This Just In

Trade Show Strength Gaining Momentum? TSE Dashboard Reveals Back-to-Back Increases in Exhibit Space and Attendance


Oceanside, CA – The size of the crowd and the show floor at trade shows grew for the second consecutive month in July, a welcome sign that exhibitions were making some steady headway out of the recession. The Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics, which will be released September 1, found that trade shows grew 3.8% in net square footage (nsf) and 9.2% in attendance in July when compared to the same time last year. The number of exhibitors remained relatively flat, suffering only a slight decline of (0.3)%, which did not particularly detract from the evidence of growing strength in the market.

The numbers continued the positive trend found in last month’s Dashboard of shows held in June, which posted across-the-board increases of 2% to 3%.

The adjusted total nsf for 23 shows held this July was 1,625,341, up from 1,566,000 nsf a year ago. The adjusted average exhibit area also increased to 73,879 nsf per event compared to 71,182 nsf in 2009.

One show not figured into the adjusted figures was the outlier SIGGRAPH, which appeared to have benefited tremendously by moving to Los Angeles. Hall-Erickson, Inc. said the closer proximity to its attendee pool of computer graphics and 3D technology executives contributed to a 105% jump in attendance to 22,539. That compared to approximately 11,000 attendees at last year’s show in New Orleans.  Exhibit space for the 2010 show was also up 16.0% to 46,500 nsf, while the number of exhibitors grew 22.4%.

Impressive gains in all three metrics were also reported at the largest show in the July Dashboard. The IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo (IFT2010), organized by the Institute of Food Technologists, reported a 47.8% jump in attendance over IFT2009 in Anaheim, a 28.6% increase in exhibitors and a 32.2% gain in exhibit space to 233,000 nsf. IFT2010 was held in Chicago, which is also closer to its attendee pool, the food processing industry.

Chicago was the top venue for trade shows held in July, claiming three of the Dashboard exhibitions. Neighboring Rosemont hosted two shows as did New York, Boston and San Antonio.

IFT2010 was also among 14 of 23 shows to report growth or no change in at least two of the three metrics. One other show topped 100,000 nsf, the AACC Clinical Lab Expo in Anaheim, which grew 5.9% to 199,600 nsf.

Medical events were again among the top industry segments in the , along with retail and technology.

Two events directly related to the trade show industry were included in the Dashboard and reported mixed results. The exhibit space at IAVM VenueConnect Annual Conference & Trade Show in Houston was down (5.7)% in nsf, while attendance was down (6.2)% and exhibitors slid (8.5)% to 247. Although the number of exhibiting companies decreased (29.1)% and exhibit space fell (10.7)% to 25,000 nsf at TS2 in Boston, attendance increased a dramatic 12.5% to 2,095, paving the way for a stronger event in 2011.

Government-sector shows appeared to experience some softness due to tight municipal budgets. The National Association of Counties’ NACo Annual Conference and Exposition in Reno saw its exhibit space dip a modest (6.7)% to 28,000 nsf, but attendance in the Biggest Little City in the World was up 15% at 2,300.

Cygnus Business Media cleverly instituted educational tracks at Firehouse Expo specifically for junior-ranking firefighters. The tracks were an incentive for fire departments to avoid limiting their delegations to senior staff. Attendance in Baltimore declined by a minimal (1.5)%, surpassing expectations.

TSE’s full Dashboard report will be available online on September 1, and will include quantitative and qualitative data on all the shows. It also features an in-depth analysis as well as monthly and quarterly graphs which trace historical  trade show performance. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the cover of the September issue and turning to page 26.

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