Trade Show Executive and 40 Sponsors Honor the Largest and Most Innovative Shows at the 2012 Gold Gala

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Washington, DC – The preeminent trade show organizers in the U.S. were honored in Washington last month for the hard work and deft touches that made their exhibitions the biggest and best of 2011.

Held October 3-5 at the Ritz-Carlton Washington, DC, the fifth annual Trade Show Executive (TSE) Gold 100 Awards & Summit saluted the 100 largest trade shows of the past year, and then singled out 14 events for their remarkable achievements in social media practices, green initiatives, global participation and economic impact.

“Today’s leaders are working in a new economic and technological landscape,” said Darlene Gudea, president of Trade Show Executive Media Group. “The Gold 100 Awards and Summit gathered the best minds in the industry, not only to celebrate their triumphs in 2011 and 2012, but to also lay the groundwork for new directions in 2013.”

The 2012 Gold Gala was held for the first time on the East Coast and drew a record attendance of 182 delegates.  “Holding the Gold 100 in Washington, DC  and moving the event to a slightly later date enabled many leading organizers to participate for the first time,” said Diane Bjorklund, vice president of events. “We hosted 38 people who had not been able to attend in previous years due to schedule conflicts with their shows or their overseas counterparts.”

And The Winner Is….

During the Gold 100 awards dinner, each of the top sponsors “opened the envelope” and presented a trophy to the organizer who produced the largest show; drew the highest global participation; generated the highest economic impact; earned the “Marketing Genius Award;” built the “Greatest Show on Earth;” and more.

Nielsen Expositions, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and CONEXPO-CON/AGG were multiple Grand Award winners at the Gold 100 this year. First-time Grand Award winners included Process Expo, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Enterprise 2.0 and techtextil.

Each of the 14 honorees received a crystal trophy and the satisfaction of ranking among the very elite in a highly competitive awards program. Here is a look at the full list of winners:

The Top Show Organizer in Number of Shows
Nielsen Expositions
It was close, but Nielsen Expositions took the Grand Award for producing  eight Gold 100 shows in 2011:  two ASD Las Vegas events; two Outdoor Retailer Markets; Global Shop; Interbike; the KBIS – Kitchen and Bath Industry Show; and Hospitality Design Expo.

The Largest Trade Show in 2011
CONEXPO-CON/AGG
CONEXPO-CON/AGG is held once every three years and always makes a big impression. The construction-equipment expo, organized by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, spanned more than 2.2 million net square feet and drew nearly 120,000 registered attendees.

The Largest Annual Trade Show in 2011
International CES
It wouldn’t be January in Las Vegas without the International Consumer Electronics Show turning The Strip into a giant celebration of the latest gadgets and devices. CES topped 1.6 million net square feet, which is particularly impressive since consumer electronics are getting smaller every day.

The Largest Semi-Annual Trade Show in 2011
MAGIC Marketplace
MAGIC is no illusion. Advanstar turns Las Vegas into the fashion capital of the world twice each year. Last year’s February and August shows were both well above 800,000 net square feet. As they say about hemlines, how much higher can they go?

The Fastest-Growing Gold 100 Show
Process Expo
Process Expo really hit its stride in 2011. The mega show spanned 231,350 net square feet last year, which was more than double the previous show . . . and that was after they parted ways with their previous co-location partner!

The Top Show Brand in Number of Shows Worldwide
techtextil
Messe Frankfurt has woven an impressive global network of eight trade shows under the techtextil brand. Three of them are held in China and others run in Germany, India, Mexico, Russia and the United States.

The Show That Generated the Highest Economic Impact
International CES
The crowds and overall buzz generated by the International Consumer Electronics Show are the envy of every trade show manager and city in the world. Nearly 150,000 buyers and sellers jammed The Strip in 2011 and anteed up a $158 million economic impact [non-gaming revenue] into the Las Vegas economy.

The Show with the Highest Global Participation
CONEXPO-CON/AGG
No other show on the Gold 100 drew such interest:  one out of every four attendees at CONEXPO-CON/AGGhailed from other countries but the universal language was “construction.”

The Show with the Best Use of Technology
UBM’s Enterprise 2.0
United Business Media not only embraced technology at its Enterprise 2.0 conference, it jumped in with both feet. Enterprise 2.0 covered the whole social media world by using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, custom e-mail tools and the latest smart-phone applications to create what UBM called a true social atmosphere.

The Greenest Show
Outdoor Retailer Winter Market
The concept of carbon offsets may sound complicated, but Nielsen Expositions mastered the program by making it a cornerstone of its Green Steps plan at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The goal was to make the show carbon neutral by encouraging exhibitors to pitch in for carbon-offset purchases from green-energy suppliers.

The Greenest Show, Honorable Mention
Natural Products Expo West/Engredea
New Hope Media continues to build the Natural Products Expo brand and its eco-friendly reputation with a laser-like focus on sustainability issues. These ranged from using alternative fuels in all shuttle buses to replacing traditional print directories with digital versions. It was the show’s fifth straight Grand Award in the Green category.

The Marketing Genius Award
Chris Brown,Executive VP of Conventions & Business Operations, National Association of Broadcasters
The breathtaking pace of change in the broadcasting industry draws an eager exhibitor and attendance base but it also forces the NAB Show to adapt to industry needs at a rapidly increasing tempo. NAB has created a “central intelligence agency” of sorts which drills deeply into the broadcasting industry to gather knowledge and preempt  pending shifts in the marketplace; create personal alliances with constituencies critical to the NAB Show; and insure their needs are addressed. Developing and marshaling all of this information is one of the many impressive accomplishments of Chris Brown. His success underscores the importance of implementing creative marketing ideas to adapt to a rapidly changing business world.

Best Use of Social Media
American International Toy Fair
Getting around in New York is no game, unless it’s Toy Fair Week and you are equipped with “Play Happens – The Game.” The American International Toy Faircreated this community-building game based on social media. It connected the entire toy community and the city by turning Manhattan into a living board game.

The Greatest Show on Earth
International CES
Size does not matter when it comes to this Gold Grand Award.It’s all about substance, from global participation to green initiatives to innovative new show management techniques.  The International Consumer Electronics Show has proven its mettle year after year as one of the top-tier exhibitions in the world. Not only does CES draw big international crowds and an army of global exhibitors, it also earns wall-to-wall coverage by the trade and mainstream media thanks to its reputation as THE place to see the latest in electronics. The show has also carved out a strong reputation in implementing innovations in trade show management, global marketing, registration technology and social media.

Out and About
With a leading cast of the “Who’s Who” in the trade show industry, networking takes center stage.  The Gold 100 facilitated that process by creating a congenial atmosphere of special events:

· The Mixology Challenge & Lunch, hosted by former White House chefs Patrice Olivon and Roland Mesnier, ended with the creation of the “Thyme Bomb” by five Gold 100 delegates  [see page 46]. Their masterpiece was a refreshingly potent herb-laced signature cocktail enjoyed during the Gold Awards reception.

· The annual Gold 100 Golf Classic hosted a busload of devotees at the historic Belle Haven Country Club on the banks of the Potomac, not far from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. The team of Brian Tully, Greg O’Dell, Frank Grace and Patrick Langdon turned in the low score and secured 19th-hole bragging rights for the year.

· The Good as Gold Opening Reception welcomed returning attendees and newcomers at Vidalia, a five-star restaurant that ranked No. 8 on Washingtonian magazine’s list of The Top 100 Restaurants in Washington, DC.

Panel of Peers
Every year, TSE brings in a solid roster of speakers who are at the forefront of the trends and challenges shaping the exposition industry.The November presidential election, the sputtering economy and the art of keeping trade shows at the top of their game were a common thread in most sessions.

Keynote:  Scott McKain, commentator, former CBS anchor, and author of The Collapse of Distinction, opened the Gold 100 Summit with a warning that “familiarity breeds complacency.”  Customers will take you for granted if you take them for granted, he said.  Ask yourself, “What is it about this year’s event that makes it compelling for a person to attend, given the hectic world and crowded marketplace?”  Once you develop the “high concept,” McKain urged the Gold 100 delegates to drive home that point repeatedly in every contact with their customers. “Mindshare precedes market share,” he emphasized.

New Business Models: Jochen Witt, president of JWC and a past chairman of UFI, moderated the session on new pricing strategies. He said three levers influence profit:  cost, volume and price.  “Price is the most important profit improvement lever,” he noted.  “By increasing your price 5%, you can often increase your profits as much as 50%.” He further noted that price differentiation is important because customers like to have choices.

Nancy Walsh, executive vice president of Reed Exhibitions, noted that Reed is in its second cycle of Choice Pricing, which assigns different prices for booth space based on location and other factors. She presented a case study on a revamp of booth pricing for a show that resulted in a 9.5% increase in revenue. “Behind the scenes, it meant changing the way we sell and interact with our customers,” she said. “It also changed the way we laid out the floor.”

Gene Sanders, senior vice president of SPI, the Society of the Plastics Industry, briefed the crowd on SPI’s online budget calculator, which enables exhibitors to quickly figure out their expenses for exhibiting at NPE. The three biggest ticket items are exhibit space, material handling and utilities, and the budget calculator helps them avoid sticker shock when they receive their invoices.

Burning Issues: The popular audience-participation panel led by Gary Shapiro, president & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, zeroed in on pesky issues such as air-travel woes and visa processing. There were also concerns voiced about the post-election regulatory and tax environment in the U.S.

Britton Jones, president & CEO of Business Journals, Inc., characterized the beginning of the year as promising, but then consumer confidence faded into the “Spring of Disconnect.”  He noted, “While economic indicators improved, it didn’t feel like growth would last.” He noted that even though the economy is fragile, there are still many opportunities.  “Corporate holdings are three times the size of the fiscal stimulus package,” Jones pointed out.

“We need to develop markets and create opportunities where demand exists, regardless of the macroeconomics,” said Kerry Gumas, president & CEO of Questex Media Group. Peter MacGillivray, vice president of events for SEMA, saw signs of some optimism, with trade show participation growing and ROI on the increase.

Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, said the USTA is intent on increasing visa waiver countries and decreasing visa wait times.  Noting that the USTA is now 500,000 members strong, he said he would like everyone to sign up their staff and members to participate at the grassroots level at signmeup@ustravel.org.  “I promise I won’t ask you for money, but if something is threatening the trade show and travel industry, I will let you know about the problem and you can contact your congressman. You have more clout.”

Trending & Spending: TSE Chief Economist Frank Chow confirmed the recovery was still poking along at a frustratingly slow pace with ominous slowdowns in manufacturing and household income.

Despite the slow economy, TSE’s Exposition Forecasting Board predicted the trade show industry would end the year with revenue growth of about 5%. “The Gold 100 shows proved to be more venerable than trade shows in general.  Net square footage led the way with a 3.7% uptick compared to the modest growth of 1.6% for trade shows across the board,” said Darlene Gudea, president of Trade Show Executive Media Group. Medical shows have been in a rut for the past six quarters, she pointed out.

Aaron Bludworth, president of Fern Exposition & Event Services, believes trade show growth will continue, although slowing from last year’s relatively strong bounce. He said the rate of growth will depend on four factors whose outcome is much harder to predict:  election results, stability in Europe, tensions in the Middle East and the fiscal cliff. “Some combinations of these factors can move the needle one way or the other,” he said.

Power Lunch: David Ingemie, president of SnowSports Industries America (SIA) was the on-stage guest of TSE columnist Bob Dallmeyer.

Despite the challenges of holding a trade show in Denver in the middle of Winter, the SIA Snow Show has grown to 49th on the TSE Gold 100 and is the leading show for the skiing and snowboarding industry.

Ingemie told Dallmeyer and the crowd the personal contact provided by trade shows was more important than ever as the blizzard of information on the Internet continues to grow. “The more that we are on our smart phones and other devices, the more important ‘belly-to-belly’ and eyeball-to-eyeball becomes,” he said.

Consumer Show Powerhouses: Closed-door trade shows can take some tips from consumer-oriented events. Greg Topalian, senior vice president of Reed Exhibitions’ Pop Culture division, said the line between B-to-B and B-to-C was becoming fuzzier and attendees for both types of events were as interested on the overall experience of a show as they were the products and education offered. “Your attendees are satisfied with the show, but are they telling their friends about you?,” asked Topalian, who oversees NY Comic Con and other Reed events that cater to the consumer segment. “Are they in love with your show?”

Rod Alberts, executive director of the North American International Auto Show, said the recessionary speed bump that jarred the auto show in 2008 was a catalyst for a revamp that aggressively courted attendance and media coverage, resulting in bigger crowds and valuable buzz from the auto industry and the media. Alberts traced the steps he took in rebuilding the show from working with exhibitors one- on-one, intriguing the media, courting then-president Bill Clinton to make an appearance, and landscaping the show floor with a forest, waterfall and other nature scapes to reflect the excitement of travel by car. “Success begins at the edge of your comfort zone,” he said.

Around the World in 45 Minutes. The final discussion of the day focused on the progress U.S. organizers are making in the sometimes daunting international market. Show organizers, led by well-travelled moderator Cherif Moujabber, president & CEO of Creative Expos & Conferences, said the rest of the world, Asia in particular, was less mysterious these days but still challenging. “I don’t think there is any one market that is easy,” said Ned Krause, president & CEO of E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc., speaking from the audience.

Some Gold 100 organizers have not ventured into geo-cloning their events overseas but court the international market by bringing overseas buyers and exhibitors to their domestic events.  “We had 80 countries represented at our last show compared to 30 in the late 1990s. We targeted the ‘low hanging fruit’ such as Canada and Mexico early on to get some early wins and build on that,” said Chris Nemchek, senior vice president of membership & exhibitions for the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade.

The discussions produced key takeaways for attendees to bring back to the office as they prepare for the holidays and a busy January show calendar.

Heading West
The Sixth Annual Gold 100 Awards & Summit rotates back to the West coast and will be held September 18-20, 2013, at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA.  Save the dates!

Reach Diane Bjorklund at (630) 312-8915 or dbjorklund@tradeshowexcutive.com