International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo! Scores 23 Percent Attendance Increase

December 12, 2014

More than 2,000 trade show organizers and suppliers were in Los Angeles this week to take part in three days of networking, education sessions and a bustling showfloor at the 2014 International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo!

The exact number of attendees, 2,104, was a significant jump, compared with 2013, with also more than 1,000 show organizers on hand this year.

"The 2014 Expo! Expo! has exceeded our expectations so far. We have a record number of show organizer attendees, specifically a 30 percent increase over last year, and our overall attendance has increased by 23 percent,” said IAEE President and CEO  David DuBois.

He added, “Feedback I've received from attendees is that they're really enjoying the new features we've added to the 2014 show."

The event was held Dec. 9-11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

One of the many highlights of Expo! Expo! is a joint session held between IAEE and the Society of Independent Show Organizers.

This year’s session focused on “How Do Independent Show Organizers and Associations View Each Other”, with Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.’s Richard Mead moderating a discussion with Hanley Wood’s Rick McConnell and the National Association of Broadcasters’ Chris Brown.

Hanley Wood has acquired several association shows in the past. “If there was a good thing that came out of the recession, we’re seeing a lot of strategic partnerships that would not have happened before,” McConnell said.

The opening general session kicked off the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti welcoming the crowd and joking, “Thank you for coming back, even though it took about two decades.”

Outgoing IAEE Chairperson Skip Cox took the stage and told the capacity crowd of the many IAEE successes in the past year, including Exhibitions Day, in which more than 100 show organizers went to Capitol Hill to talk about the value of events, as well as the “Exhibitions Means Business” campaign, which has had an estimated $36 million impact in media value and nearly 40 million impressions.

IAEE membership also has seen a 13 percent increase in number of countries represented and overall membership grew by 4 percent in the past year.

“International membership is up 26 percent overall,” DuBois said. To highlight this point, several international associations representing countries such as Mexico, Thailand, China and India took the stage to sign reciprocal partnership agreements with IAEE.

The first day’s keynote, Fast Company Editor Robert Safian, encouraged people to not have a fixed mindset and be willing to accept change in order to succeed.

“(People) need to be in the right mindset to adapt to changes around us,” he added.

Putting a spotlight on the state of the industry right now, IAEE also held a media forum with several trade show industry executives who talked about current challenges.

DuBois said the overall industry is seeing growth, with 16 consecutive positive quarters, as tracked by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

Bradley Kent, who heads sales at the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the recession caused a lot of consolidation in the industry. “Customers have more voice and more choice,” he added.

Megan Tanel, from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, said, “We are questioning a lot of antiquated models,” adding that they are especially looking at rising costs that are not tied to receiving the same value.

The showfloor, packed with suppliers to the trade show industry, was held during a two-day period and drew 265 exhibitors to 39,000 net square foot of space.

The festivities kicked off with an outdoor opening party at L.A. Live featuring a holiday theme before attendees got back down to business the next day with sessions in the morning and another general session with Seth Mattison.

Mattison showed an organizational chart from the top down and pointed out most of the attendees in the room viewed the world this way, while the younger generations coming up saw the world more as an interconnected, ever-changing network.

He added that the Internet has empowered the younger generations. “They have access and they have a platform,” Mattison said. “They see people their age disrupting every industry.”

He also encouraged people to have a defined outcome objective for every meeting, to do their homework before talking to someone about their business and “ask killer questions”, but just ones like “What do you do?”

The rest of the three-day event featured Humanity Rocks annual networking event that supported a local charity, IAEE chapter receptions, a plethora of education sessions and a closing luncheon that featured IAEE Individual Award Honorees, including Vincent Polito, who received the Pinnacle Award, and Sarah Soliman, who was honored as this year’s Rookie award honoree.

In conclusion, AEM’s Megan Tanel accepted the passing of the gavel from Skip Cox and will start her year as IAEE’s new chairperson.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.