This Just In

TSE’s Fastest 50 is This Week


Chicago, IL – “The stage has been set for the 2013 Trade Show Executive Fastest 50 Awards & Summit in Chicago, and all that remains is to see which show organizers will take home the coveted trophies for the fastest-growing exhibitions in the U.S.,” said Diane Bjorklund, vice president of events for Trade Show Executive Media Group.

A top-tier group of speakers from the industry will join the honorees at the downtown Swissôtel, along with attendees on hand to network and pick the brains of the executives whose events are setting the pace for the industry’s overall growth.

“The Fastest 50 shows are the standouts in an industry that has been on the rebound,” said Darlene Gudea, president of Trade Show Executive Media Group. “Most trade shows have grown in recent years, although in slow and deliberate fashion. The 2012 Class of the Fastest 50, howeverskyrocketed from six to ten times the typical trade show in 2012, truly earning the prestige that comes with making the Fastest 50 rankings,” she said.

Fast Start
The event begins with a hit. A group outing to the May 8 ballgame between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals at the landmark Wrigley Field will include great seats in the new Budweiser Bleacher Suite in center field. The Fastest 50 crowd will also see its name in lights on the scoreboard while enjoying what will no doubt be a perfect afternoon for baseball.

And the Cubs know the VIPs from the trade show industry will be in town. The team will send an official tour guide to provide insights and answer questions about the 98-year-old landmark. Some Cubs stars and/or management will also drop by to sign autographs, pose for pictures and chew the fat about America’s pastime. Cubs management will give Cubs hats to the Fastest Fiftiers and autographed balls, game balls and additional memorabilia to raffle throughout the game.

Up to four attendees will be chosen to be upgraded even further to “personal guest” status. That means an intimate pre-game tour of the ballpark, visiting the field during batting practice, the opportunity for unique photos in the on-deck circle, and watching the game from team owner Tom Ricketts’ personal seats.

Later in the evening, the opening reception at Chicagoland favorite Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse & Bar should get everyone acquainted and primed for the big day on May 9.

Interactive Discussions with Outspoken Delegates
The Thursday agenda begins with breakfast and then will dive into a program of speakers and panelists. They will explore the cutting-edge strategies and ideas that have helped the Fastest 50 shows increase their exhibit space, attendance and exhibitor counts at rates well above the average for the industry.

Contagious Keynote
Jonah Berger will open the day with a fascinating keynote address based on his research into the elusive goal of reaching the famed “tipping point” where the buzz about a show among attendees and exhibitors causes a snowball effect within the industry sector it serves.

Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, a Wall Street Journal best-seller. Berger  shares ideas on increasing the odds that a trade show will go viral and get the word-of-mouth boost that can lift a show to must-attend status.

Social media plays an increasing role in promoting the trade shows and other products that “catch on” within their industry sectors – and the honorees at the Fastest 50 are no strangers to thriving in cyberspace.

But Berger doesn’t look so much at “how” things go viral rather than “why.” After all, social media is in large part a platform for word-of-mouth advertising. So, just what is it that prompts people to tweet, blog, or even talk amongst themselves about one exhibition while filing and forgetting the marketing collateral for some other show?

Berger has condensed his findings into some valuable basic recommendations that can position a show where it is most likely to grow from initial concept to water-cooler topic to must-attend.

Panelists Talk Strategy

  • Inside Scoop.  Hugh Forrest, director of South by Southwest Interactive Festival, will provide a look at what makes the trendy Austin technology-and-media event one of the highest-profile exhibitions of the year.
  • Your Company, Your Show:  Buy, Sell or Hold? Britton Jones, president & CEO of Business Journals, Inc., will moderate a discussion on how to determine if it is time to buy, sell, or take on a partner for an up-and-coming show. What are the market signals that indicate it is time to make a move? Reed Exhibitions’ Greg Topalian and Ty Bobit of Bobit Business Media share their experience and the cues you should watch for.
  • Strategies of Fastest 50 Growth Leaders.  Industry leaders discuss what they are doing right now to keep their events on the fast track. Moderator Phil McKay, president & CEO of nGage Events, will be joined by Fastest 50 award winners Leslie Gallin of Advanstar Communications, Dana Teague of Hanley Wood Exhibitions and John Gallagher of Messe Frankfurt North America.
  • Power Lunch. Kerry Gumas, president & CEO of Questex Media Group, is Bob Dallmeyer’s guest on stage for an exciting live edition of TSE’s Power Lunch. Kerry’s experience at the helm of an integrated b-to-b media company will bring plenty of valuable insights to the table.
  • Is the Convention Center Model Broken? Changes are afoot in the longstanding relationship between show organizers and convention centers owned by cities that are urgently searching for new revenues. Advanstar’s Tony Calanca will be on the panel along with David Audrain of Clarion Events North America, Jim Rooney of the Massachusetts Convention Authority and Mark Zimmerman from the Georgia World Congress Center. TSE’s Danica Tormohlen will be the moderator.
  • Burning Issues. The popular audience-participation session wraps up the day with discussions on issues that were not covered in earlier sessions. Join moderator Kevin Johnstone and panelists Robbi Lycett of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Liz Crawford of Nielsen Expositions, and John Patronski of Global Experience Specialists (GES)  in a free-wheeling discussion of the top issues in the trade show industry.


In the evening, a glitzy reception will be sponsored by Choose Chicago. Attendees will have ample opportunities to socialize and ham it up in the run-up to the Fastest 50 awards ceremony on the red carpet and against the “step & repeat” backdrop.

The awards gala will reveal which shows have grown by leaps and bounds and earned the Fastest 50 Grand Award trophies for the top performances in each category. “The Fastest 50 honorees include shows that are just getting started and others that have been around for decades,” said Carri Jensen, manager of directories, who compiled and analyzed the data. “Large or small, the Fastest 50 shows are pacesetters that are as important to the exhibition industry as the Gold 100,” Jensen added.

So the red carpet is ready to be rolled out in Chicago. There is still time to reserve a seat at the TSE Fastest 50 Awards & Summit and salute the shows that are setting the pace for 2013. Learn how your trade show can be on the winning list for next year, too. See for details.


Who’s Coming to the Fastest 50? 
[Updated 5/1/13]

Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 serves as a scorecard that lets the industry know which shows are on the fast track with more exhibitors chasing bigger crowds of buyers. And the fastest-growing shows are not just the small and mid-sized ones; the Class of 2012 has strong representation from shows across the board:

–         3% are 1,000,000 nsf or larger;

–        12% range from 350,000 nsf to 999,999 nsf;

–        26% span 125,000 nsf to 349,999 nsf;

–         31% cover 50,000 nsf to 124,999 nsf; and

–         28% are 15,000 nsf to 49,999 nsf

From long-time experts to the 30-somethings rapidly rising to the top, this partial list of Fastest 50 registrants as of May 1 is a true reflection of the industry:

Access Intelligence, LLC: Don Pazour, president & CEOJenn Heinold, VP, events of OR Manager Conference

Advanstar Communications: Tony Calanca, executive vice president of exhibitionsLeslie Gallin, vice president of FN PLATFORM (Footwear News) – August, FN PLATFORM (Footwear News) – February

American Academy of Dermatology: Tim Moses, CMP, director, meetings & conventions, American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting

American Amusement Machine Association:  John Schultz, executive vice president, Amusement Expo

American Business Media: Claudia Flowers, vice president

American Coatings Association: Cheryl Matthews, VP, events and professional development, American Coatings Show & Conference

American Society of Plumbing Engineers:  Jim Kendzel, MPH, CAE, CEO & executive director and Cliff Reis, managing director

American Thoracic Society: Stacy Blackshaw, CEM, associate director, corporate alliances & exhibition operations, American Thoracic Society International Conference

American Sportfishing Association: Kenneth Andres, trade show director, ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades)

Association for Manufacturing Technology: Christine Rasul, vice president, International Manufacturing Technology Show

Association of Equipment Manufacturers: Rich Prausa, operations manager, AGG1 Aggregates Forum & Expo, World of Asphalt Show & Conference

Biotechnology Industry Organization: Robbi Lycett, CEM, VP, conventions & conferences, BIO International Convention

Bobit Business Media: Ty Bobit, president & CEO of Bobit Business Media; Kristen Messineo, senior event manager ofInternational LCT Show

Business Journals, Inc.: Britton Jones, president & CEO, AccessoriesTheShow – January, AccessoriesTheShow – February, Fame, Moda Manhattan, MRket and Sharon Enright, Vice President, Trade Show Division

Center for Exhibition Industry Research: Cathy Breden, COO

Clarion Events North America: David Audrain, president & CEO

Consumer Electronics Association:  Christine Franca, director, CES Marketing, International Consumer Electronics Show

Crain Communications Inc.: Christopher Crain, vice president/group publisher

Cygnus Business Media: Ed Nichols, vice president, Firehouse World

Diversified Business Communications: Mary Larkin, group VP of International Boston Seafood Show and Seafood Processing America; Liz Plizga, shows director of International Boston Seafood Show and Seafood Processing America

Food Processing Suppliers Association: David Seckman, president & CEO

Formula4Media, LLC: Troy Leonard, show director, The Running Event

GLM: Penny Sikalis, vice president, SURTEX

Hall-Erickson, Inc.: Carol Fojtik, managing director, MINExpo INTERNATIONAL© and managing director, EXHIBITOR2012

Hanley Wood Exhibitions: Dana Teague, Vice President, SURFACES/StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, and Donovan Shanahan, International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: Rob Bailey, senior director, sales, HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition

Helicopter Association International: Tina Jones, director of conventions, HELI-EXPO®

IMEX America: Kimberly Meyer, manager of strategic initiatives

International Association of Exhibitions & Events:  David DuBois, president & CEO

International Council of Shopping Centers: Tim McGuinness, staff vice president, global trade, RECon, The Global Retail Real Estate Convention

Institute of Food Technologists: Christine Klein, VP meetings & business partnerships of IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo;Tracy Garcia, director of exhibits of IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo

International Sanitary Supply Association: Kim Althoff, director of conventions, ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America

Jewelers International Showcase, Inc.: Michael Breslow, president, Jewelers International Showcase – January, Jewelers International Showcase – October

KJ Event Support: Kevin Johnstone, principal, and former director of trade shows for the National Association of Music Merchants

LIGHTFAIR International: Rochelle Burt,CEM, vice president

Lippman Connects: Sam Lippman, producer

Messe Frankfurt USA: John Gallagher, president & CEO, Texworld USA (Winter Edition)

National Catholic Educational Association: Amy Durkin, CEM, director of association events, NCEA Convention & Expo

National Electrical Contractors Association: Susan McCart, marketing manager, NECA Convention & Trade Show

National Retail Federation: Susan Newman, senior VP, conferences, Retail’s Big Show, Annual Summit

National Trade Productions, Inc.: Robert Harar, NTP chairman and Andrew Ortale, executive vice president of Coverings; ASPE Convention & Exposition;  EVS26 – Electric Vehicle Symposium

nGage Events:Phil McKay, president & CEO

Nielsen Expositions: Tim Fearney, Show Director, Retail Design Group and Liz Crawford, senior marketing director, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and show director, Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show

NürnbergMesse North America: Heather Kuznetz, event & marketing manager, American Coatings Show & Conference

Questex Media Group LLC: Kerry Gumas, president & CEO

Randall – Reilly: Alan Sims, VP & executive director of events of The Great American Trucking Show; Shane Elmore, chief process officer of The Great American Trucking Show

Reed Exhibitions: Greg Topalian, senior vice president of new business

Radiological Society of North America: Tom Shimala, director of technical exhibits

ROC Exhibitions, Inc.:  Marc Rosenstock, president

Sellers Expositions: Warren Sellers, president

South by Southwest Interactive Festival: Hugh Forrest, director

Specialty Graphic Imaging Association:  Michael Robertson, president & CEO, SGIA Expo

Specialty Coffee Association of America: Cindy Cohn, Director of Events

Tarsus Expositions, Inc.: Todd Fabos, marketing manager, OFFPRICE Show

Texas High School Coaches Association: DW Rutledge, executive director of Texas High School Coaches Association Convention; Joe Martin, assistant executive director of Texas High School Coaches Association Convention

Trade Press Media Group, Inc.: Todd Kotlarek, director of live events, National Facilities Management & Technology Conference & Expo

William T. Glasgow Inc.: Brian Glasgow, senior vice president, Amusement Expo

Wire Processing Expo: Richard A. Geyer, owner of National Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo

Have You Registered?

Participation in the Fastest 50  is not restricted to the honorees but open to all senior show executives and managers who want to explore new ideas and business opportunities.

Register at

Although the room block is closed, TSE is holding a few more rooms for late registrants.

Reach Darlene Gudea, TSE president at (760) 930-9111 or; Diane Bjorklund, TSE vice president of events, at (630) 312-8915 or