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CEIR/SISO Study Reveals How Young Professional Exhibitors Think

Sandi Cain
, News Editor
May 8, 2015
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Dallas, TX - The recently released 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) examined similarities and differences of industry professionals between the ages of 23-40 versus older exhibitors—and the results appear to be good news for the industry.

The study included questions about attitudes, preferences and habits relating to exhibitions, including decision-making about whether to exhibit or not, effective exhibiting tactics, communications preferences between exhibitors and organizers, preferences in the exhibit booth setting, and overall opinions about the value of exhibits.

“This particular study suggests the future of the industry is bright, though it also points out young exhibitors have unique preferences,” said CEIR President and CEO Brian Casey when the study was unveiled.

Nearly all – 98% -- of the 304 pre-qualified exhibitors chosen for the survey (based on their experience with trade show booths over the past two years) said they see a unique marketing value for trade shows that can’t be fulfilled through other channels. And 77% of these young exhibitors have some voice in the decision-making process about exhibiting at an event, with nearly half (45%) saying they have the power to recommend whether or not to exhibit.

Reasons for exhibiting cited by the most respondents are similar to answers provided by all exhibitors in other surveys: building product/brand/organization awareness (76%); reaching potential new clients (74%); and having a presence at an industry event (74%).

But this group also sees other benefits, such as shortening the sales cycle, closing sales at the show and finding new distributors.

Yet 71% of those surveyed said they have been involved in decisions to NOT exhibit at a show. This group cited cost (44%), and poor attendance quality or volume (41% and 40%) as the primary reasons to skip a show.

However, this group doesn’t care much about the show’s venue (15%), how far away the location is (14%) or how attractive the destination city is (10%). Conversely, among executive management professionals in a previous survey, 37% cited an unfavorable venue as a reason for not exhibiting.

When asked to name their most trusted sources for choosing an exhibition from among 22 options, 37% chose email from expo organizers; 23% chose the organizer’s website and 23% chose information from an industry association. Industry print publications were chosen as most trusted by only 11% of participants—but that choice ranked higher than industry e-news, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and text messages from expo organizers.

What Exhibitors REALLY Think of Social Media
Despite the fact that most show organizers have made an effort to include social media for all facets of their events, only 37% of survey participants said they use social media when looking for exhibitions. And only 10% of those who exhibit want to get any show updates via social media, regardless of whether those are pre-show, on-site, or post-show updates. Just 16% want phone calls about show updates.

For 39% of those surveyed, social media for events is shunned because they use it primarily for personal reasons. These results might partially explain a recent Exhibit Surveys study that revealed only 19% of show organizers report successful social media efforts.

There is a bit of crossover, however, when young professionals research events:  51% of the respondents said they use feeds tracking and 44% said they use social media websites in finding basic information about a show.

So what kinds of notices do they want before and after an exhibition? It turns out that 82% of those surveyed prefer to get information from organizers by old-school email during all stages of an event and 59% even prefer email updates at the show. However, roughly one-quarter prefer notices delivered to their exhibit booths.

Reach Brian Casey at (972) 687-9242 or bcasey@ceir.org

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