Location, Cost Cited As Top Reasons For Not Attending

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Dallas, TX – Trade show attendees cite a variety of reasons for deciding not to come back, but what it really boils down to is time, money, and above all, location.

A survey of trade show attendees by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) concluded that inconvenient venues and high costs were by far the main reasons given by attendees for their decision not to go back the following year. CEIR polled 421 show attendees for a report titled, How to Stop Attendee Loss.

CEIR reports that 36% of the respondents had made the decision to not attend one or more trade shows in the past two years. Of that group, 60% said their decision was based on the location of the show being too far away. Another 43% said the cost was prohibitive, or their company did not have the budget. And 29% said the show days did not work into their schedule.

The good news is that show organizers can control some of these factors. “Where organizers can make changes or address factors that make a location convenient for a prospective attendee, it is worthwhile exploring,” according to the report.

But other factors may be more difficult to address. “Budget, the second most frequent reason given, is affected by total cost of attending, including travel, hotel, and other factors that vary by location,” said the report.

Of the top 10 reasons for deciding not to attend, the quality of educational content was the only reason directly related to what goes on inside the convention center to be ranked in the top five. Concerns about the types of products on display, the number of exhibitors and the reputation of the show were voiced by fewer than 20%.

Location and travel time also likely played into concerns about being away from the office too long, which was cited by 25% of the respondents as a reason to say no to a show.

It seems the key decision-makers are the ones most likely to decide to skip an exhibition. In fact, 50% of respondents with decision-making authority said they had made the decision to stay home at one time or the other. Another 34% of attendees, described as having an influence on their company’s purchasing decisions, took a pass as well.

While not the kind of news exhibitors and show managers want to hear, CEIR noted that 17% of the executives polled did not attend a show because someone else from their company had been assigned to go instead of them.

“The most important finding is that the differences by buying role are significant with decision-makers being the group most likely to choose an exhibition to drop or avoid,” said the report. “Retention and attraction of deciders are critically important to the life of an exhibition, as this is the most desirous group based on influence in the decision.”

CEIR also said the attitude among higher-ranking executives was not particularly surprising. A previous CEIR survey found that decision-makers were also more likely to search for new events to add to their schedule. “Deciders are more active in searching for events that best meet their current needs,” the report said. “The challenge for organizers is to avoid being placed on the ‘do not visit’ list.”

How to Stop Attendee Loss is available on the CEIR web site at no cost for members. Non-members may purchase a copy for $49.

Reach Nancy Drapeau, CEIR director of research, at (207) 332-9839 or ndrapeau@ceir.org