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Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 Awards & Summit Celebrates High Growth and Highlights Important Industry Trends to Watch


LAS VEGAS — Trade Show Executive (TSE) held its annual Fastest 50 Awards & Summit at Resorts World Las Vegas May 8-10, bringing together 185 registered attendees for impactful education, meaningful networking and a whole lot of celebrating.

The Fastest 50 Class of 2023 features 86 shows, with some ranked on more than one list and 23 shows ranked on all three of the Fastest 50 lists. The Class of 2023 represents more than 15 million net square feet of paid exhibit space, 48,517 exhibiting companies and more than 1.4 million attendees.

When it comes to overall growth rates for the entire Class of 2023, the Fastest 50 put up impressive numbers, seeing 51.6% growth in net square feet of paid exhibit space, 48.4% growth in the number of exhibiting companies and 62.8% growth in total attendance.

Actionable Education

The annual Fastest 50 Education Summit featured prominent industry leaders who spoke on a variety of topics relevant to show organizers and included candid conversations between leaders on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry overall.

Taking the stage first, top executives from facilities across the country, including Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and Miami, talked with Christine Flanagan on the ways that show organizers and venues can better collaborate. A key takeaway from the session featuring Mark Tester from the Orange County Convention Center, Steve Hill from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Larita Clark from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and Freddie Peterson from the Miami Beach Convention Center, was that show organizers can ask questions to the venues directly and challenge them to help meet the needs of their shows.

“Ask questions,” said Peterson. “It’s all about negotiating, if you don’t ask, you don’t get it, and there’s nothing wrong with being a little uncomfortable at times. I know what I need from a venue perspective, but you [show organizers] are in the marketplace and you may see something, even at the hotel today that you think is really cool like digital signage, and I need information from you all so I can provide a better product. So, challenge us [venues] and ask those questions.”

Then Danielle Danko from RE+ Events explained how they are harnessing new revenue streams by providing membership services to organizations in the clean energy industry. This model helps grow the organization’s reach, grow areas of the RE+ show floor and bring more revenue to RE+ to direct back into the industry.

Dan Carter and Stephen Kellogg explored five macrotrends for consumers and how they present opportunities for show organizers to provide desired and delightful event experiences and design. According to Dan and Stephen, people are seeking radical reconnection and there is a growing demand for meticulously curated experiences, which organizers can capitalize on.

“We are overloaded with content, in an election year more so than ever, and regardless of age our research is showing that there is a growing trend to absolutely disconnect from their digital screens,” Carter said. “They want experiences that are deliberately low-tech. What we look at when we think about infusing digital elements into the experience is being very deliberate. You need a prevailing sentiment that you are either creating something that is deeply, seamlessly, flawlessly easy or you are removing the digital components out of the experience.”

Mike Carlucci, Chief Operating Officer, and Desiree Hanson, Chief Commercial Officer of Clarion Events North America, discussed the importance of aligning goals with partners to provide best-in-class services and experiences. Mike emphasized that building a culture around focusing on the customer is key to success in organizing trade shows.

Consumer Technology Association President Kinsey Fabrizio and mdg Vice President Caitlin Fox took to the stage to discuss the plethora of ways trade shows can prioritize personalization, from docent-led tours to themed lounges to “hackathons,” where small groups can come together to work on solving a challenge or problem together. Fabrizio shared how CTA is creating special experiences and environments for specific segments, like Eureaka Park for startup companies where the target attendees include investors and larger companies that can help invest or grow the newer businesses.

MMGNT Group’s President Kelly Helfman shared the market research and decision making behind the launch of MAGIC Nashville. After holding a pop-up event in Orlando in 2021, the team behind MAGIC recognized an opportunity to produce more regional shows to expand their reach and provide distinct value propositions to exhibitors to drive attendees and brands to different shows.

“There was great feedback [from the Orlando event]; they liked the more intimate environment,” Helfman said. “We saw that there was something here, this is an opportunity. We got a ton of net-new attendees into our database that would have never potentially come to New York or Las Vegas. So, we collected the feedback, and we came back from the show and said ‘we don’t know if it’s Orlando, we don’t know where we’re going to go, but at the end of the day, we know that this smaller more intimate, nice, curated event is desirable.’ We got a ton of new business, and we can convert those to the other shows.”

Then, some Fastest 50 growth leaders discussed how their shows are growing due to them curating high-quality audiences, providing one-of-a-kind experiences and continuing to keep on top of and ahead of the industry trends.

Marc Simon, Event Vice President, PGA Golf Exhibitions at RX; Glenn Celentano, Partner | CEO, Restaurant Events, LLC and Founder, The Pizza Tomorrow Summit; Jamie Reesby, CEM, Vice President, Generation and Grocery at Clarion Events North America and moderator Mary Beth Shaughnessy, Event Vice President, ISC Security Events at RX all shared that a key to healthy sustainable growth is ensuring that the show is attended by high-quality attendees with buying power and influence. Notably, Celentano shared that having big brands invite their current customers to the show for no cost led to the attendee base being strong for all of the exhibitors to do business.

Networking Opportunities

This year’s event was packed with exciting networking opportunities that brought attendees together while showcasing the world-class entertainment and F&B offerings of Las Vegas.

The annual Chairman’s Dinner took place at the Las Vegas Country Club, where early arrivals were able to take in the gorgeous views of the property while enjoying dinner outdoors. TSE Media Group Chairman Rick Simon emphasized the importance of the TSE events’ education while welcoming everyone to the 2024 edition of the event.

An off-site experiential trip to The Mob Museum, where the history of the mob is on full display with interactive exhibits, gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the impact of organized crime on American history. The event, sponsored by OnPeak, also included a presentation from Frank Calabrese Jr., a former mobster, who told his story about involvement in the Chicago mob, along with a distillery tour and tasting of moonshine.

For the opening reception, attendees headed to Jalisco Underground at Resorts World for a night of Latin music and dancing, as well as delicious food and tequila tastings. Attendees mixed and mingled at the swanky location and kept their energy high as they attended the after party at Gatsby on the property.

Grand Celebrations

The Fastest 50 Awards & Summit capped off with the annual awards gala, where the winners of this year’s Grand Awards were revealed as the Fastest 50 and Next 50 honorees enjoyed fine dining and mingling.

Before the dinner began, honorees were able to take photos with their accolades and enjoy small bites, like crab cakes and spring rolls, while gearing up for the awards announcements.

The metric-based Fastest 50 Grand Awards were announced Oscars-style, and winners included PGA Show, CES, The Pizza Tomorrow Summit and SOURCING at MAGIC Las Vegas. The National Retail Federation’s NRF: Retail’s Big Show took home the 2024 Rock Star Award, which highlights a show that not only experienced high growth but introduced innovative aspects to their show that helped lead to a strong performance.

Find all of the winners here.

Related. Trade Show Executive Reveals the 2024 Fastest 50 Grand Award Winners

The next TSE event — the 2024 Gold 100 Awards & Summit — will take place Sept. 17-19 at The Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara. For event information, check out the Gold 100 website.

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