Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 30 2015

3 Facts About Big Data That Every Trade Show Organizer Should Know

By Mary Reynolds Kane



Over the past few years, meeting professionals and trade show organizers have been asking loads of questions about big data. What exactly does it mean? How can I collect the data and satisfy attendee privacy concerns at the same time? Does the data really represent new opportunities?

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research surveyed more than 300 trade show executives and interviewed show organizers to uncover the answers. As the big data conversation continues, here’s a look at three of the key findings.

1) Nearly every show is starting to embrace analytics.

While big data may sound overwhelming, the majority of trade show organizers are no longer allowing it to intimidate them. Fifty-five percent of respondents in the CEIR study are already active in analytics, and over the next year, an additional 13 percent have plans to sort, filter and study the information that their shows generate.

So why isn’t the number 100 percent? A minority of trade show organizers cite limited data collection abilities, lack of experience and lack of budget as some of the top reasons they aren’t doing more with their data.

SEE ALSO: How Big Data Makes Meetings Smarter

2) Small data can still unlock big opportunities.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and other well-established digital names collect massive amounts of data each day of the year. Trade shows do not operate on the same level. In fact, two-thirds of respondents in CEIR’s research work with data sets that have 100,000 or fewer records. While the amount of data may be smaller, the potential for producing results is still huge.

“The reality is that big or small, it does not matter,” the report states. “The same procedures and techniques are applied no matter the size of the data set. Results indicate that analytics are delivering business results. And that is what matters.”

LEARN: Big Data - The What, Where And Why

3) Data mining doesn’t have to be that difficult.

Working with data can include plenty of advanced-level technical jargon. However, if an organization isn’t quite ready to invest in RFID and heat maps for the show floor, there are still many exciting entry-level opportunities. From optimizing spend on attendee acquisition efforts to identifying the most valuable social media engagement tools, many respondents are leveraging big data to fuel more powerful attendee marketing campaigns.

“No matter the approach, basic or complex, it behooves an organizer to enter the analytics game,” the report states. “By staying on the sidelines, an organization may be leaving money on the table or ceding a business advantage to a competitor event.”

Interested in learning more about how your peers in the trade show industry are approaching data analytics? Click here to download the complete report from CEIR. IAEE members can access the findings for free.

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