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CEIR Report Stresses Exhibitors’ Need for Audience Data

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
January 23, 2013
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Dallas, TX – Exhibitors have long insisted on quantifying their return on investment (ROI) to prove the value of a trade show, but a new study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) proposes the conventional wisdom on ROI – and return on objectives (ROO) -- might not tell the whole story. The latest offering in CEIR’s Guru Report Series argues there are factors other than the bottom line of orders written that exhibitors need to take into account when determining whether or not to take part in a future trade show.

The report, Beyond ROI and ROO:  Using Measurement to Enhance Decisions and Improve Exhibit Results, was authored by Joe Federbush, vice president of sales & marketing for Exhibit Surveys, Inc., and is available on the CEIR website library at no cost to members of CEIR and the international Association of Exhibitions and Events {and $24 for non-members.

"Every organization considering exhibiting should read this article before they begin an exhibition program,” said Nancy Drapeau, research director at CEIR. “And for those who are already exhibiting, it is worth a read to compare their practices with what this article recommends."

Federbush outlined five areas of consideration for exhibitors starting with analyzing the show’s target market and how well that meshes with the products to be displayed. From there, exhibitors need to examine some of the subtleties of both the show’s audience and their own marketing objectives if they want to make a decision based on something other than a cut-and-dried tally of sales.

These decisions require an in-depth profile of a show’s attendees, which would most likely come from data provided by the show organizer. For example, if the main audience at a particular event is zeroing in on new products and ready to place orders, then a higher level of sales can be expected and a higher level of participation can be justified by the exhibitor.

On the other hand, a show with an educational or networking slant for upper-echelon executives or attendees who may not have purchasing power would still justify participation but might warrant lower ROI expectations and a lower exhibit investment.

These factors can feed into the process of improving an exhibitor’s show strategy and making their expectations more in line with what the show can offer.

“While measuring bottom-line results is important, measurement should include all steps of the model,” the report said. “If ROI or ROO is unsatisfactory, what are the reasons?”

Reach Nancy Drapeau at (972) 687-9242 or; Joe Federbush at (732) 704-1322 or

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