Trade Show Uptick may Indicate Stronger Economy

Trade Show Uptick

Business seems to be looking up in the convention and trade show sector.

More than 70 percent of exhibitors expect to go to additional trade shows this year, an almost complete flip from data that a year ago indicated only 28 percent of exhibitors were adding to their schedules.

Increased trade show activity is an indication of a better economy, suburban businesses – especially ones that rely on the broad meetings industry – may enjoy 2010 more than they enjoyed 2009. There are cautions, however, including rather solid suggestions that meeting attendance won’t increase much.

You clearly weren’t alone if you opted out of the annual industry meeting last year. Travel budgets, says Pat Farrey, “were down 40 percent last year compared to 2008.” Those budgets, he adds, “haven’t changed for 2010.”

A principal at Landon, Farrey & Associates, Inc., a trade association management firm in Naperville that manages five national associations, four in the packaging industry, Farrey knows meetings.

“The old model – meetings for golf – doesn’t work any more,” Farrey says. “Senior managers aren’t looking to be entertained.” What attendees are looking for, Farrey says, is “takeaway value.”

So are their bosses. Conventions and trade shows that have “reinvented themselves” have managed to stem the drop in attendance or picked up a little, Farrey says. Even so, Farrey notes that “More levels of approval are required” to justify the cost of trade show attendance.

That may be one reason exhibitors have noticed a change in attendees.

(Author: Jim Kendall of the Chicago Daily Herald)

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