nsf.
Louisville will be busy again in March. The Mid-America Trucking Show is one of 16 shows around the U.S. that is ranked on the TSE Gold 100 or Fastest 50 rosters.
ASD Market Week looks to be the largest event of March for Las Vegas. The show lost a little exhibit space last year, but the floor still covered 647,980 nsf and attendance was up slightly.
Global Pet Expo set a show record for number of booths sold last year and could move closer to 300,000 nsf in Orlando this Spring. Exhibit space for the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago sold out before Christmas.
PITTCON in New Orleans will be co-located this year with the Third Annual Food Labs Conference.
There will also be a healthy number of medical conferences taking place in March. The largest will probably be the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in Las Vegas and the International Vision Expo East in New York. Both expect more than 200,000 nsf of exhibit space.
Also on the schedule is Abilities Expo East, which recently added veteran show organizer Charles McCurdy to its board of directors.
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