This Just In

Flat February Still Yields Bright Spots


CHICAGO — The year’s trade show industry started out strong in January, but February’s numbers were less impressive.

While overall exhibit space was up 3.8% in February, the number of exhibitors fell by 2.6%, and attendance was flat at a 0.4% increase.

February’s drop in exhibitors was attributed to a variety of things, including the HIMSS show moving from February to March. Another factor was the surprisingly low numbers from MAGIC Las Vegas, which until now had been a perennial growth leader, and declines in other Gold 100 shows, HAI HELI-EXPO and the Golf Industry Show.

Despite this, February still had positive signs, including:

  • The Rental Show in New Orleans marked its ninth consecutive year of increases and drew its largest crowd since 2006 (12,066 attendees). The show floor grew by 23.6% to 344,500 net square feet, because The American Rental Association added another exhibit hall and sold out all available space.
  • Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show merged with the Strictly Sail Miami exhibition, expanding it by 20%, to 1.2 million nsf of indoor and on-the-water exhibit space. Exhibitors increased by 2.3%, and attendance grew by 3.0%, to 97,391 attendees.
  • The North American Veterinary Community debuted its new name, VMZ: Veterinary Meeting & Expo, during its annual conference in Orlando, Fla. It saw a sharp increase in exhibitors and space: a 31.5% jump in space, to 167,000 nsf, and an 11.5% bump in exhibitors to 728, and a 4.1% boost in attendance, to 17,838.

The North American International Toy Fair’s attendance slumped by 15.7%, but that was expected since they’ve spent the past 1½ years successfully tightening up their attendees list to include a higher-quality retail audience.

This year’s Toy Fair 2018 included 150 first-time exhibitors and a 26% increase in overseas attendees among the crowd of 26,236. That made it a huge success, said Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s Executive Vice President of Global Market Events.

“The association took on a massive effort to review and requalify everyone who registered for the show,” she said. “By making sure we were delivering the top and best prospects for our exhibitors, we were able to deliver an event that exceeded their expectations.”

Read the entire Dashboard article in this month’s issue of Trade Show Executive; page 37.

Reach Carol Andrews at (562) 505-7903 or, Hil Anderson at (760) 814-0415 or