Event Recap: Trade Show Executive’s Nine Key Takeaways from CEIR Predict

DANICA TORMOHLEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE
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OXON HILL, Md. — The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Predict drew 157 attendees, including 41 first timers, to the MGM National Harbor.

Held Sept. 16-17, the event offered sessions on topics ranging from “Trends Shaping Our Future” to “Using Marketing Disruptors for Launching Innovation.”

The program featured research on economic performance and forecasts by an economist who is a regular guest on CNBC, Fox News and CNN, plus news and trend analysis from a press panel that included reporters from Politico and Inc.

Trade Show Executive has identified nine key takeaways:

  1. Outlook for U.S. economy uncertain. “The outlook for the U.S. economy remains very uncertain. This is the longest recovery in history, but it’s also the weakest. The Fed maintained its 2019 GDP forecast at 2.1%, while its 2020 forecast was revised higher from 1.9% to 2.0%, and its longer-run forecast was unrevised at 1.9% in June (when the most recent Summary of Economic Projections were published),” said Dr. Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist for Stifel Fixed Income. “Growth is likely to lose considerable momentum in 2019 with the risk of recession rising in 2020 and beyond.”
  2. Advocating for trade agreements. “As trade show organizers, we face the headwinds of the fact that we don’t have trade agreements in place,” said Dennis Slater, President, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). “The services and equipment we sell in the U.S. aren’t as important in the international market right now. So what does that do to our international attendance? People don’t want to come here because we don’t have trade agreements. It creates a huge obstacle for our trade shows and international attendance growth.” Later in the week, AEM was on the hill lobbying for the NAFTA, as well as China trade deals.
  3. Immigration reform needs to be addressed. “There are 360,000 unfulfilled construction and construction-related jobs in the U.S.,” said Jerry Howard, CEO, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “We have relied historically on immigrant labor to build America. The fact is I would argue that an immigration bill is every bit as important as an infrastructure bill. If we could get an immigration reform bill, a lot of the unfulfilled jobs that we have would be filled.”
  4. Trends in consumer market that may disrupt B2B. John Germeza, CEO of The Harris Poll, presented 25 consumer trends from recent data the company has gathered. Among the top trends: Auto empathy: where personal data meets real-time behavioral economics. For example, the University of Arizona uses student IDs to detect who may drop out and intervenes based on behavioral data collected. “Surveys in and of themselves are not really cutting it today,” said Germeza. “We have the technology to track behavior. How can you use that data to understand how your users are experiencing the event, where they are going, how they are congregating, and what they like?”
  5. Learning more important than loyalty. “One thing we are finding more and more with our younger folks at the company is … learning is more important than stability,” said Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence. “How do you build a team to going forward when you have that kind of loyalty?” It’s important to keep in mind that lots of experiences are important to millennial and Gen Z, advised Germeza. He said they don’t want just one label, they prefer a “hyphen” economy where their resume includes more than one title. Show organizers may need to offer a variety of work experiences for these workers in order to attract and retain talent.
  6. Capitalizing on micro-experiences. “Attendees want to create their own experiences and decide who they want to experience that with,” said Michelle Mason, President and CEO, Association Forum. “It’s more about micro-experiences. They want to create their own tribes. How do we leverage that?”
  7. Taking advantage of when buyers are open to conversations. Tom Steenburgh, Richard S. Reynolds Professorship in Business Administration at the University of Virginia, presented research on the changing sales environment for exhibiting companies. “New products demand more time,” he said. “They require 35% more time than existing products, and 32% more face-to-face meetings. As opportunities become rarer and rarer to have these face-to-face discussions, you have to find times when buyers are open to having these discussions. The question is: How do take trade shows take advantage of that?” Some ways that shows are addressing this need is through product showcases and exhibitor presentation theaters on the show floor.
  8. Bring more marketers to the table. “Most marketers are missing an opportunity at trade shows,” said Arjun Chakravarti, Senior Vice President of Analytics & Insights, GES. “If you think about biggest marketing opportunity today, it’s content marketing. Marketers need to generate more content at the right point and at the right place and time. The problem is most CMOs I talk to have a hard time figuring out where to get all of that content. It turns out that the trade shows are probably the best environment to source for your full 365-content marketing schedule. It’s speaking to this class of individuals from brands that we need to start talking to and influencing further up the chain. We need to give them a reason to be here.”
  9. Getting press coverage for your show. “The age of press releases is over,” said Daniel Lippman, Reporter, POLITICO. Tell a story that’s relevant for their audience, advised Kevin Baum, Columnist, Inc.com. To get press to attend and cover your events, they recommended asking reporters to moderate sessions, offering access to speakers or influencers at receptions or private interviews, and following up with personal phone calls not emails.

 

Editor’s note: Trade Show Executive is a sponsor of CEIR Predict and regularly contributes research to the CEIR Index.

Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9242 or cbreden@ceir.org.