by Jannat Choudhury

Change is inevitable. From an unpredictable presidential election to a strategic shift in our own organization, CEIR has provided countless insights for the exhibitions and events industry on how to adapt in a constantly changing society. As the year comes to an end, CEIR reflects back on the hours of research and work put forth to inform our dedicated readers, like you, on why the exhibitions and events industry will continue to be a relevant and gainful marketing avenue in today’s technologically advanced world.

In this blog post, we recap the exciting research we have released in 2016:

Three new series

  • 2016 Digital Tool Kit to Enhance the Attendee Experience
  • 2016 Attendee Retention Insights
  • 2016 Changing Environment of Exhibitions

Two new reports in the Industry Insights Series

  • 99 Cost-saving Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM
  • Cultivating an Innovative Culture and Mindset, Even in Mature Industries by Greg Topalian

2016 CEIR Index and 2015 Exhibition Industry Census

2016 Digital Tool Kit to Enhance the Attendee Experience. In a world where technology is constantly advancing, organizers and brand marketers are facing the dilemma of which digital solutions are worth the resources and time to reach their target audience. CEIR has provided four different reports on key insights for event exhibitors and organizers on what digital essentials are needed to maximize the attendee experience during their business-to-business journey.

Organizer Pre-event Communications and Registration Offerings focuses on exhibition organizer pre-event offerings, including digital attendee marketing tactics, digital registration offerings and pre-event planning tools made available on their websites.

Fun fact: Seventy percent of attendees found the event website as the most important resource.

Exhibitor Offerings compares what attendees want and what exhibitors are offering so that exhibitors can see what improvements can be made to ensure better shows in the future.

Did you know? Digital multichannel mix is a must have to reach and attract attendees.

Attendee Technology Profile provides a technology profile of attendees: their attitudes towards technology, mobile app habits, digital device preferences for business use in general as well as when attending business-to-business exhibitions.

Tip: Attendees would rather wait for technology to mainstream than try something new. If a new digital solution comes out, it would be wise to wait on utilizing that solution right away until it gains a significant audience and follower base.

Exhibition Organizer Onsite and Post-Event Offerings compares attendee preferences to exhibition organizer digital offerings during an attendee’s journey on-premise and post-event, including an exhibition’s mobile app, other on-premise digital offerings and post-event communications.

Missed opportunity: Although a majority of attendees do not mind being tracked, a significant number of organizers do not track their attendees. Without tracking the attendees, organizers are missing out on opportunities on gathering and analyzing data to sustain their events in the future.

2016 Attendee Retention Insights. The Attendee Retention Insights series, consisting of five reports, offers organizers a comprehensive resource to help understand the profile of attendees that visit an exhibition repeatedly and the content that turns them into a loyal fan base. Included in these reports are helpful charts that compare repeat attendee wants and preferences to trade show offerings, which help organizers understand what needs are met and where gaps exist in the offerings.

Part One: Basics for Creating Your Attendee Retention Strategy: Tracking, Profiling and Why They Come Back includes an overview of attendee tracking efforts engaged in by top ranked organizers of U.S. trade shows and how they build attendee retention strategies. It includes key profile characteristics of repeat attendees, who they are and why they become loyal visitors to an exhibition.

What’s in a name? The popular definition used by the majority of exhibition industry for “retention” is defined as those who attend at least two of the past four editions of an exhibition.

Part Two: Exhibition Floor Features that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience profiles exhibition floor features that drive repeat attendance.

Quality over quantity: The quality of face-to face interactions with booth staff and quality of product interactions builds loyal alumni.

Part Three: Education Content that Builds a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience profiles education offerings that drive repeat attendance, including education formats, topics and speakers.
Did you know? Ninety-three percent of exhibition organizers say events offer education sessions, but only 39 percent attend the education sessions.

Part Four: Special Activities and Amenities that Build a Loyal Alumni Attendee Audience identifies special amenities and activities made available by exhibition organizers that motivate attendees to frequent an exhibition regularly.

The more, the merrier: Over two-thirds of alumni attend an event with others from their organization.

Part Five: 11 Real-world Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizer Approaches to Attendee Retention Efforts showcases case studies from 11 different business-to-business exhibition organizers on their approaches on how to turn attendees into loyal visitors.

Spoiler: One of the approaches is targeted and segmented marketing.

2016 Changing Environment of Exhibitions. Since the Great Recession of 2008, the exhibition industry has shown consistent, positive growth. With the world becoming more tech-savvy, exhibitions and events must evolve to remain a relevant marketing tactic. Ten fact sheets highlight the importance of exhibitions and events in the marketing mix, despite growing tendencies towards digital marketing tactics.

Fact Sheet One: Exhibitions Are Highly Valued in Achieving Marketing and Sales Objectives identifies the most urgent, high priority marketing and sales objectives exhibiting companies are striving to achieve today. It reports on how valuable exhibitors find using business-to-business exhibitions to help achieve these objectives.

Did you know? One of the top priority marketing objectives is targeted business sector promotions.

Fact Sheet Two: Marketers Intend to Maintain or Expand Number of Exhibitions reports on the level of exhibition participation today compared to several years ago, as well as exhibitor plans for exhibiting in the next several years.

Good news: The outlook for the business-to-business sector is positive, with modest growth expected in the next several years.

Fact Sheet Three: Marketers Find Exhibitions an Essential Marketing and Sales Tactic documents current sales and marketing practices of exhibiting companies, revealing extensive integrated marketing efforts.

Fun fact: Business-to-business exhibitions rank second as a marketing and sales tactic being used, and are identified as the primary channel by 77 percent of surveyed exhibitors.

Fact Sheet Four: Exhibitions Deliver Unique Value Not Provided by Other Marketing Channels provides insights into why business-to-business exhibitions enjoys high ranking as a primary marketing and sales tactic in today’s world of integrated marketing.

Wow! Virtually all surveyed exhibitors–97 percent–identified one or more unique values this channel delivers.

Fact Sheet Five: Exhibitions Valued for Marketing Hard-to-Reach Industry Sectors and Professionals documents what percentage of exhibitors face the major task of extensive marketing efforts to reach their target industry sectors or professionals and the high value these exhibitors place on using the business-to-business exhibition to reach these target audiences.

Problem: Roughly half of exhibiting companies face the major task of extensive marketing efforts to reach their targeted industry sector or professional.

Solution: Business-to-business exhibitions!

Fact Sheet Six: Factors that Drive the Decision to Exhibit documents the factors exhibitors use when making exhibiting decisions, including whether to exhibit or expand participation as well as whether to reduce the level of participation or discontinue exhibiting. This fact sheet offers essential benchmarks for exhibition organizers and exhibitors.

Spoiler: Quality of attendance is the most influential face in persuading a company to exhibit or expand participation.

Fact Sheet Seven: Positive Outlook of an Industry or Company Linked to Increased Exhibition Activity explores the relationship between exhibitor executive perceptions about the state of the global and U.S. economies as well as the outlook of their industry sector and company. Results indicate that the more positive the outlook an exhibitor has about one’s industry sector or one’s business, the greater the level of participation reported in business-to-business exhibitions.

Tip: Results indicate that the more positive the outlook an exhibitor has about one’s industry sector or one’s business, the greater the level of participation reported in business-to-business exhibitions.

Fact Sheet Eight: Exhibitions Foster Business Relationships dives into how business relationships are evolving in today’s dynamic and digitally transformative times. It identifies how business-to-business exhibitions support exhibitor business relationship objectives in this environment.

Lifesaver: In a world drowning in information, exhibitions are an especially valuable tactic utilizing interpersonal marketing.

Fact Sheet Nine: Use of Exhibitions and Exhibitor Sales Channel reflects positive linkage between sales channels and participation in business-to-business exhibitions. It profiles exhibition company sales channel practices and differences by industry sector.

Boosting the economy: The exhibition channel continues to prove that it is a valuable channel in driving business growth.

Fact Sheet Ten: Exhibitor Profile – Overall Compared to Power Users highlights similarities and differences between exhibitors in general and power users of the business-to-business exhibition channel. It includes a snapshot of key profile characteristics and motivations for exhibiting.

What’s in a name? Power users are defined as companies that exhibit at 20 or more exhibitions annually.

Industry Insights. With such a vast and diverse membership, CEIR appreciates insights from leaders in the forefront of the exhibition and events industry. In order for the industry to be successful for many years to come, the industry must thrive on change and innovation. For their contribution to the Industry Insights series, CEIR gives our sincerest gratitude to our guest authors – Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM and Greg Topalian.

99 Cost-savings Tips and Tricks for Exhibit Managers, by Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM. Candy Adams is a revered and well-known exhibition industry veteran and owner of “The Booth Mom®” Trade Show Consulting. Key takeaways from this report include:

  • As events and exhibitions are increasing in terms of size, costs are on the rise. Adams provides ways to get more bang for your buck when putting on an exhibition.
  • With cost cutting, that does not mean the quality of the event will suffer. This report provides valuable cost saving tactics without compromising the impact of the exhibition.

Cultivating an Innovative Culture and Mindset – Even in Mature Industries, by Greg Topalian. Greg Topalian has been an industry leader driving innovation in the exhibition industry over the course of nearly 20 years. Expect to hear more new developments from Greg through his current venture with LeftField Media LLC, which he co-founded and where he serves as President. In the report, Topalian gives four guiding principles on how to break out of the status quo and truly innovate. Each principle comes with a case study exemplifying their respective principle.

  • Be intellectually curious: “Minds are like parachutes, they work best when open.”
  • Your [company] size does not matter.
  • Customers have all the answers.
  • Act like a launch.
  • Innovation is not a science; it is a way of seeing the world!

2016 CEIR Index Report & 2015 CEIR Census. The CEIR Index Report was developed to provide an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry. It is the leading industry resource tracking overall market performance of business-to-business exhibitions in the United States. It offers a valuable tool for strategic planning, benchmarking and evaluating business development opportunities. The 2015 CEIR Census provides information on where and when exhibitions are held, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer. The Index and the Census are the two of the most powerful research tools offered to the exhibition industry.

Spoiler Alerts:

  • The industry has continued to outperform the macroeconomy for seven quarters straight.
  • The performance shown in the 2016 CEIR Index Report represents the fastest sustained growth in the history of the CEIR index.

Looking back on all the changes in 2016, CEIR is looking forward to tackling on new challenges and providing substantial research for the exhibition and events industry in 2017. CEIR wants to thank every one of our loyal readers for trusting us in providing ground-breaking research on the exhibitions and events industry. We at CEIR wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Jannat Choudhury is Marketing Manager at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). She can be reached at

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