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Exhibit Space Surges 6.5%

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
June 1, 2015



Oceanside, CA – The trade show industry continued to pick up steam in April with a boost from The NAB Show. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) reported that their annual meeting topped the 1 million net square feet (nsf) threshold. NAB was one of the shows whose performance contributed to a hefty 6.5% increase in overall exhibit space sold, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics.

April, in fact, was a continuation of the robust performance chalked up in the first months of 2015. January and February were aglow with exhibit space gains of 4.5% and 5.8%, respectively. March floor space was up 2.8%, which generally matched the pace of growth for all of 2014, but in 2015, appears to be the sluggish outlier. April 2015 also outperformed April 2014, which saw a 4.3% increase in exhibit space.

There were 20 shows analyzed for the April TSE Dashboard. Along with the big jump of 6.5% in exhibit space, there was a 4.1% increase in the number of exhibitors and a 4.5% improvement in attendance.

Half of the shows surveyed reported increases in all three Dashboard metrics and only one event, International Coal Prep 2015, saw its numbers decrease across the board as the coal industry continued trying to dig itself out of its current slump.

After calibrating the metric totals to exclude outliers and non-annual shows, the TSE Dashboard showed an adjusted total of 3,650,275 nsf of exhibit space, plus 10,227 exhibitors and 255,874 attendees. On an adjusted per-show basis, April shows averaged 228,142 nsf, 602 exhibitors and 19,683 attendees.

The April Dashboard included eight shows that topped 100,000 nsf, and seven that were large enough in 2013 to earn a slot on the most recent TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows. Another four shows were on the TSE Fastest 50, three of which also made the Gold 100.

Growth Leaders

Coal may be in a funk, but the broadcast entertainment industry is humming, and a major beneficiary was the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

New technology and new players in the field have turned the NAB Show into an important hit. After a 4.1% increase in exhibit space last year, the NAB Show scored a 7.2% boost this April, climbing to 1,015,000 nsf. “Hitting the 1 million nsf mark is a testament to the show’s continuing relevance in an age of rapid advances in technology and changes for media and entertainment,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president of conventions and business operations.

The NAB Show, one of the three Dashboard events ranked on both the Gold 100 and Fastest 50, also increased its exhibitor total by 3.7% to 1,789 and its attendance by 4.5% to an estimated 73,306. International attendance was again strong, and the exhibit floor featured a new pavilion dedicated to camera-carrying drones. “Our growth has been reflective of the NAB Show’s ability to adapt and deliver fresh perspectives on innovative companies and technologies,” Brown said.

Other growth leaders:

  • Coverings, another Gold 100/Fastest 50 show, continued its winning ways in April. The show rotated into Orlando after a three-year absence and came away with an 18.6% increase in floor space to 420,850 nsf. Attendance spiked 26.3% to 24,785. The number of exhibitors grew 9.4% and reached four figures with 1,056 companies. National Trade Productions saw increased participation from stone-and-tile retailers, installers and fabricators. “This was our largest show since 2008,” said Karin Fendrich, COO of National Trade Productions. “We have had more than a dozen successful shows in Orlando, and we look forward to building on this year’s achievements when the show moves to Chicago in 2016.”
  • HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition, also a Gold 100 and Fastest 50 event, increased its attendance by 11.5% to 43,070, which included a higher number of C-level executives. Exhibiting companies jumped 9.1% this year. More exhibitors meant more space, and the HIMSS floor was up 12.8% to 610,096 nsf.
  • SAE World Congress unveiled its new hands-on Tech Hub area on the exhibit floor in Detroit, and it appeared to be as big of a hit as tailfins once were with the automotive engineering crowd. Exhibit space totaled 52,200 nsf, a 61.1% jump over last year. The number of exhibiting companies was up 10% from 2014. Attendance also improved by 2.3% with a total of 11,320 on hand.
  • The biennial Clean Show expanded its schedule to four days after some extensive off-year customer research. The move, engineered by Riddle & Associates was a prudent one that contributed to across-the-board gains in all metrics.

Attendance in Atlanta hit 11,264, a sweet 9.4% pop from the 2013 show in New Orleans. The fourth show day ensured that the visitors would have more time to peruse the booths while not missing out on the networking and 33 hours of educational sessions geared to the dry cleaning and coin-operated laundry industry. Exhibitors also responded, increasing in number by 3.6%. Exhibit space was basically flat at 195,400 nsf, but organizers said that they were pleased with the outcome. “Clean 2015 exceeded our expectations with huge crowds, dynamic exhibits and the kind of education and networking that can only be found at The Clean Show,” said Brian Wallace, chairman of this year’s show and president of the Coin Laundry Association.

Top Cities

The NAB Show was more than enough for Las Vegas to stake the top spot in terms of trade show exhibit space occupied in April. The NAB Show was one of four Las Vegas events that totaled 1,610,325 nsf, roughly one third of the entire Dashboard total for the month. ISC West, ISA International Sign Expo and the NAB Show were all TSE Gold 100 shows in Vegas that month.

The second spot went to Chicago, which hosted HIMSS with 610,096 nsf. Indianapolis placed third with the Fire Department Instructors Conference and its 454,459 nsf of exhibit space.

Next Month

The July show calendar is a mid-Summer dream with plenty of Gold 100 and Fastest 50 shows as well as consumer and corporate events.

The highest-profile event of the month will likely be Comic-Con International, which is already sold out and has yet to commit to remaining in San Diego or decamping for more spacious digs up the freeway in Anaheim or Los Angeles.

Cosmoprof North America is bringing back its collaboration with a trio of home-shopping television networks and expecting more than 27,000 attendees for its Las Vegas show.

Las Vegas will also host the Gold 100 AWFS Fair for the woodworking industry. Organizers have been making an extra push to bring in buyers and exhibitors from the plastics industry to fill out the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

SuperZoo, which made the Gold 100 and Fastest 50, seeks to top last year’s record attendance in Las Vegas. Another Gold100/Fastest 50 event — the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo — had more than 700 exhibitors signed up before Summer began with around 200 product launches waiting in the wings. The meeting is in Atlanta, home of a thriving biotechnology industry and the top-tier laboratories of the Centers for Disease Control.

Finally, the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo projected 240,000 nsf for its show in Chicago and the School Nutrition Association holds its national conference, which made the Fastest 50, during the same week in Salt Lake City.