TSEA Membership Woes Force Layoffs

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – The Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) laid off three of its five staff members last week, however, the association’s president said its activities would not be curtailed.

Stephen Schuldenfrei, president of the TSEA, declined to comment on the exact reason for the downsizing; however, he said that cost-cutting, due to a lack of growth in the membership rolls, was a factor. He told Trade Show Executive, “We are going to operate with all of the services we have had. We are just going to have to do it more efficiently.”

The TSEA was formed more than 30 years ago as an association for corporate exhibit managers and then expanded to include event and exhibit marketing professionals.

The association sponsors an annual exposition, TS2 – Total Solutions Marketing for the Exhibit & Event Professional, which is owned by National Trade Productions.  NTP purchased TS2 from the TSEA in 2004 after 5 years of managing the event.

Trade Show Executive spoke to Bob Harar, chairman of National Trade Productions. He said, “TS² is strong and growing. Both net square footage and attendance has grown between 10% and 15% annually.”

The next show will take place July 28 – 31, 2008 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. It is expected to  draw about 2,500 attendees and span about 40,000 net square feet of exhibit space.  It will offer over 70 educational sessions.

“TSEA always had a small staff and is very dependent on volunteers,” Harar noted.  “As a result, there can be good years and bad years.”

Harar said NTP has been building alliances between TS² and other organizations including the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE); the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO); the Exhibit Designers & Producers Association (EDPA); the American Marketing Association (AMA); and the Chief Marketing Officer Council (CMO  Council).

“We would love to see a strong TSEA,” Harar said. “It is in the best interest of the exposition industry to have a strong association of corporate marketers and event professionals.”

Reach Stephen Schuldenfrei at (312) 842-8732 or sschuldenfrei@tsea.org; Bob Harar at (703) 683-8500 x258 or bharar@ntpshow.com