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Exhibitor Growth Leads Increases in June

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
August 1, 2014



Oceanside, CA – Attendance growth was almost negligible in June, but exhibitors grew at a healthy clip, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. The number of exhibitors participating in shows in the first full month of Summer rose 2.8% from June 2013 levels, and also increased the amount of exhibit space by 1.9%. The attendance metric was the underperformer, growing a modest 0.7%. 

Even in a case where the exhibitor roster at a show declined, there was still evidence of enthusiasm among the sellers. The American Physical Therapy Association NEXT Conference & Exposition reported a (34.6)% drop in the number of exhibitors at its show in Charlotte, but the 117 remaining exhibitors took 21,000 net square feet (nsf) of space, a 19.3% jump from the previous year. In similar fashion, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles — a Trade Show Executive Gold 100 and Fastest 50 show — lost (11.3)% of its exhibitors, but exhibit space grew 3.4% over last year to 395,651 nsf.

A total of 26 June shows were analyzed for the TSE Dashboard. Five of them were ranked on the Fastest 50 list of fastest-growing U.S. shows. Nine shows had 100,000 nsf or more of exhibit space, and six were large enough for the Gold 100. Seven shows were excluded from at least one Dashboard metric category due to omitted data or because they were outliers with increases or decreases of 25% or more in at least one category.

The adjusted totals for the month reached 4,424,076 nsf of exhibit space, 12,276 exhibitors, and 310,262 attendees. That boiled down to an average of 170,157 nsf of exhibit space per show along with 534 exhibitors and 16,330 attendees.

Eight shows reported growth in all three metrics while four others were in the red in all three categories.

Mixed Results for Farm Progress

The largest show of June did not set a clear direction for the overall Dashboard. Instead, the metrics for Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina went in different directions: up, down and unchanged.

The number of exhibitors increased a solid 7.6% over 2013, but exhibit space held steady at a still-healthy 1,232,670 nsf. Attendance slid (9.6)% from last year’s near-record of 43,947. Show organizers said prodigious rains that fell in Saskatchewan over the course of the indoor-outdoor show likely cut into attendance.

The Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. said that buyer-seller interaction was boosted by more than 700 international buyers that made the trip, rain or shine. “We have built a reputation that this show is the place to come see it all for the latest in dry land agriculture tech-nology,” said Ken Taylor, director of trade and consumer shows. “We know this message is getting out because we are also attracting a high quality of buyers and sellers.”

Growth Leaders

  • ICE/ENDO 2014 is the joint annual meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. The event drew a record attendance of 11,200, a 10.9% improvement over last year. Exhibitors grew right along with the crowd, increasing 16.3% to 157. Exhibit space was up 20% at 30,000 nsf.
  • The NBM B.I.G. Show put on a performance worthy of winning next year’s Fastest 50 award. Exhibit space totaled 41,000 nsf, which was an impressive 21.6% improvement over last year’s edition. Exhibitors were up 11% at 181. Attendance improved 12.4% and topped 8,000. National Business Media holds two B.I.G. Shows annually in different cities. The second 2014 show is in September in Philadelphia, just three months after the June show in Indianapolis.
  • NEXT Conference & Exposition experienced significant declines in attendance and exhibitor count, but the 19.3% increase in exhibit space certainly help-ed offset the losses. NEXT was recently rebranded and now offers continuing education units both on site and through the virtual version of the conference, which was available to association members after the show closed.
  • Impressive gains were also reported in Rosemont where the 2014 Sensors Expo & Conference, a Fastest 50 event, increased its attendance by 12.7% and exhibit space 5% to 23,000 nsf. The show rotates to Long Beach next year. “We are looking forward to bringing this event to Long Beach, which is within the reach of California-based industries, such as aerospace and biomedical research, that rely heavily on the use of sensors,” said Wendy Loew, event director.

Bountiful Food Shows

Two food-sector exhibitions that were on both the Fastest 50 and Gold 100 rosters whet the appetites of buyers and sellers in July. The metrics for the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, and IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, went in different directions, but still attracted good crowds and enjoyed large exhibit areas.

The Summer Fancy Food Show totaled 361,000 nsf, topping the record show floor from last year by 1.8%. The momentum was more apparent in the 12% jump in the number of exhibitors, who displayed the usual creative crop of new ideas in snacks and other goodies that will soon be filling supermarket and gourmet shops. “There was optimism and positive energy in every aisle,” said Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association.

The IFT Food Expo was one of the shows that saw declines in all three metrics. The backtracking appeared to be more a reflection of 2013’s location in Chicago where more day-tripper traffic was possible. The Windy City is the home of many of the large-scale food-processing and production companies that are the major consumer of the ingredients spotlighted at the Food Expo. The show still drew a high percentage of returning attendees and 83% were considered to be qualified buyers. However, overall attendance was off (30.2)% and the exhibit floor was down (8.8)% at 221,900 net square feet.

It was the fresh-produce crowd that took over Chicago this year. United Fresh reported a 16.1% growth in exhibit space to 72,000 nsf while attendance remained steady at 4,500 from last year’s show in San Diego.

Top Cities

Heavy equipment ruled the month, giving unassuming Regina the top spot on the podium for host cities. With more than 1.2 million nsf of tractors, combines and other shiny pieces of machinery parked in and around the Canada Centre.

Las Vegas hosted four shows, including the record-setting Gold 100 shows LIGHTFAIR International and InfoComm, for a total of 912,135 nsf. New York placed third, thanks to the Summer Fancy Food Show and the FFANY New York Shoe Expo, which together totaled 406,000 nsf.

Next Month

So long Summer. Fall begins in September as does the home stretch for the 2014 trade show calendar. Reed Exhibitions holds Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas at the end of the month. Graph Expo and Converting & Package Print Expo will run in Chicago for the second year of their co-location agreement.

September also includes a full menu of medical meetings. The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) expects 11,000 attendees at its ASTRO Annual Meeting in San Francisco. A record 2,874 abstracts were submitted for presentation by June. More than 5,500 physicians and surgeons were projected for the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery Foundation’s annual meeting in Orlando.

Two leading shows in the sporting goods sector also will take place in September: Emerald Expositions’ Interbike International Bicycle Expo in Las Vegas, which made the Gold 100
and Fastest 50 last year, and the GLM Surf Expo in Orlando, which will launch Shop Shootout, a wakeboarding contest for ambitious attendees.