IAEE Survey Sees Slightly Cooler Optimism Over Public Events

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Dallas, TX – Organizers of public shows were a little less bullish as post-recession attendance and revenue growth cooled last year, a new report from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) revealed.

The Public Events Industry Report: 2014 Results was released in April and concluded that more consumer show organizers were seeing smaller crowds and less revenue, although a solid majority still pegged their metrics at improved or unchanged levels from 2013.

Attendance was a particular concern with 23% of shows saying their crowds were smaller than expected in 2014 compared to just 2% who said so in 2013. But 77% reported that their attendance was better, or at least unchanged.

Revenue trends followed a similar path last year. The percentage of shows where revenues slumped rose from only 5% in 2013 to 13% last year. Shows where revenues improved or remained the same totaled 87% in 2014 compared to 95% in 2013.

“While there is no immediate cause for concern, these two metrics will bear watching in 2015,” the report said.

Analysts at IAEE said the best news in the report, which is available at no charge to IAEE members, was that public events remained healthy overall and organizers had pushed the state of the economy down further on their lists of concerns for the near term.

“Public events are performing as expected or even better,” said IAEE President & CEO David DuBois. “We are seeing more new launches as the economy improves, as well as more normal staffing patterns and a return to the routine challenges that have always been around.”

The major challenges facing most organizers were the age-old ones of securing venue space; increased competition; and building up the attendee base for their shows. On the horizon, was concerns that tech-savvy Millennials might prefer web-surfing for products for home, garden and hobbies rather than traveling to a show.

Those potential obstacles, however, were not enough to cause public shows to pull back. In fact, 2014 was the first year that new events were launched in each of the 22 industry sectors included in the annual survey that was launched by IAEE’s Public Events Council in 2009.

The report was compiled from surveys sent to 361 consumer event organizers. A total of 48 responded with details on 171 new and existing events that took place in 2014. The 22 industry sectors covered the wide gamut of enthusiast and consumer shows; festivals and fairs; expos for senior citizens; computer shows; and agricultural events.

Reach David Dubois at (972) 458-8002 or ddubois@iaee.com