This Just In
  • TSE took home three top regional Azbee Awards for excellence in journalism including a gold in the group profile category.
  • Tunnel excavation is complete for the LVCC Loop & on track for CES in Jan. Shuttle to take 2 minutes to move attendees across campus.
  • Gregg Caren, EVP of Sales & Strategic Business Development at ASM Global appointed to PHLCVB President and CEO. Official start date June 8.
  • UFI releases framework for a unified approach for show management to reopen shows, advocate with policy makers post COVID19 pandemic.
  • Germany excludes exhibitions from “mass gatherings”category, gives states authority to open shows, N. Rhine-Westphalia to open shows in May.
  • Freeman launches Go LIVE Together--a coalition with more than 80 founding members from 113 countries Visit: to join.
  • ASPBE recognizes TSE as national finalist for overall excellence in cross-platform reporting and four other prestigious Azbee Awards.
  • ISSA’s Global BioRisk Advisory Council launches the GBAC STAR accreditation program which cleans for infectious agents, such as COVID-19.

Beating the Terrible 2%; Metrics Pick Up Steam in Critical Month of May

Darlene Gudea
, President

Carol Andrews
, Editor-at-Large

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
July 1, 2013



Oceanside, CA – May was a good month for big shows. The 22 exhibitions in the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics produced some solid percentage gains over May 2012, and it was quality growth centered on key major shows.

The number of exhibiting companies rose 2.9% in May compared to the same month a year earlier. The news was even better in the other metrics. Net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space climbed 3.3% and attendance jumped a solid 5% from 2012, one of the largest month-over-month increases in a year in which growth in the 2% to 3% range has been the rule. 

Ten of the 22 Dashboard shows reported gains or held steady in all three metrics. Twelve shows, however, declined in at least one of the three metrics, with medical shows in particular taking a beating. Six medical shows faced declines, ranging from (1.4)% to a stinging (21.1)%. Some shows in retail, hospitality and energy also dropped significantly. 

The Big and the Bold

Seven of TSE’s Dashboard shows in May were large enough to be ranked on the TSE Gold 100 list of the largest U.S. trade shows. Of the 22, a dozen were 100,000 nsf or larger. There were also eight shows on the TSE Fastest 50 roster of shows with the most robust growth.

For the Dashboard statistical analysis, TSE used adjusted figures, which excluded outliers. Four of the 22 shows were considered outliers and excluded because their gains or losses were dramatically atypical, with growth or contraction exceeding 25% in at least one of the Dashboard metrics. 

As a result of subtracting the outliers from the totals, we calculated an adjusted total of 4,098,071 nsf of exhibit space, 13,220 exhibiting companies, and an attendance of 386,061 in the May Dashboard. The average show in May was 204,904 nsf, and drew 630 exhibiting companies and 19,303 attendees.

Growth Leaders

  • AISTech - The Iron & Steel Technology Conference & Exposition thrived in Pittsburgh, the steel industry’s U.S. mecca. Exhibit space climbed 18.6% over last year’s show in Atlanta, but attendance growth was the real star, up 89.3% to 8,270. A large menu of technical presentations helped lure a bigger crowd.
  • The American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting may have been down by three exhibitors compared to 2012, but attendance was up an amazing 25.5% to 13,949 in San Francisco. Sessions targeted issues related to diverse populations and also featured a special track on addiction.
  • Battcon International Stationary Battery Conference, organized in Orlando by Albercorp, a manufacturer of batteries, was a fairly small show at 25,000 nsf. But it grew a whopping 42.9% in nsf from last year and was coupled with a 7.1% increase in exhibiting companies.
  • GLM’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City marked its silver anniversary with double-digit increases in exhibit space (13.8%) and attendance (12.3%), and an exhibitor count that was higher by a respectable 6.5%. “The extent of the show’s global reach was stellar,” said Alexandra Cabat, sales manager. “There were 230 first-timers on the show floor, plus an entirely new category of exhibitors: the fabricators.” The increased presence of production-oriented exhibitors also included a demonstration area where attendees could see machinery and technology in action. Manufacturers were brought together with up-and-coming designers at the ICFF Studio, which provided GLM with another sponsorship offering.
  • The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) reported a growth rate of 17.2% in attendance, from 89,400 to 104,800, which was the second largest attendance in show history (See additional impressive gains under “Booming Big Shows” below).

Booming Big Shows

The largest show on the Dashboard was RECon, The Global Retail Real Estate Convention, which also reported one of the larger increases in floor space among the May shows surveyed. The show ranked as the 8th largest show in the nation in the most recent TSE Gold 100 ranking. The International Council of Shopping Centers said its exhibit space expanded 7.2% this year and covered 793,200 nsf in three halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The number of attendees also increased 1.5% but the exhibitor count was off (4.4)% at 1,061. The growth of the show appeared to be tied to bullishness in the retail industry. Analysis presented at the show indicated major malls were enjoying enough of a rebound in business to attract big-ticket investors back into the shopping-center market.

RECon was not the only large, established show to win rave reviews in the Dashboard. Two other perennial Gold 100 events were also booming this Spring.

The OTC spanned a record-breaking 654,585 nsf of exhibit space, which was up 2.2% from 2012’s floor. International companies made up 39% of the 2,728 exhibitors who set up shop inside and outside Reliant Park. Attendance participation — 104,800 delegates — was at a 30-year high. 

The high price of oil has been justifying exploration in challenging waters, and that requires the cutting-edge gear on display at the OTC, which made the most recent rankings in the TSE Gold 100 (#19 in the rankings) and the TSE Fastest 50 (#43 in attendance growth). “Technology is at the heart of the offshore industry and it was all here on display at the OTC 2013,” said OTC Chairman Steve Balint.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) reworked its marketing campaign for the NRA Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show to focus on individual business issues affecting the restaurant business, including healthcare reform, sustainability and nutrition for children. The strategy raised the visibility of the education component at a time when the still shaky economy might make restaurateurs a little leery about capital investments. 

The icing on the cake was a 1.7% increase in attendance, which topped 62,000, and a 6.7% increase in exhibit space to 579,330 nsf.

Top Cities

Las Vegas was as busy as ever in May and earned the top spot among Dashboard host cities. Five Dashboard shows totaling 1,826,286 nsf took place there during the month of May, including three Gold 100 events.

Chicago hosted the second-highest total of net square footage with two Dashboard shows — NRA Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show and the American Wind Energy Association’s AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition — together totaling 746,930 nsf. Houston held the No. 3 spot by virtue of the OTC and its 654,585 nsf.

Next Month

Summer kicked in across the U.S. with a relatively slower pace. However, three TSE Gold 100 shows are on the docket in June including the Summer International Fancy Food & Confection Show in New York at the end of the month. About 2,400 exhibitors were expected to unveil a dizzying 180,000 products,

The Clean Show and Infocomm are also on the schedule along with the United States Bowling Congress Bowl Expo in Las Vegas.