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SISO CEO Summit Gathers Industry Leaders for a Forward-Looking Program

panelists for The CEO Panel- Beyond Recovery! session sitting on a couch

LAS VEGAS — Trade show organizers and executives gathered in Las Vegas March 20-23 for the 2023 Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) CEO Summit. The four-day event provided educational sessions on a wide variety of topics, from insights on the next few years to talent trends and employees’ expectations to merger and acquisition outlooks, as well as networking opportunities for attendees. 

The CEO Panel – Beyond Recovery!, moderated by Mary Larkin, President of Diversified Communications, shared insights on the next few years. All agree the trade show and event industry is back and stronger than what was forecasted in most cases. The panel featured Lisa Hannant, CEO of Clarion Events; Hervé Sedky, CEO of Emerald, Nancy Walsh, President – North America for Informa Markets; and Fernando Fischer, President of RX Global Americas. 

These thought leaders shared key areas of focus for the trade show industry moving forward, which included increased costs, greater diversity of staff, customers and attendees, providing digital and technology tools to give customers and attendees a better experience, such as wayfinding and matchmaking, and changing sales strategies that are more akin to a value priced model. 

“Now as we look beyond recovery in a post-pandemic economy the exhibitions industry is more resilient, more adaptable to rapidly changing circumstances and poised to seize the unprecedented opportunity to innovate our businesses,” Sedky said. 

Related. Bob Priest-Heck Wins Krakoff Leadership Award at the 2023 SISO CEO Summit

In another session, organizers discussed the ways they are building community with high engagement levels and creating experiences, which are leading to financial success. Panelists shared that looking at events in terms of gatherings, and not just net square feet, along with understanding the product is the experience and providing dedicated experiential spaces helps strengthen the feeling of community. As an example of this in action, panelist Denise Medved, Senior Vice President, Money 20/20 USA at Ascential, said that 35% of the Money 20/20 show floor was paid space and the rest was dedicated to experiences.

With year-round digital interaction being expected of events since the pandemic, the session The Power of Digital Communities in Driving Live Events Performance featured a panel discussing the way leading organizers are implementing new strategies to drive audience engagement through digital platforms. Some key takeaways from the discussion were to create micro-journeys where community hubs and solutions are provided, that data management is imperative to providing best-in-class service and content teams and digital delivery teams provide different expertise for event organizers. 

Insights from The Freeman Trends Report Event Attendee Intent and Behavior Q1 2023 were shared, and the data shows there is a strong preference for in-person events over virtual events, with 80% of respondents saying they’d chose in-person formats over remote ones. 

As was mentioned in other sessions, people are wanting to attend in-person events, and the data from the survey revealed NGEGs want connection at the events they attend, as they are a group looking for belonging, engagement and meaning as important parts of their professional identities. 

Be sure to get our complete coverage if this important industry event in the May issue of Trade Show Executive Magazine. Subscribe to receive the monthly magazine here: 

Reach Hervé Sedky at; Vincent Polito, CEO of SISO, at; Mary Larkin, SISO Chair, at 

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