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New Study Looks at Attendee Acquisition Costs & Practices

Danica Tormohlen
, Editor-at-Large
March 13, 2014
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Washington, DC – Trade show organizers report the average promotion cost per attendee is $30.70, according to the Attendee Acquisition Metrics & Practices Study produced by Exhibit Surveys Inc. and Lippman Connects and released at the Attendee Acquisition Roundtable in February. The study reveals that promotion expenditures average 13% of total event direct costs.

The online survey was emailed to 2,067 exhibition and event organizer professionals in January.

A majority of the respondents (60%) work for associations, with 40% representing independent organizers. The average event revenue for respondents was $6.8 million.

A total of 82 questionnaires were completed, a response rate of 4% with the maximum statistical error at a 95%, with a confidence level of ±11%.

“From a research perspective, we consider it directional in nature as opposed to necessarily representing the whole industry, but I think there are some interesting findings,” said Skip Cox, president and CEO, Exhibit Surveys Inc.

About half of marketing and promotion budgets are used for direct mail, e-mail and print ads, according to the study. E-mail is regarded as providing the best ROI. Print and social media are perceived as providing the worst ROI for events.

When it comes to social media marketing, two-thirds of respondents are using Twitter or Facebook with half using LinkedIn. However, only a few appear to be tracking actual registrations through social media channels.

There is a strong correlation between attendee promotion spending and net attendance, according to the study. “If your event already attracts a high proportion of potential attendees in the defined marketplace for your show, doubling your promotion spending obviously will not double your attendance,” the report noted. “But if your event is not reaching its full potential in the marketplace, and your acquisition cost per attendee is low, you may need to invest more on attendee acquisition to increase attendance.”

Reach Sam Lippman at (703) 979-4904 or; Skip Cox at (732) 741-3170 or

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