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This Just In

The Utility Expo 2023 Smashes Records for Size and Attendance

MADDY RYLEY, MANAGING EDITOR
Photo of the Utility Expo 2023 trade show in Kentucky

CHICAGO — The Utility Expo, which is owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), broke records this year for its size and number of attendees, seeing a 30% increase in attendance over 2021 and a 10% over the best-attended edition of the expo. Spanning 1.5 million net square feet at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Utility Expo 2023 was the largest in the trade show’s history. 

“Increasing attendance was very important to our stakeholders, and we set some lofty goals for increase this year,” John Rozum, The Utility Expo Show Director, said. “We’ve been making critical incremental changes to appeal to a broader base of the industry without losing focus on the trade show’s core appeal. With the pieces in place, our marketing team pushed the envelope trying a variety of new digital marketing tactics that paid dividends in reaching new attendees. We also changed the show name to The Utility Expo in June of 2020 to help emphasize our commitment to focus on the needs of utility industry professionals.”

The biennial trade show, which is the third largest trade show in North America, attracted more than 900 exhibitors and pulled in more than 21,000 utility construction attendees, smashing the previous attendance record set in 2019. In that year, the show was recognized by Trade Show Executive as being the largest non-annual show of the year, the fastest-growing non-annual Gold 100 Show of the year, and the fastest-growing show in sheer numbers of net square feet.

The trade show team also focused on identifying industry sectors that have the most opportunity for growth and increased the exhibiting companies from those segments while providing consistent ROI to a wider span of the utility industry.

Related. 2023 CONEXPO-CON/AGG Was the Largest Edition of the Show in History

“We wanted to increase our overall attendee experience at the show while continuing to show our exhibitors an incredible ROI. For attendees, it meant additional investment in food service, wayfinding, seating areas, a revamped registration process and an all-new Community Zone concept. On the exhibitor side, changes included new enhancements to exhibitor education and ongoing focus on helping keep exhibitor costs low,” Rozum said.

Attendees flocked to The Utility Expo to network and learn the latest trends, innovations and best practices in utility construction. The trade show’s signature interactive product demonstrations provided utility professionals an opportunity to test the latest tools and machinery. The show also featured a mix of field classrooms, educational sessions and workshops where attendees could both learn new skillsets and obtain professional development hours they could use toward industry certifications. The show also offered a number of free sessions where they could discuss the latest in new technologies, traffic safety and underground utility locating.

The Utility Expo partnered with other organizations to expand its educational offerings, including a new Safety Symposium, held in conjunction with the American Traffic Safety Services Association. Show organizers also brought in the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), which provided a central gathering point called the NUCA Lounge. 

Planet Underground also hosted hourly, peer-to-peer demonstrations of predictive analytics software, electromagnetic locating, ground-penetrating radar, subsurface utility engineering, underground RFID marking devices and GIS mobile applications. Another popular feature of the show was the Jobsite, where attendees could try out the experience of working on a job site while also learning about damage prevention and underground utility protection.

“This show has always had a reputation for active demos, and that seemed to be even more pronounced this year. Everywhere you looked, exhibitors were going hands-on with the equipment or interacting with technology. From our side, our stand-out new feature was our Community Zone, which really reinforced the value of attendee involvement by integrating relaxation, learning, networking and fun while bringing the Louisville experience to attendees at the trade show,” Rozum said.  

The Utility Expo will be back at the Kentucky Exposition Center in October 2025.

Reach John Rozum at jrozum@AEM.org

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