Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 26 2016

The Adage That Rules The Success Of Every Trade Show

Carolyn Clark


If you’re aiming to keep exhibitors happy, you may be dedicating loads of time and resources to efforts that will attract bigger crowds to the show floor. More attendees means more prospects means more potential business deals — and that all adds up to more success, right? Not so fast. While exhibitors want plenty of foot traffic and action on the show floor, a new report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research reveals that more does not always equal better. Instead, it shows that the trade show industry should embrace an old adage: quality over quantity.

In a survey of more than 500 marketing executives with power to influence show participation decisions, 80 percent ranked “high quality of attendance” as the most important factor in deciding whether to exhibit or expand booth size. Only 40 percent indicated that a “large volume of attendance” was a critical factor. If you’re a company thinking about exhibiting, consider these promotional statements: Don’t miss the industry’s biggest event with more than 50,000 attendees, or Connect with C-level decision-makers who want to see your newest innovations. Which one feels more compelling?

For most companies, the latter piece of information guides the decision to exhibit. Sure, “the industry’s biggest event” is a nice honor to be able to include in your show’s value proposition, but CEIR’s findings highlight the importance of understanding the attendees on the show floor. Are they senior-level representatives from their companies? What role do they play in purchasing decisions? How long have they been in the industry? As you work to build a robust profile of your attendee base, make sure you’re asking the right questions in surveys to understand their level of influence.

“[For attendees], surveys are recommended to identify the products, services and companies that attendees are striving to see; to identify other goals they hope to achieve; and to capture profile data not capture through the registration process,” the experts at CEIR advise. “In addition to assuring a proper fit between attendee needs and exhibitor offerings, this exercise offers organizers an easy way to add new exhibitor categories to an exhibit floor, enhance value to attendees and add new revenue for the exhibition.”

MORE: Bringing The Consumer Experience To The Trade Show Floor

Exhibiting companies want high-quality attendees, but most of them aren’t expecting to do immediate high-volume business. In fact, only 15 percent of respondents in the CEIR research indicated that “volume of orders written at the exhibition/on the floor” is a major factor in determining whether to reserve booth space.

Looking for more than survey findings? Click here to check out some of the most inspiring quotes from the recent CEIR Predict Conference, and be sure to pass them along to everyone on your team as you strategize for continued success at your show.

Go here to download more valuable information from CEIR, including the most recent installments in a 10-part series called 2016 Changing Environment of

1 Comment

  1. 1 Ross Heller 27 Sep
    Carolyn . . . .

    I was so hoping not to find this, given the correctness of this article's headline.
    But, unfortunately, in the body copy, there it was: "old adage."

    All  adages are old; that's why they are adages. Hence "old adage" is redundant!



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