Sam Lippman, president and founder of Lippman Connects, kicked off the one-day ECEF (Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum) at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., which he produces annually, on May 30 with his usual quick intel. Lippman ran through 5 Data Points in 5 Minutes, highlights of the most-recent PULSE survey results in which 200 convention-industry execs took part.
His take on what they had to say about the current state of the industry highlighted key concerns and foreshadowed content the day’s sessions would explore for the audience of 222 industry execs. The top issue, Lippman said, is that “we have to watch attendance.” Thirty-one percent fewer respondents are seeing growth in attendance at their events compared to 2014 PULSE results, and 17 percent are experiencing declining attendance. That’s an 82-percent increase among respondents who are dealing with decreased attendance compared to 2014 results.
Following the top challenge of growing attendance comes proving exhibitor ROI. Those two things — critical to a healthy event — have remained top of mind for years, Lippman said, but what’s changed in terms of priorities is staying current with technology. That has jumped up to the third spot in terms of business challenges.
As part of that, more than half of respondents said they are adding or have added enterprise-wide software at their organizations. In terms of the technology respondents are focusing on, year-round engagement with stakeholders tops their lists. That’s followed by predictive analytics, gamification, beacons, VR, AR, AI, chatbots, and voice-activated technologies.
The last trend Lippman shared in his quick recap is that nearly half of respondents said they have changed their organization’s structure or improved their staff over the last year or plan to in the coming year. “All we have is our staff,” Lippman said. “We don’t have trademarks, we don’t have factories, we don’t have patents — we just have our staffs. So if we don’t put them in the right order of things, we’re not going to be successful.”