This Just In

CEIR “Predicts” the Future

Andrea Doyle, Senior News Editor
The CEO panel included: Lori Anderson, President & CEO, International Sign Association; Aaron Bludworth, President & CEO, Fern; Greg O’Dell, President & CEO, Events DC; Yancy Weinrich, COO, Reed Exhibitions

DALLAS – When a once-in-a-century worldwide pandemic triggers a devastating blow to the global economy, to say that every aspect of this year has been out of the ordinary would be an understatement. Predict, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference, which usually focuses on the findings of the CEIR Index, was no different.

Not only was this traditionally in-person conference held virtually, but there was no research to share, due to the wildly unpredictable times in which we are living. The next CEIR Index will be released next year.

The conference brought together virtually more than 160 exhibitions industry executives to learn about, and discuss, emerging trends likely to impact trade shows and trade fairs three to five years into the future.

“This year’s program focused on what the near future may hold for the B2B exhibitions industry given the impact of COVID-19,” CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM, said. “Proprietary research conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of CEIR was discussed, as well as economic data and trends with actionable insights on what companies should be considering now. CEIR was committed to presenting the level of excellence participants have come to expect from Predict, and by applying cutting edge technology provided by SmartSource, we are pleased to have produced a highly engaging event.”

During the CEO Panel discussion, Yancy Weinrich, COO, Reed Exhibitions, summed up the feelings of many. “Emotional intelligence and adaptability to change are key as we move forward. Our business will not look the same as we move forward. We will look back and say, ‘Wow, that was a tough ride, but we did it, and we did it together.’”

It is no secret that the trade show industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. “This has been going on for seven months, although it has felt like seven years,” Aaron Bludworth, President & CEO, Fern, a marketing support and trade show services provider, said.

Related. CEIR Reports Trade Show Growth for Q4 2019

Lori Anderson, president and CEO, International Sign Association, agreed. “When your primary revenue source disappears overnight, you’ve got a lot of soul searching to do.”

2020 CEIR Chairperson, Carrie Ferenac and CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM

Hard truths aside, the conference did offer glimmers of hope. Futurist John Gerzema, CEO, Harris Insights & Analytics/The Harris Poll, pointed to the University of Illinois’ saliva test rollout that is connected to a mobile app. In this case, a negative test is required to access university buildings, and the hope is that similar testing for trade shows can occur in a tent outside a convention center.

Some dire predictions were also offered. Sam Potolicchio, Ph.D., President, Preparing Global Leaders Forum (PGLF) and Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, RANEPA University, Moscow, suggested the possibility that COVID-19 will not be contained until 2025.

Predict 2020 included presentations from:

  • Alex Chausovsky, Economic Advisor, Market Research and Future Trends Analyst, ITR Economics
  • Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Vice President of Research, CEIR
  • Futurist John Gerzema, CEO, Harris Insights & Analytics/The Harris Poll
  • Sam Potolicchio, Ph.D., President, Preparing Global Leaders Forum; Distinguished Professor/Vice Dean, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Predict also featured a CEO Panel discussion with industry leaders:

  • Lori Anderson, President & CEO, International Sign Association
  • Aaron Bludworth, President & CEO, Fern
  • Greg O’Dell, President & CEO, Events DC
  • Yancy Weinrich, COO, Reed Exhibitions

For more details, go to

Reach Reach Cathy Breden at; Yancy Weinrich at; Sam Potolicchio at; and Aaron Bludworth at



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