Trade Show Leader: nGage Events’ Philip McKay

May 6, 2016

With a couple of decades in the trade show industry, Philip McKay definitely has learned a lot of things along the way.

McKay currently is the founder and CEO of nGage Events, which owns or partners with the industry’s leading publications in 10 annual hosted buyer events in cutting-edge markets such as; Enterprise Mobility, IoT, Enterprise HPC, Big Data, InkJet Printing, Digital Packaging, Design in Healthcare and Education.

These invitation-only events host the true decision-makers in each market, where the content is provided by the leading analysts in the globe.  

Before founding nGage Events, McKay served as an executive consultant for Questex Media and the World Market Center in Las Vegas. McKay’s first company, PPM Media, was a leading hosted buyer event company spanning many technology vertical sectors.

McKay also held senior positions at Gartner's Vision Events, Key3Media Group, overseeing the company's portfolio of COMDEX and N+I with 20-plus markets in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Prior to Key3Media, McKay was group managing director for Penton Media.

McKay took some time to share his knowledge of the trade show industry with TSNN:

TSNN : How did you get started in the industry? 

McKay: My first position was director of sales at Diversified Communications in Portland, Maine. 

TSNN: How different was the industry when you started, compared with today? 

McKay: Technology was only a small part of our business at that time. We had paper floorplans, direct mail was 99 percent of our marketing campaigns, the phone was used almost exclusively for contacting potential sponsors.  Social media did not exist yet  

Tradeshows were one of the only places that you would see new products and services. Competition came mostly from other tradeshows, unlike today where we deal with proprietary events from individual companies that can be as large or larger than industry events. Virtual events have tried to cut into face-to-face events, but really we’ve not seen much of an impact. The internet has enhanced our reach but also has provided other avenues for b2b and b2c buyers to source products.

TSNN: What are some of the lessons you have learned being a part of this industry?


-       People are your best asset

-       Pay attention to every detail

-       Every sponsor and attendee should be given the "white glove" treatment

-       Your lists are your life’s blood, so keep the clean and up to date

-       Your vendors are your partners and should be treated as such. They are an extension of your team.

-       Strive to always foster and nurture great relationships and partnerships

TSNN: What is your favorite part of being in the industry? 


-       The people who work in this industry are the best. Hardworking, honest, brilliant, fun and are exceptional multitaskers.

-       I love being on the cutting edge of the industries we serve and  being a part of such dynamic communities.

-       Traveling the globe as well as meeting so many people from different areas and cultures and learning from them.

TSNN: Anything you miss that you wish was still around? 

McKay: I look at each day as a new adventure to learn new things, meet new partners, experience new opportunities and challenge myself to be better at what I do. Therefore, I learn from my past and cherish it, but I am always looking forward. 

TSNN: Anything you are thrilled went away? 

McKay: Nothing that I can really put my finger on. As I said we learn from our past experiences, and it can only help us be better people, professionals and family members.

TSNN:  What do you hope your personal impact on the industry is?


-       I think the thing that I’m most proud of is:

-       Being an entrepreneur

-       Being a compassionate leader

-       Being an evangelist for the hosted buyer model which I believe has an important place in our industry.

TSNN: Any wise words about what this industry means to you overall?

McKay: This industry brings together the brightest minds on the globe from every walk of life, race, faith, nationality and from every sector of business We make and set trends, we create commerce, we define content and the direction that industries take. We serve as the original matchmaker for each of the industries we serve and that will go on forever.

Add new comment

Partner Voices

Have you ever heard someone say, “If it weren't for tomorrow, it'd be the future today” or “The future is unwritten?" Well, dear readers, when it comes to the use of augmented reality (AR) technology in the events space, that future is now!