IAEE Releases 2014 White Paper on Trade Show Trends

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Los Angeles, CA – Ready or not, an era of “big data” is intensifying, and what is known as BDaas is dawning for trade show organizers, according to the 2014 edition of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) annual look at the near-term trends in the industry.

Big data is one of the trends examined in “Future Trends Impacting the Exhibitions and Events Industry,” which was released this week at Expo! Expo!  It updates the 2013 report.

“The “Future Trends” white paper is a wonderful resource for exhibition and event professionals,” said IAEE President & CEO David DuBois. “Show organizers will want to take a look at how this information can be used to maximize the overall experience for attendees at their events.”

The collection and analysis of all manner of information about exhibitors and attendees is becoming a tool for show organizers to tailor their events and their marketing campaigns so that they click with their customers. “Future Trends” noted that the use of mobile apps, RFID name badges, iBeacons and other data-gathering technology has become more affordable and more common on the show floor.

Francis Friedman, president of the consulting firm Time & Place Strategies, Inc., chaired the IAEE Task Force responsible for the 2014 edition of “Future Trends.” He said at Expo! Expo! that people and companies with the skills and experience needed to plow through the information flooding the show floor was becoming steadily more accessible.

“Last year’s report predicted that big data would move down in scale for smaller marketers to use,” Friedman said. “We are beginning to see companies that provide BDaaS (Big Data as a Service) starting to become available to our industry in the near future.”

The term “big data” currently is taking root within big companies; firms that have the resources to collect large volumes of information. The majority of trade shows operate in a smaller pond, but the BDaaS providers are adapting their game and making themselves available to smaller organizations with smaller budgets.

Other Top Trends

“The trends that we reported in last year’s white paper are now maturing and appearing more consistently at exhibitions,” Friedman said.

  • The U.S. economy is growing at a modest but steady pace. Growth is projected at 2% in 2014 while consumers remain cautious about spending, and employers are conservative in their hiring. Even Asia is feeling the malaise.
  • The availability and cost of Wi-Fi and data infrastructure will remain a priority and concern among show organizers even as venues invest in upgrades.
  • The march of technology remains a challenge. Show organizers have to prepare for the arrival of cutting-edge concepts such as wearable technology, virtual-reality headsets and audio-visual capabilities.
  • Social media plays a greater role in show marketing. The technology is increasingly capable of handling graphics and videos. The white paper calls social media “an absolutely fundamental tool.”
  • The focus on digital engagement is not without risk. Show managers may have to remind themselves that exhibitions are experiences, and attendees still respond to the unique face-to-face experience a trade show offers.
  • Exhibitors are becoming more technology savvy, which raises the possibility that companies will lean their marketing more toward digital rather than participation in trade shows.

The IAEE white paper covers a total of 14 trends and is available at www.iaee.com.

Reach David DuBois at (972) 458-8002 or ddubois@iaee.org; Francis Friedman at (212) 879-6400 or tjfconsult@aol.com