TSNN Survey Reveals Key Insights About Attendee Registration

March 3, 2023

Early bird discounts are still popular, but half of trade show attendees are registering less than one month out, according to part two of TSNN’s attendee registration survey.

According to the survey, 83 percent of show organizers offer early bird discounts or a limited number of tickets for attendee registration, while only 17 percent do not.

Early bird discounts continue to influence registration patterns, although attendees tend to register later in the show cycle now, which has shifted the early bird strategy on some events,” said Jacy Barker, senior director of marketing services at RX. On average, pre-registration numbers are at 95% of what they were pre-pandemic across our B2B events in 2023.”

Emerald is also reporting that overall attendance is close to pre-pandemic levels. Attendance for the majority of the Emerald 2023 events that have staged to date are back to pre-covid levels, and we remain cautiously optimistic that this trend will continue,” said Joanne Wheatley, senior vice president of marketing and digital operations at Emerald. “We also see a leveling of the pattern we experienced at the end of 2021 and early 2022, when attendees registered later in the cycle. However, while our verification rates have yet to return to pre-Covid levels, our onsite registration has increased, indicating that a level of indecisiveness and last-minute decision-making remains a challenge.”

Last week, we released the first part of our survey data in our story TSNN Show Organizer Survey Reveals 7 Tactics to Drive Earlier Registration. This week, we are sharing the rest of the results, in which leaders at trade show management companies like RX, Informa and Emerald, as well as registration companies like Convention Data Services and Custom Registration weigh in on what’s working for their diverse mix of trade shows. Here’s what we learned. 

Weeks Not Months

In 2023, we consistently see our attendees registering later or closer to the show than they did pre-pandemic,” said Lauren Lamb, vice president, strategy, marketing and conference at  Informa Markets. “We’re seeing our largest spikes in registration around our early bird deadline and within one week leading into the show. The two weeks leading into each event is driving a much more meaningful increase in registrations than expected pre-pandemic, and we believe it reveals a shift in our attendees’ decision-making process”. 

Lamb continued, “The most notable new trend in 2023 is that we are seeing a larger percentage of people register on site than in 2022. As an example, in our infrastructure and construction portfolio, our last three traded events showed a 71.33% increase in onsite registrations, on average.” 

When it comes to early bird discounting, Convention Data Services (CDS) is encouraging its clients to pay attention to the trends of who may actually be using those discounts, according to Darren Phalen, president of the registration that's owned by Freeman Company.

“Anecdotally, it already appears those using the discounts are long-standing legacy customers, which is to say the ones who were extremely likely to be attending the event anyway,” Phalen said. “If that trend holds true, it could present the idea that a discount very early on in the process actually reduces the event revenue while not drawing in any new attendees.”

He continued, “There then becomes potential that discounting somewhere later in the process or for other actionable reasons may actually be the smarter move for the event organizer to make.” 

In 2023, CDS provided registration services for a number of trade shows, including IPC APEX EXPO 2023 and ASI Show Orlando

Pricing Puzzle


“We have an enhanced strategy, which includes another pricing tier in between early bird and standard pricing,” Barker said. “This Advance Pricing tier meets attendees in the middle, allowing them to register later in the event cycle, which seems to be a more common trend while incentivizing them to register at least two weeks pre-show so that they have time to prepare for the event and engage with our brand and planning tools.”

The early bird deadline is typically the only discount provided to attendees, and that remains consistent pre- and post-pandemic, according to Lamb.

“We’ve driven successful registrations with our early bird discount an average of five weeks in advance of our show,” Lamb said. “We strategically use this deadline in order to best communicate with our audiences.” 

Lamb added, “Registering five weeks in advance allows us to help our attendees to best maximize their time on site, including securing their housing, learning about our show features, planning their expo hall experience and specific companies or products to visit, conference or education sessions, and networking opportunities.” 

Ray Baum, director, business development at Custom Registration, shared an example from a client trade show scheduled to be held in March as an example. 

“The event site went live in early November, and traffic was light,” he said. “The registration conversion rate was minimal through the first week of January.  The trends did start to move upward, slowly but the first significant spike didn’t occur until the second week of February, when the early bird deadline approached. In a year-over-year comparison, attendee registration started much earlier for the 2022 event and had a very steady increase.”  

In recent weeks, Custom Registration has provided services for MAGIC in Las Vegas Convention Center and Coterie at Javits Center.

Down to the Wire 

“Most of our clients do offer an early bird discount, and when they are marketed correctly, both to alumni and the general population, they can be effective,” Baum said. “But those who post one just to have one don’t see the results.”

Baum shared another example of a client that held its annual conference in November. 

“The 2022 event saw about a 15 percent increase in registrations over 2021,” he said. “In 2021, they attracted roughly 8,000. In 2022, it was close to 10,000, and there was a significant spike the last week before the show, with roughly 1,700 new registrations. In 2021, it had plateaued the week before, and there wasn’t a significant spike.”

He continued: “The verified attendance was much higher in 2022 than 2021, which saw a 66% registration to verified rate compared with 90 percent in 2022.”



Less Is More

“The question organizers need to ask is ‘What purpose do the questions being asked serve? If the data informs the organizer or exhibiting company to take action, there’s value in having your registrant take the time to fill out the questions,” Phalen said. “If you are simply collecting data for data’s sake, you may be able to reduce the time to purchase.” 

When considering demographics, it’s often smart for the organizer to move specific demographic questions to a different point in the process, possibly even post registration or to have that information become a part of their member registry outside of that specific event, according to Phalen.

What’s Next

“In 2024, we plan to make the early bird discount even more attractive across our shows,” Lamb said.

TSNN will host a webinar on this data as well as the tactics to drive earlier attendee registration. Interested? The first 100 people to sign up will get access to this exclusive event, along with a copy of the full results. Sign up here.

Main photo: PGA Show, RX

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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.