Atlanta, GA – The annual EXPO! EXPO! trade show maintained its attendance levels this year but featured a growing number of exhibitors in the event technology field.
Steven Hacker, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), told local reporters and trade show editors in a press conference that the show at the Georgia World Congress Center drew an estimated 1,863 attendees. That’s about 100 fewer than the 2008 EXPO! EXPO! in Miami Beach, but Hacker emphasized the numbers were preliminary and unaudited. “That’s more than we expected,” Hacker said.
He added that the exhibit floor covered an estimated 38,500 net square feet and featured 287 exhibiting companies. Traffic remained steady throughout the six-hour show. Most exhibitors told TSE that it was their “best show” and many business transactions were either initiated or finalized.
The floor featured many of the familiar service contractors and destinations. This year, however, a growing number of technology firms offered increasingly sophisticated tools for lead capture, registration, event management and the all-important audience metrics.
Hacker said the presence of technology firms reflected the industry’s growing adoption of gadgets and software in their everyday operations. “The service contractors, for example, have gotten their arms around using technology to help exhibitors answer one of their most pernicious questions: ‘Where is my freight?’,” he said.
Hacker said there was still a learning curve within the industry. He pointed to the focused audience at the general session on social media, which took place bright and early after the previous night’s splashy opening reception at the Georgia Aquarium. “This is like going to Summer school, but we have to learn how to capitalize on these tools,” he said.
Outgoing 2009 IAEE Chair Margaret Pederson said the tech boom was gaining even greater momentum as show organizers and exhibitors scramble to boost efficiency and cut costs in the wake of a stubborn recession. “The number of tools and companies has grown dramatically,” she said.