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Attendance Increases More Than 5% in June While Exhibitor Growth Stalls

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
August 3, 2015



Oceanside, CA – The June trade show calendar was dominated by a number of relatively smaller shows, which combined for some uneven, but overall bullish results for the month and the Second Quarter of 2015.

The amount of contracted exhibit space in June 2015 climbed a respectable 3.6% over June 2014, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. The number of exhibitors, however, was virtually unchanged from the previous year, ticking up a modest 0.1%. A healthy 5.1% increase in attendance was the leader of the three trade show growth indexes.

The performance contrasted with the June 2014 metrics, which was nearly half of this year’s growth in net square feet  (nsf). However, exhibitors were sharply higher, at a 2.8% growth rate.  Attendance was the laggard last year, increasing just 0.7%, one seventh of this year’s stellar performance.

The May 2015 numbers had exhibit space and exhibitors growing more than 4%, but attendance off (0.9)%.  Despite the herky-jerky ride, the longer-range picture for 2015 remained positive as Q2 ended on a definite upward note (see sidebar).

The June Dashboard included a total of 26 shows, ranging from InfoComm and its 517,143 nsf, on down to five shows that each featured less than 20,000 nsf. One show, the Government Fleet Expo & Conference in Denver, also checked in with 351 attendees, although that seemingly intimate crowd was actually a show record.

Smaller shows, in fact, were the dominant segment in June. Only seven of the 26 events surveyed were larger than 100,000 nsf, and four were still large enough to make the TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows.

After calibrating the metric totals to exclude outliers and those shows that were on a non-annual schedule, the Dashboard shows had an adjusted total of 2,474,684 nsf of exhibit space, 8,883 exhibitors and 276,580 attendees. That boiled down to an average per show of 145,570 nsf, 444 exhibitors and 12,025 attendees. In comparison, May featured 22 shows, but more than 5 million nsf of floor space and an average of nearly 26,000 attendees at each event.

Five shows were ranked on the TSE Fastest 50 roster of fastest-growing exhibitions; however, three of those reported declines in at least one metric. The Summer Fancy Food Show was one of the F50 shows untarnished by red ink, although its exhibitor roster and exhibit floor were unchanged from last year.

There were no Dashboard shows that declined in all three categories in June and in fact, nine of the 26 saw increases in all three metrics.

Growth Leaders

  • Techtextil North America spends every other year in Atlanta and ventures to another town in odd-numbered years. This year, Messe Frankfurt set up shop in Houston and came away with some numbers worthy of a Fastest 50 performance.  The brightest light was a 102.3% jump in exhibit space, although the floor was a cozy 17,700 nsf. Exhibitor numbers grew 95.9% to 145, and attendance was up 39.5% at 1,519, which was enough to produce some standing-room only crowds at the three-day symposium.
  • Sensors Expo & Conference landed in Southern California for the first time, and the result was a continuation of the growth that placed the Questex show on the Fastest 50. Exhibit space jumped 47.8% to 34,000. Exhibitor numbers increased 29.5% to 246, and attendance was up 5.0% at 5,482. International attendance gained 10%.
  • June Atlanta Apparel produced some metrics that were as stylish as the fashions on display at AmericasMart. Exhibit space grew 37.8% and reached 72,690 nsf. The number of exhibitors surged 34.5% to 316, and attendance was up 10.0% at 11,313. AMC, Inc. bills June Atlanta Apparel as the largest apparel show on the East Coast.

Innovation at InfoComm

It was a record year for exhibit space and attendance at InfoComm, the largest show of the month. The crowd of 39,105 in Orlando was an increase of 5.6% from last year. The show floor grew 5.0% to 517,143 nsf. There were also 950 exhibitors, just 0.3% larger than last year.

One exhibitor that will definitely be back in 2016 is Collaboration Squared, a videoconferencing software developer that won the show’s inaugural Innovation Showcase. The showcase feature was launched to spotlight new products that will make a splash in the audiovisual industry.

Innovation occurs rapidly in the AV sector that InfoComm serves, and show organizers went all out to attract the most promising products.  Collaboration Squared received a $10,000 cash prize, plus an allotment of free exhibit space at the 2016 show in Las Vegas. “Seeing groundbreaking products is a leading reason that professionals attend InfoComm every year,” said Jason McGraw, senior vice president of Expositions at InfoComm International. “It’s wonderful to have companies like Collaboration Squared capturing the imagination of InfoComm attendees.”

Top Cities

InfoComm was enough to land Orlando atop the leader board of host cities. The show covered 517,143 nsf, which gave Orlando a comfortable lead over Los Angeles. The City of Angels placed second, thanks to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and its 415,406 nsf. New York rounded out the podium with the Summer Fancy Food Show and its 361,000 nsf.  Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Philadelphia were the only other cities to host exhibitions with 100,000 nsf or more.

Next Month

September features two of the major shows in Emerald Expositions’ portfolio: Interbike and Surf Expo. Both Gold 100 shows have been moving upwards as consumer sales of bicycles and water recreation gear increase at a brisk pace.  Interbike is launching a two-day symposium at the show to help independent retailers “fit” their customers to the right-sized bike, which Interbike Vice President Pat Hus said “is one of the biggest advantages that independent dealers have over on-line retailers, and we wanted to elevate this aspect of our show.”

September also features GRAPH EXPO 15 in Chicago. The revamped management team at Graphic Arts Show Company is partnering with Cygnus Business Media to enhance media coverage before and during the show through Cygnus’ trade publications for the printing industry.

Meanwhile, IBEX, The International Boat Builders’ Exhibition & Conference will launch a number of new interactive displays at its show in Louisville, and PACK EXPO Las Vegas is expected to draw 30,000 visitors and top 800,000 nsf of exhibit space.