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  • 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.
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  • 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.

Trade Shows Narrowly Avoid Red Ink in Exhibitor Growth in May

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
July 1, 2014



Oceanside, CA – The metrics for May trade shows finished in the black, but the growth rate compared to the month before was modest at best.

In all three metrics categories of the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics, growth failed to break through the 2%. That contrasted with a much more robust April where exhibit space and exhibitors topped 4% and attendance was up a healthy 3.3%.

By comparison, May exhibit space was up 1.8% and the exhibitor count increased only 0.3%. Attendance in May perked up by a slight 1.6%.

Some of the Spring slump appeared to be the result of seven shows being excluded from the Dashboard’s adjusted totals for a variety of reasons, such as a biennial schedule or variances of more than 25% in their numbers. 

There were two dozen shows, including seven medical conferences and annual meetings, surveyed for the May Dashboard; eight of them were large enough to be ranked on the TSE Gold 100 list of largest U.S. trade shows. Four shows were excluded from the adjusted totals altogether and three others were held out of one of the Dashboard metrics.

Exhibit space in the adjusted totals finished just shy of 5 million net square feet (nsf) at 4,999,840 nsf. The number of exhibitors totaled 15,134 and attendance reached 424,986. The totals boiled down to an average of 263,149 nsf per show, plus 797 exhibitors and 22,368 attendees.

Despite the flat numbers for May, only two shows reported declines in all three metrics. And eight shows improved in all three categories.

Bullish on Hospitality

Two Gold 100 shows geared to the hospitality industry reported solid metrics.

Emerald Expositions said its Hospitality Design Exposition and Conference (HD Expo) attendance was up 5.8% at 14,664. Exhibitors grew 5.3% and the exhibit floor at Mandalay Bay was up 2.2% at 251,560 net square feet.

“It was clear this year that there is a revitalized state of excitement within the industry,” said Group Show Director Liz Sommerville. “We saw our most significant attendance numbers to date and welcomed innovative new exhibitors.”

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago increased its exhibit space 5.7% to 612,570 nsf and increased its exhibitor total by 4.4% to 2,170. Attendance from the hospitality sector was up nearly 13%. The NRA Show was again co-located with the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (ISWB), which this year launched a new pavilion for the growing craft beer industry.

Speaking of the microbrewery industry, VP International launched a new show for up-and-coming brewers in May. The inaugural Craft Beverage Expo in San Jose drew 1,300 attendees and spanned 18,000 nsf of exhibit space.

“The turnout was incredible,” said Executive Director Kellie Shevlin. “These folks work very hard at their craft and as small business owners, it can be challenging for them to get away, even for networking and educational purposes. We’re proud they chose our event to connect with like-minded people,” she said.

Growth Leaders

  • AISTech, which bagged a Grand Award for attendance growth at the Trade Show Executive Fastest 50 this year, turned in another good performance for 2014. The event’s exhibit space in Indiana-polis spiked 9.0% to a record 93,100 net square feet. At the same time, however, attendance was off (15.6)% at 6,982. The slippage was not a huge surprise since last year’s AISTech took place in Pittsburgh, the heart of steel country and easily accessible to day trippers.
  • American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego experienced a (5.9)% drop in attendance, but made up for it with the largest exhibit floor since 2008. Exhibitors grew 8.9% and the exhibit floor grew 15% to 49,100 nsf.
  • Nothing micro about growth stats for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) General Meeting. Attendees multiplied 14.3% over last year to 8,415 while exhibit space in Boston grew 10.8% to 48,300 net square feet. Booth sales were at an all-time high, and the schedule was tweaked to add some hours when attendees could walk the aisles without missing any sessions. The ASM used the meeting to announce the co-location of its chemotherapy conference with the International Society of Chemotherapy for Infection and Cancer’s International Congress of Chemotherapy. The joint conference will take place in San Diego on September 18-21, 2015.
  • Montreal Manufacturing Technology Show. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers reported that its biennial show for the Canadian manufacturing sector grew to 58,055 nsf, a 13.4% jump from 2012. Exhibits included the growing field of 3D printing. Show management held an evening networking event for atten-dees from small Montreal companies who could not get away from their shops during the day, but overall attendance drifted lower by (0.2)%. 

RECon Holds Steady

The largest May show was RECon, The Global Real Estate Convention, which last year was No. 14 on the Gold 100 with 793,400 nsf of exhibit space. The 2014 edition grew 2% to 809,400 nsf. Attendance in Las Vegas ticked 1.5% higher at 34,000 and the ranks of exhibitors increased by a grand total of one company, totaling 1,062.

The International Council of Shop-ping Centers (ICSC) over the years has fashioned RECon into a productive networking and deal-making forum for retail chains, shopping center developers, and financiers. Improving economic conditions in the U.S. has pushed more capital and new lenders into the domestic market at a time when more retail and grocery chains have re-focused and revved up expansion plans.

The ICSC says that about half of the significant shopping center deals struck annually in the U.S. take place at RECon, which has prompted brokers and other attendees to increase their company delegations. One brokerage network, Sperry Van Ness International Corp., said it had 100 of its people in Las Vegas for RECon with 750 individual meetings with potential clients on its schedule.

Top Cities

Las Vegas was the site for six shows which collectively spanned 2,435,260 nsf of exhibit space, four of which were on the Gold 100 roster. The NRA Show and the American Society for Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting put Chicago in the No. 2 slot with 1,134,370 nsf. Houston was in third place, thanks to Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) and its 680,025 nsf of exhibit space.

Next Month

The pre-Christmas rush is already underway across the U.S. with major shows in August geared toward consumer products that will fill store shelves this Fall.

NY Now said it expected as many as 600 new exhibitors for its August 16-20 run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Manhattan’s Pier 94. GLM will again be running the venerable gift show, but under its new ownership, Emerald Expositions.

MAGIC MARKET WEEK August brings designers and buyers from the fashion retail sector to Las Vegas in droves. Advanstar Communications broke the 1 million nsf barrier last year and estimated that $200 million in orders were written at the show each day.

Las Vegas also hosts Emerald’s ASD Las Vegas August merchandise show, which last Summer covered 664,229 nsf.

And finally, only at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market would exhibitors and attendees be able to hit the ground running at dawn for a nine-mile charity relay race around Salt Lake City before the show opens for the day.