Arlington, VA — The latest Attendee Acquisition Benchmarks and Trends Study results are in and they point to a generally optimistic outlook for the near future. The study–a joint effort of Exhibit Surveys, Trade Show Executive and Lippman Connects–debuted at the most recent Attendee Acquisition Roundtable held in February in Washington, D.C.
In all, representatives from 143 association and independent organizers completed questionnaires for this report, which was conducted between Dec. 1 and Jan. 5. The results revealed both commonalities and differences between associations and independent event organizers as well as differences between the approaches used by small and large shows to promote their events (Small shows use less than 125,000 nsf of exhibit space while large shows use more than that.)
Seventy-two percent of survey respondents were from associations, while 25% were from independents; the remaining 3% were corporate organizers. Among associations, 60% were trade-related; 40% were professional groups.
In general, 66% overall were optimistic enough to expect increased attendance in the coming year even though respondents were almost evenly divided when asked if attendance at the last event was up or down (51% up to 49% down).
More than half of those reporting increased attendance at the latest event attributed that growth to better email targeting (52%) and/or more sophisticated use of digital tools (44%). And while only 29% of respondents called social media a ‘very effective tool’ to increase attendance, 64% acknowledged using social media is ‘somewhat effective.’
That success translates to plans to spend more funds on social media promotion for 57% of respondents. Those respondents said Facebook and Twitter are the most effective social media outlets.
But measuring social media success can be tricky. The most common measurements cited by respondents were: the number of followers, number of content views, the number of registrations resulting from the social media promotion and the number of ‘likes’ generated by those viewing the content. Those content views were the primary evaluation method used by 58% of the associations embracing social media outreach. In contrast, 67% of independent organizers said they still measured the success of this outreach by the number of attendee registrations it generated.
A full report about the Attendee Acquisition Benchmarks and Trends Study will be presented in the March edition of Trade Show Executive magazine.