Freeman Expands in Registration by Acquiring Convention Data Services

Hil Anderson, Senior Editor
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DALLAS – Freeman has added its name recognition and proven ample abilities to the registration sector in a big way this fall by acquiring Convention Data Services (CDS), one of the exhibition industry’s leading registration firms, and is combining it with Info Salons, another recently acquired registration provider serving the Asia-Pacific market.

The CDS deal, announced Oct. 2, means that Freeman will now cover yet another base for trade shows and other events on a global basis. “With our recent acquisitions, we’re bringing together two exceptional organizations — and some of the most talented experts in our industry — to provide our customers with one of the most comprehensive event-registration and digital-solution offerings available,” Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck said.

Freeman said CDS would continue to operate under its own brand and would be combined with Info Salons, an event IT and registration firm based in Australia, which Freeman acquired in 2018. Info Salons CEO Jo-Anne Kelleway will lead the combined units with the assistance of John Kimball, CEO of CDS, and Wilbert Heijmans, Managing Director of Info Salons, who will be in charge of operations in the Europe, Middle East, Africa markets as well as Asia-Pacific. The new group will report to Freeman Chief Product and Platforms Officer Richard Maranville.

“I am delighted to be working on our strategic approach with both John Kimball at CDS and Wilbert Heijmans at Info Salons as we build our new, combined event-registration offering,” said Kelleway.

Priest-Heck said the combined technology capabilities of CDS and Info Salons would expand Freeman’s ability to respond to their clients’ needs in a wide range of areas of show planning, particularly at the registration phase where premium attendee data is first collected. “The registration process is highly connected to an event’s customer experience,” he said. “We view combining CDS with Info Salons as essential to delivering a valued suite of digital products across the event lifecycle.”

“We are bringing together two exceptional organizations — and some of the most talented experts in our industry — to provide our customers with one of the most comprehensive event registration and digital solution offerings available,” Priest-Heck said.

CDS has been providing registration and other digital services to show organizers for some three decades. The Massachusetts company provided registration for many of the shows listed in the latest Trade Show Executive Gold 100, including the second-largest show, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), and the sixth-ranked NPE2018: The Plastics Show.

Kimball indicated in the announcement that joining forces with Freeman would enable CDS to quickly expand beyond a focus on registration solutions. “As the industry evolves, we must continue to grow and offer solutions for the ever-changing needs of our clients,” he said. “We are now positioned to do that and to be part of a broader and global company.”

Reach Bob Priest-Heck at (214) 445-1000 or bph@freemanco.com; John Kimball at (800) 548-9299 or jkimball@cdsreg.com; Jo-Anne Kelleway at +61 2 9211 7344 or joanne.kelleway@infosalons.com.