• What’s Next for the Expositions and Trade Show Business in 2021?

    The devastation of the trade show, exposition, and in-person event industry does not need another recap or reminder of where we are or how we got here; what we need is a vision, a strategy, and a plan for how each of us can prevail in 2021. We’ll deal with 2022 as we begin the recovery of our sector next year. For now, survival and retooling is the priority.

    Here are 10 key steps for you to evaluate and act upon depending on your ambition, risk-tolerance, resources, and capabilities. Not every one of these are 100% right for you … but maybe one of these can kick your business into another gear, starting next month. Try one or more of these on for size …
    Read More

  • Special Pricing for IAEE Members: GBAC Technician Program

    IAEE has teamed with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, to help exhibitions and events professionals safely and effectively return to the face-to-face business environment amid the challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as other infectious diseases, through a training course designed to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazards in the workplace.
    Click Here For More Information

  • Meet the Winners from the 2020 Art of the Show Competition

    The winners were selected for their creative use of several essential marketing elements needed to promote exhibitions and events. The winning entries were announced and recognized at the Art of the Show Competition Watch Party as part of IAEE's virtual Expo! Expo! The Art of the Show Competition recognizes excellence in promotional materials for the exhibitions and events industry in 14 categories of competition, spanning three show sizes. The entries are judged by an independent panel of judges who specialize in marketing, communications and graphic design. Each entry received is scored on a points system based on the criteria for the category in which it is entered. The judges’ scores are averaged, and the highest score wins for each category/show size.View 2020's Winners Here

  • Congratulations to IAEE's Award Recipients for 2020!

    The International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) proudly announced the recipients of the 2020 IAEE Awards in a special presentation held during Virtual Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2020. The IAEE Awards recognize outstanding contributions by IAEE members to the organization and to the exhibitions and events industry. They were selected after careful consideration and review by the IAEE Awards Committee and approval by the IAEE Board of Directors following an open call for nominations by IAEE members earlier in the year.
    View Award Recipients Here

  • CEIR Announces 2020 Third Quarter Results

    The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that the exhibition industry remained at a grinding halt in the third quarter of 2020, with approximately 97% of originally scheduled events cancelled. As a result, the CEIR Total Index, a measure of exhibition industry performance, registered a 98.1% decline from a year ago (see Figure 1). The industry experienced a more moderate year-over-year decline of real (inflation-adjusted) GDP at 2.9%, which increased at an annual rate of 33.1% from the previous quarter. The latter had been somewhat boosted by continued reopening of businesses, strong residential investment, and online and other consumer goods purchases.

    Read More

  • Permission:Granted and how to get rid of your BS.

    Day Two General Session on December 9th at Expo! Expo! 

    Join Risha Grant, Keynote speaker and author, for a raw and honest presentation on bias and how creating cohesiveness in your workspace, in your life and in our world can help us to build authentic relationships in everyday situations. 
    View the Expo! Expo! Schedule Here

  • Register now for Virtual Expo! Expo! December 8-10!

    BrandGet the tools you need to plan your next in-person event in 2021 and beyond at Expo! Expo! Our virtual experience will feature a robust marketplace for all your products/services needs along with relevant and timely content across 5 education tracks. 
    Click here for more information
  • How to network professionally during the Corona Virus Pandemic

    It’s no secret that networking is a critical component of job searching specifically, and for professional development more generally. For some, networking comes easily. Attending industry meetups, making regular appearances at local events or happy hours — these types of activities feel natural to some job-seekers and workers. For others, networking is more of a chore.

    But how are people thinking about one of the most critical aspects of finding a job or advancing in the workplace during a global pandemic? I gleaned some insights about this concern when I conducted a recent survey with a multigenerational cohort of workers, job seekers, educators, and business owners.
    Read More Here

  • Register to attend IAEE's Webinar: Virtual Event Best Practices

    Virtual Events Best Practices
    Thursday, 12 November 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CDT.

    Over the past several months, chances are, you've had to quickly transition from a traditional in-person conference/event to a virtual event and you may have even done so, more than once. There are so many things to consider when making the pivot to virtual – whether that includes how you will market to your audience, maximizing attendee and sponsor participation, how you will keep your attendees engaged or how you will show value to these groups – it’s all in the strategic planning and that starts with determining effective marketing for the event.
    Click Here to Register
  • The 2nd edition of the Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening is now available for download.

    IAEE has updated its white paper, Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events.

    The 2nd Edition includes enhancements in the following areas:

    • Insurance considerations
    • Travel considerations
    • New FAQs throughout the paper
    • Updated content on force majeure in legal section
    • Enhanced risk assessment sections
    • Addition of images from shows that have taken place since the first edition
    • Additional updates from EDPA, ESCA and  GBAC    
    Focusing on the following topics:
    • General Principles for Health and Safety Operations
    • Communication, Education and Awareness
    • Exhibition and Event Operations
    • Convention Centre/Venue Cleaning Prevention Measures
    • Legal and Insurance Considerations
    • Travel Considerations
    Click Here to download a copy

  • CEIR’s Event Analyzer 2.0 is about to launch!

    Don't miss this weeks Webinar Thursday, 5 November.
    CEIR’s Event Analyzer 2.0 is About to Launch! Learn How to Use this New Tool and Ramp Up Your Strategic Planning Focus. 

    Join CEIR’s VP of Research Nancy Drapeau, PRC and Economist Dr. Allen Shaw – to learn how to:

    • Use this new and improved tool
    • Understand which industry benchmark charts are available for free
    • Unlock premium content
    • Engage in an interactive discussion on how to interpret these results.

    Register Here!

  • Last Call! Submit your Nominations for Awards and Recognition at Expo! Expo! Deadline is October 30!

    Each year, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) recognizes and awards professionals in the exhibitions and events industry for their contributions. Industry professionals can be nominated for any of the awards as long as they meet the criteria outlined by IAEE. These awards represent IAEE’s highest honors and will be presented at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition.

    The IAEE Awards Program is designed to recognize those professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the exhibitions and events industry. This is your chance to recognize an individual who has forged new ground within IAEE and/or the exhibitions and events industry. Nominate someone who has dedicated his/her career to the exhibition and event industry, has attained outstanding achievement and/or has contributed significantly to the profession.

    Once nominations have been received, the IAEE Awards Committee and IAEE Board of Directors will make their final selections based on merit.
    More Information

  • Registration for Expo! Expo! is now open

    Join us for Expo! Expo! in Louisville, KY this 8-10 December. Come connect with colleagues, connect with business partners, and connect with your IAEE community. Being together, even if it is at a distance, is vital to our industry.More Information
  • Submit your nominations for IAEE's awards and recognition's at Expo! Expo! Deadline is 30 October!

    Each year, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) recognizes and awards professionals in the exhibitions and events industry for their contributions. Industry professionals can be nominated for any of the awards as long as they meet the criteria outlined by IAEE. These awards represent IAEE’s highest honors and will be presented at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition.

    The IAEE Awards Program is designed to recognize those professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the exhibitions and events industry. This is your chance to recognize an individual who has forged new ground within IAEE and/or the exhibitions and events industry. Nominate someone who has dedicated his/her career to the exhibition and event industry, has attained outstanding achievement and/or has contributed significantly to the profession.

    Once nominations have been received, the IAEE Awards Committee and IAEE Board of Directors will make their final selections based on merit.
    Click Here for More Information

  • Have you visited IAEE's New Virtual Exhibitions and Events Marketplace Yet?

    Virtual exhibitions and events have become an increasingly important and essential part of the events mix. IAEE has provided a new platform as a resource to assist the IAEE community of virtual platform buyers to navigate the many solutions that have emerged to provide various levels of virtual exhibitions and event solutions.
    Click here to visit the marketplace
  • Nominations for IAEE's 20 Under 35 Are Now Open!

    20 under 35 logoIAEE’s 20 Under 35 Program affords remarkable young professional organizers the opportunity to experience the magic of Expo! Expo! first-hand in a physically-distanced, safe environment. This year, the experience will be a little different but IAEE believes that by recognizing and elevating these young leaders, evolution and distinction of the exhibition and events industry will be fostered around the globe.

    The 20 Under 35 program will not only provide selected honorees with the opportunity to experience Expo! Expo! but they will gain industry and leadership education for professional growth in the exhibitions and events industry, as well as lifelong connections with fellow honorees and attendees.
    Click Here For More Information

  • Registration Ends Tuesday 22, September for the Women's Leadership Half Day Series

    WLF Dallas TX is now a fully a Virtual Experience on 24, September.
    IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum has been designed to focus on topics that are unique to women in the exhibitions and events industry. It is tailored for all women regardless of age, individual situation or current position held within their company. The Forum will provide knowledge and strategies for attendees to succeed in their current positions, as well as motivation and inspiration to take your career to the next level. The Forum will give you the tools and resources while balancing life along the way. The Forum is a half-day program beginning at 2:00 PM and ending at 4:30 PM.Register Here!
  • Don't Miss this Weeks IAEE Webinar: Reimagining Events and Getting Ahead of the Curve

    Reimagining Events and Getting Ahead of the Curve Presented by David Saef, CTSM, Senior VP of Strategy – Freeman.
    Thursday, 17 September from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm CST.
    IAEE Webinars offer strategic information about the business of trade shows and consumer events. Webinars feature top speakers and thought leaders sharing trade show tips, tricks, resources and solutions for some of the most critical challenges facing event marketers, show organizers and exhibitors today .Register Here
  • Register Now: Predict, CEIR's Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference

    Predict is now a fully Virtually Conference 22 September 2020! 

    CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Outlook Conference Predict brings together executives in the B2B exhibitions industry to learn about and discuss emerging trends likely to impact trade shows and trade fairs three to five years out. The conference is designed with an outward looking approach, bringing in perspectives from forward-thinking 

    experts to stretch one’s thinking.

    This year’s program will focus on the economic, geopolitical and social issues and their likely impact into the future. Click here for more information

  • Registration For Women Leadership Forum ends September 2nd.

    WLF Signature is now a fully a Virtual Experience.
    IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum has been designed to focus on topics that are unique to women in the exhibitions and events industry. It is tailored for all women regardless of age, individual situation or current position held within their company. The forum will provide knowledge and strategies for attendees to succeed in their current positions, as well as motivation and inspiration to take your career to the next level. The Forum will give you the tools and resources while balancing life along the way.Click here for more information and to register.
  • Earn Your GBAC-Trained Technician Certificate

    IAEE has teamed with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, to help exhibitions and events professionals safely and effectively return to the face-to-face business environment amid the challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as other infectious diseases, through a training course designed to prepare for, respond to and recover from biohazards in the workplace.

    The GBAC Fundamentals Online Course teaches participants the principles behind infection and contamination control measures for infectious disease outbreak situations such as the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The length of the course is approximately two to three hours. Learn More

  • Virtual CEM week starts Monday August 24th!

    Complete more than 50% of the required courses needed to obtain your CEM designation.

    This year CEM Week combines classes hosted by both Visit Austin and Visit Baltimore, and provides participants the opportunity to choose from 10 course offerings and complete five exams in one week.

    Register Here

  • Decoding Trade Show Sponsorship Opportunities


    DALLAS, 28 July 2020 – The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has published a new Industry Insight Series report, Decoding Trade Show Sponsorship Opportunities, written by industry expert Dax Callner, Strategy Director at Smyle. Callner has more than 20 years of experience developing marketing programs for some of the world’s leading brands including P&G, American Express, Facebook, GE and others.

    Decoding Trade Show Sponsorship Opportunities provides an easy-to-read, practical overview of how brand marketers can effectively sort out which on-site sponsorship opportunities might be worth investing in to maximize the outcome of an exhibit program. Read More

  • What’s Next for the B2B Exhibitions Industry?

    Recently, I was approached as past CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) to write a blog on the future of the events industry following the article written by Doug Ducate, my predecessor at CEIR. Having followed Doug as CEO, who was the CEO with CEIR for many years, I was reminded how challenging it is to walk in his shadow after reading the well-written article on the future of the B2B exhibition industry in light of the pandemic we are facing.

  • The Ninja Future of the Second Stage Covid-19 World

    By Gary Shapiro

    The coronavirus outbreak created – and continues to cause – economic disruption and cancellation of many events. As events slowly return, they will be different. Organizers and participants willing to innovate can emerge from this downturn stronger than before. 

    “Innovate or die!” That’s the simple but powerful mantra I use to present the philosophy behind ninja innovation. Ninja innovators work with – rather than against – disruptive industry trends to build stronger, more resilient and more efficient businesses. On an organizational level, it’s often easier to stick to business as usual than it is to take the risks that spark innovative change. But the coronavirus is a powerful enemy of business as usual. Now as we return to live events, we must innovate to survive.
    Read More

  • Taking Inventory of your B2B Exhibition use of Digital

    By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, VP of Research, CEIR

    While the global pandemic persists, many in the industry wonder what to do to assure B2B exhibitions will resurge once the crisis is over. Last week’s blog discussed historical CEIR Index data which suggests that the industry will recover. Its resilience is explained by the value these events deliver to participants, attendees and exhibitors. This will happen, question is, when. A recent poll by APCO Worldwide with Americans affirms the industry will re-emerge:

    The poll finds that  83% of Americans currently forced to work from home say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions. 78% say they plan to attend as many or more when the threat of COVID-19 passes.
    Read More

  • COVID-19 Outlook: an Economist’s Perspective

    The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has been tracking and analyzing data since the exhibition industry began feeling the impact of COVID-19 in January. The data is as fluid as the situation’s progress. However, CEIR is able to provide answers to some of the questions that have been streaming into our offices, especially in terms of how we foresee the effect of COVID-19 impacting the U.S. business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry in the coming months. Read more here
  • CEIR Reports on Economic Impact of COVID-19 to U.S. Exhibition Industry

    DALLAS, 18 March 2020 – Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released preliminary projections of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the U.S. business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry in the coming months. These calculations were derived from cancellations reported to the organization by exhibition and event organizers.

    Click Here to Read Full Report
  • CEIR Releases New Industry Insights Report.

    Booth Location and Other Factors to Consider to Maximize Exhibit Success cover image

    DALLAS, 3 March 2020 – Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announced a new report in its Industry Insight Series, Booth Location and Other Factors to Consider to Maximize Exhibit Success. Report author Richard Stone, CEO for ACT Inc./EXPOCAD®, is a consultant with extensive experience in the business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry spanning 30 years across multiple continents.


    Booth Location and Other Factors to Consider to Maximize Exhibit Success offers a holistic overview of factors exhibitors should consider when deciding which booth location is apt to work best for them to help them achieve their end goals for exhibiting.


    “Is there a simple formula to identify the best location? Good question, though the short answer is that it is not that simple,” notes Stone. “There are many good locations and reasons for selecting a location.”


    Booth Location and Other Factors to Consider to Maximize Exhibit Success helps walk readers through those considerations to assist in making good booth purchasing decisions.


    “Rich helps exhibitors think through the decision of choosing the best booth location and size that works for an exhibiting company’s goals and budget,” added CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM. “Spoiler alert: locations at the front of an exhibition floor are not the only locations that can drive high traffic.”


    This five-page report covers content relating to:

    • Factors relating to booth location to consider when deciding which location to pick among available options.
    • Whether attendees follow a typical walking pattern when visiting a show floor.
    • Other critical factors to consider when deciding booth size and location to best meet objectives for exhibiting.
    • Case study example of an actual show, highlighting that location is not the biggest determinant of high booth traffic.

    Click here to download the full report. IAEE members and CEIR subscribers may access the CEIR library and reports at no cost.


    About CEIR

    The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) serves to advance the growth, awareness and value of exhibitions and other face-to-face marketing events by producing and delivering knowledge-based research tools that enable stakeholder organizations to enhance their ability to meet current and emerging customer needs, improve their business performance and strengthen their competitive position. For additional information, visit




    Media Inquiries:

    Mary Tucker

    +1(972) 687-9226


  • Successful Sponsor Strategies for Meeting Planners: The Laws of Attraction

    By Janice Jackson


    MPI blue logo

    Meeting planners are always looking for at least two things: (1) ways to stretch their event budget and (2) ways to increase their event offering or branding via a sponsorship. With strong sponsorships, you can accomplish much more than your original budget allows. Here is where the world of sponsorship and event dating begins. Much like finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, you have to know what you want and what you have to give to this relationship.

    An event sponsor is an entity that supports an event in exchange for a benefit. In layman terms – your event needs something. A sponsor gives your event what it needs in exchange for something, usually in the form of exposure. This exposure can come in the form of branding/signage, presence on your event website, or something within the event, i.e., event tickets or access to attendee info. Event planners should approach sponsorships in the same way you would a dating prospect using a process I like to call the PRP technique: Prepare, Research and Pitch.


    How to begin: You create a dating profile answering the basics, (do I have a profile picture, what am I looking for, what do I have to give, how much time can I really commit?) The same steps begin your sponsorship search. What is your event about? What does it need? Preparation is all about evaluating your event and assessing what areas are enticing for another entity to sponsor. What areas could benefit from “conscious” coupling? Are sponsor opportunities in the registration area, social activities, on the website, speaker panels, general session or meal functions perhaps? Planners should also know specific information about their event attendees. What about your attendees makes them attractive to a sponsor? What is their demographic, how do they use social media, what are they buying tendencies, etc.


    Once you identify what you have to give, now find that perfect match to supply your event needs. Research is knowing a company’s mission and objectives. This is usually found on their website. What is the mission? What are their goals? Who is their consumer? What community does their product and services serve? Where is there an opportunity to elevate their brand via your event? Once you find that special company whose interests align with your event needs and objectives, you are on your way to finding that perfect match. However, much like the guy or girl that meets none of your wants, feel free to swipe left on sponsors that do not quite fit your event objectives.


    This is where people usually get nervous but think of this as the courting process in the first of many dates. Once you identify the person at the company to contact, make a solid pitch. In your pitch, highlight your company’s strongest attributes and why anyone would be greatly remiss of not being a sponsor. Pitches should be customized to each company. Just like each dating prospect is unique, so should your sponsor pitch deck. Sponsors — like relationships — want to feel special. In today’s world, sponsor packages must entail that extra step.

    What exactly does that mean? Dig deeper in those conversations with sponsors. Is a potential sponsor a startup company looking for new tech ideas? Maybe have a shark tank themed event where attendees can come up with new products. Huge expo event? Perhaps have a company sponsor scooters so attendees won’t have to do a lot of convention walking. Like relationships, we all want to be in possession of something special and exclusive. The extra step moves the relationships past mere ROI statistics to real engagement returns.


    Event sponsorships are essential as they enhance your events and elevate brand awareness of companies. Yet, finding event sponsors is a process. To find that special match, you must put in work from the beginning, to make it grow and sustain it once it has begun. E-Harmony or one-night stand is ultimately measured by how well you have done your PRP.


    Janice Jackson, CMP is the Events & Meeting Manager for the National Football League Players Association in Washington, D.C. Janice is an active MPI Potomac Chapter member and a Charter Member of MPI’s Association Planners Advisory Board!

  • How much can you learn by looking at a face?

    By Magda Klimczyk


    MPI blue logo



    This article was originally published by THINK MICE.

    The meetings industry brings to mind advanced technological solutions. Today their application in the production of all types of events seems to be essential. Interactive, engaging and unforgettable experiences are intended to generate not only a “wow effect” for the spectators, but also create the so-called fear of missing out (FOMO). Increasingly advanced and original technologies, making it possible to stand up to this task, are springing up in the market. Facial recognition systems are unquestionably among the most prominent options.

    How Much Can You Learn by Looking at a Face 2

    Popular Tools

    Although it has not been applied on a wider scale until recently, the facial recognition technology itself should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, owners of the latest iPhones are using it every day to unlock their smartphones with the Face ID feature and authorise their purchases from the iTunes Store and App Store.

    Airlines are also investing in systems of this kind, perceiving them as a faster and safer method of verifying the identity of travellers. DeepFace and FaceNet algorithms introduced by Facebook and Google enable automatic facial recognition that achieves nearly 100% accuracy rate. The increasingly popular tool is now also entering the MICE realm, winning acclaim of jury members of industry’s most important competitions as the best way of speeding up the process of event check-ins.

    Market Leaders

    The largest progress in the implementation of facial recognition in the meetings sector was made by two start-ups – Belgian Field drive and the US Zenus Biometrics. In last year’s edition of IBTM World Tech Watch Award and Event Technology Award competitions the two companies were recognised as top partners specialising in providing the discussed technology.

    The product they developed together combines the high functionality of self-service check-in kiosks (part of the Field drive portfolio) with a facial recognition application created by Zenus Biometrics. It has already been successfully applied in more than 30 events in Europe and United States, including Mega Camp held at Austin Convention Center in Texas last August.

    This was the second event staged by Keller Williams Realty to deploy the technology in question. According to data compiled by Fielddrive, 69% of Mega Camp’s 8,000 participants decided to register via a facial recognition system, an increase of 17% in comparison with Spring Masterminds, a previous event held only several months earlier in May 2018. “The gathered results only confirmed our expectations. The ratio of people interested in the product is considerably higher in the case of recurring events, as their participants had enough time to become accustomed to the registration process,” explains Zuzanna Rachowska, Marketing Manager & Event Project Manager at Fielddrive.

    This February the innovative registration method will soon be put to its most demanding test during a New Orleans conference, which will be attended by approximately 17,000 delegates. NeoFace is another noteworthy company offering similar technological solutions, whose NeoFace® Watch and NeoFace® Reveal software is put to use mostly in the field of security. The US company Expo Logic is a trusted supplier of registration services, including mobile applications.

    Quickly and Effectively

    Fielddrive features API (application programme interface) integration with most registration platforms, such as Eventbrite, Aventri and EventMobi. Data needed to print ID badges are downloaded from a given platform. In addition to basic information, they might include a personalised event agenda or the individual dietary preferences of participants. The ID badges are then printed in self-service check-in kiosks and the whole procedure does not take more than six seconds.

    Even though we are dealing with a high-tech product, it is actually highly intuitive and user-friendly. At the stage of online registration, a participant is asked to agree to a check-in using the face recognition technology and to send a portrait photo or take a selfie with the help of an in-built camera. Next, the photos are converted into anonymised biometric data that are stored in the cloud until an event begins and then automatically deleted after its wrap-up.

    On the day of an event, a participant is asked to “smile” to a camera set in a kiosk and thus enable error-free facial recognition. Five second slater an ID badge is printed and information about successful registration of a given participant is sent to the system.

    Before a facial recognition application was introduced, the registration consisted of scanning a barcode included in an e-ticket or entering a name into a search engine in the software installed in a kiosk. “Despite numerous advantages resulting from the applied technology, which eliminates the need to print individual ID badges in advance, organisers – particularly of major meetings – opt for the so-called soft check-in on the day before the event. Their decision is influenced by long lines of people waiting to kiosks and a concern that several thousand participants will not be able to check-in simultaneously on the day of the event”, explains Zuzanna Rachowska.

    Broader Application

    In addition to the function of on-site event registration, facial recognition systems boast several other applications in the meetings industry, which were discussed by Julius Solaris, editor of Event Manager Blog, in his report “Facial Recognition and Events: A Comprehensive Guide (2018)”.

    The list includes: Watch lists – when an organiser anticipates the arrival of people not welcome at a given event, he can add them to the so-called watch list. This innovative method makes it possible to immediately identify them with the help of a video camera at the registration phase or even during the event.

    An additional advantage involves the option of programming the system so that it informs security staff and police about the presence of a person that should be kept out of the venue. “Our customers, especially the ones specialising in supplying accurate technological solutions (such as Synopsys) are concerned with preventing ‘data leakage” and making sure that the corporate know-how remains safe.

    A face recognition tool makes it much easier to guarantee that unwelcome attendants will not become involved”, explains Zuzanna Rachowska. Moreover, the technology makes it possible to compile so-called white lists for very important persons, whose satisfaction with the meeting is a priority for the organiser.

    Session tracking – Face recognition systems also supply information about attendance figures and participants’ interest in a given educational session. Such feedback can be exceptionally helpful when booking conference rooms or selecting speakers for an event’s successive edition. “Session tracking with face recognition can be as simple as putting a tablet or cell phone on a stand near the entrance of each room. (…) There is no need for special hardware and expensive installation costs,” Julius Solaris emphasises in his report.

    Heat maps – Data concerning the number and profile of people visiting an exhibitor’s booth at an industry trade fair will help him prepare much better for the next edition and thus impact his financial results. The same information can be applied by an organiser when working on a price list of exhibition space hire. Managers of event venues also recognised the potential of innovative facial recognition technology. A great example is provided by RAI Amsterdam Exhibition and Convention Centre, the first venue planning to add a face recognition tool to its offer.

    Is There Anything to Be Afraid Of?

    Despite numerous advantages of facial recognition systems, only 20% to 70% of participants (depending on event type) decide to register using the discussed method. The protection of personal data is among the most troubling issues. Panos Moutafis, co-founder and President of Zenus Inc., argues that the procedure is in full compliance with GDPR regulations. “The photos sent by users are then converted into biometric data applied in check-in kiosks. They are deleted immediately upon reception, while the database is removed from Fielddrive and Zenus servers within seven days from an event’s completion.

    What is more, neither photographs nor biometric data are linked with the personal data of participants, but rather with identification numbers that simply cannot be linked with the concrete profile of a given person”, explains Panos Moutafis. On the other hand, distributors of the technology in question unanimously emphasise that it is the duty of an organiser to inform guests about the course and advantages of registration using facial recognition, placing distinct emphasis on the optional character of the service.

    Within Arm’s Reach

    The future of facial recognition looks promising. “Brand-new technological solutions will make it possible to recognise the emotions and mood of event guests. Soon facial features of participants of an educational session will tell us if they are bored or excited,” explains James Morgan, owner of Event Tech Lab. This knowledge not only constitutes direct feedback about an event’s success, but also makes response to the needs of participants much faster.

    The Emogram application, currently available only as a beta release, measures 11 basic human emotions in about five minutes. Fielddrive is working on introducing facial recognition technology into HoloLens, Microsoft’s mixed-reality device. Finally, in addition to improving security, the innovative tool can also perform other, more advanced roles.

    Based on information made available during the registration process, a hostess will be able to welcome participants with their favourite cocktail and show them to the place of their first meeting. Another high-tech product, the Zenus smart camera allows to measure the level of participant satisfaction and the popularity of exhibition booths at trade fairs. The latest Zenus devices will be launched to a wider audience by the end of the first quarter of 2019.


    Journalist with THINK MICE | Freelance Event Designer | Media & PR Coordinator – MPI Poland Chapter

  • The Road to Sustainability in Events

    By Paula Blomster


    MPI blue logo

    This new decade started with very disturbing pictures of burnt koalas and headlines of their ”imminent extinction.” Climate change has played a role in this catastrophic and unprecedented early fire season, and the meeting industry can take the lead in tackling this universal issue.

    Sustainability in event planning is a strong trend currently. I believe it will become the norm in future years. Sustainability is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. In other words, future generations should also be able to have a chance to meet with koalas in nature, not only in natural history museums. It is important to point out here that the data on the status of koala populations in Australia is ongoing—we do know that the species was already in danger prior to the fires. The sad news surrounding koalas has at least put a much-needed focus on an animal that might still have a chance if we make changes now.

    The Four Pillars of Sustainability

    Sustainability has four main pillars; environmental, economic, social and cultural. Environmental initiatives for the meeting industry have been around for a long while. The 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen presented various “greening” actions to reduce the carbon footprint of this event with 33,000 participants. Water bottles were eliminated, locally-sourced vegetarian food was offered, participants received free tickets for public transportation and flights were offset. Advice on how to reduce the carbon footprint of events can be easily found in the Internet. Here in Finland, we have also a digital calculator to measure the impacts of our events. These calculations are not 100 percent precise, but they quickly give a clear picture on which parts of the event are most harmful so planners can easily adapt; for example, catering plays a very important role.

    The economic factor of events is obvious. The event business is one of the largest economic sectors in the world with its direct spending of over $1 billion annually (Events Industry Council 2018). Can you imagine what a difference we can do with that purchasing power? When we source from socially responsible actors, work with companies who pay decent salaries for the employees or those that make a real change. For example, one of my clients had their conference bags made in organic cotton by a female co-operative in the developing world. An order of 6,000 bags made a difference for that co-op.

    Many events leave a strong social legacy in the destination where they are organized. The social aspect of sustainability is the area where an event planner can give space for her/his creativity. Charity runs have been organized in connection with events for decades. Some events choose a local NGO, to whom they collect funds or encourage participants to bring gifts from their destinations to be donated. Marginalized groups can be included to participate in the event. At an MPI conference in Rome in 2018, charming youngsters with cerebral palsy were sharply dressed in their tuxedos and they showed us the way to lecture halls. I have never felt like more of a VIP in my life!

    The cultural pillar is often forgotten. Here, you could use as guideline “be cautious and respectful.” Do not ever present any group in a stereotypical way. Respect all other ways of thinking, dressing and acting; theme parties or cultural presentations in the wrong setting can bring you more harm than positive exposure. Remember the wise words of Winston Churchill and act like a pig: “I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

    Looking Forward

    A very nice way to take all aspects of sustainability in your event is to include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in event planning and start reporting how your event addresses these challenges locally. Don’t be afraid, use all 17 goals—even when your event probably only impacted some of them. Start following them and you will see that your imagination on sustainability matters will reach completely new levels.

    The sustainable pressure for our common blue globe is terrifying. There is urgency for action, but there is also a moment for hope. Even the koalas might still have a chance.


    Paula Blomster holds a Master degree in Social Sciences, and has accomplished advanced studies in Economics and Business. Paula has worked in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Nicaragua besides her home country Finland. She is currently in charge for the international sales in the largest exhibition and convention center in Finland, Messukeskus Helsinki. She is past president of MPI Finland and currently member of MPI European Advisory Council.

  • Trends, By Default, Shaping our Future

    By Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM

    The Harris Poll’s John Gerzema, who is the CEO of Harris Insights and Analytics, spoke at last year’s CEIR Predict Conference. His session, Trends Shaping Our Future, was the highest-rated session of the conference. Monitoring trends and being proactive in questioning how emerging trends might impact exhibitions are helpful in developing proactive strategies.

    Some of the trends poised to impact trade, and consumer events, are being driven by the Gen Z generation, currently ages 13 to 24, who want and expect frictionless, instant and trackable insta-convenience; they expect same-day responses from companies. Cashless payments using mobile phones is expected to move fast. Corporate social responsibility is a strong trend, as well as a company being authentic to its brand, reflecting its customer base.

    Here are just a few of the trends Gerzema spoke about and exhibition organizers should be focused on today:

    1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been on our radar for a couple of years now. Organizers and service providers alike should have a CSR statement and activating CSR initiatives by now. Recycling and upcycling are equally important. There is a lot of waste in the supply chain for the exhibition industry. Organizers and suppliers of exhibitions should examine the waste their exhibitions generate. Identify what can be donated to local charities or repurposed for future events. CSR is not just an initiative that appeals to the Gen Z generation – it is the right thing to do.
    2. In a time when data privacy is becoming increasingly important, how do exhibition organizers balance the need for more data to create engaging experiences and compliance with data privacy laws? To this end, focus on what attendees want and value, as your guiding principles. In a Harris Insights study, just over 50 percent of Americans indicated they would share data for personalized services and products.
    3. People are busier today than ever before. They are more selective with how they spend their dollars and use their scarce time. Rather than buy a Volvo, they may subscribe to one. Americans are choosing to watch television based on how much time they have, instead of what the content is. Gerzema referred to this as The Nibble Economy and explained brands are adjusting accordingly. Think about how to break down shows into bits and pieces, or “snackable” opportunities for attendees and exhibitors to align with this trend.
    4. The Food Sector is booming as evidenced in the 2019 CEIR Index Report, 5.4% growth in 2018 and forecasted growth of 4% in 2019. In a 2019 Harris Poll, 29 percent of Americans are concerned about genetically modified ingredients, with 24 percent concerned about animal welfare and another 24 percent want transparency about how their food is produced. We have all either held events, or attended one, where the food or the food service was lacking. Know your audience and their food preferences, and work with venues when developing menus. Surprise and delight participants. Share with them information about the food being served.
    5. Diversity and Inclusion is an important issue for the exhibitions industry. Organizations should by now have a plan for ensuring inclusion in their events. Is your speaker line-up mostly white, mostly male or female, lacking cultural diversity, primarily middle age? If so, be intentional about making the event more diverse and inclusive. This topic is important to the younger generation. And, there may be growth opportunities in diversifying your audience.

    Society is in a hyper-personalization stage, with no end in sight. As ways to engage digitally, analytics will continue to support an ever more refined experience for the individual, with a growing intolerance for anything that does not support this “want.” This impacts the exhibition industry, how events are being produced and the content being delivered.

    In the next CEIR newsletter, we will focus on the other trends John Gerzema described. These trends and more will be discussed at the CEIR Predict Conference, 21-22 September 2020 at the MGM National Harbor outside of Washington D.C.

  • Taking Another Look at Data Security and Privacy in Events

    Historically, data security and privacy have not been high priorities for event organizers. Many don’t feel particularly vulnerable because the incidence of data breaches associated with events is low. That posture is changing.

    As the meeting industry transforms digitally, more data is produced and processed by more suppliers. New regulations put non-compliant organizations in legal and financial jeopardy and data theft outside the event industry occurs daily. It’s time to look at where the vulnerabilities lie and how to preserve the integrity, transparency and reputation of the industry.

    Pointing Out Weaknesses

    Hugh K. Lee, president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Fusion Productions and the annual digitalNow conference, has emphasized to association leaders the importance of data security and privacy for more than a decade, saying that it’s “fundamental to your trusted role, brand, community and content. But because software and devices at events today are so connected, data passes more easily from one platform to another and organizers can easily lose control.

    “When data gets two or three connections down the line, you don’t know if it’s being hacked or how it’s being used,” Lee says.

    He believes that association meetings are particularly high-value targets because so much desirable information is collected about a specific population of individuals when people convene.

    “Think about what [bad actors] want,” Lee says. “They want names, addresses, citizenship, interests, frequent traveler information, food preferences, allergies, special interests and those kinds of things.”

    Even meeting programming—session topics and speakers—have value to would-be disrupters, he says.

    Corporate meetings, such as user group conferences, are arguably even more exposed, says Debbie Chong, an attorney specializing in regulatory compliance and privacy and co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Lenos Software. It’s not only credit card, passport, driver license and other forms of identification often collected to verify and qualify attendees that attract the attention of data hackers.

    “Housing information can pose a risk from a security standpoint and Bluetooth beacons that capture information like who you’re meeting with and where is highly valuable to competitors, in addition to being privacy intrusive,” Chong says.

    Risking Revenue and Reputation

    According to Frank Schettini, owner of Philadelphia-based digital and business transformation consultancy FAS concepts and former chief innovation officer for ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), events are at risk on two fronts.

    “If your organization doesn’t really care about its data security and it becomes public, the likelihood of the event being successful not only from a revenue perspective, but from a reputation perspective is highly suspect,” he says.

    The regulatory climate is also heating up. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has impacted the data privacy policies and practices at organizations and companies around the world. Organizations deemed not to be in compliance face steep fines.

    “The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined British Airways a proposed US$230 million for an incident that took place from June to September 2018 and compromised the data of 500,000 customers,” according to a report. “The ICO gave Marriott a $123 million proposed penalty for the loss of 339 million guest records, reported in November 2018.”

    GDPR is one of several regulatory measures that governments are taking. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is “stricter and tougher to track” than GDPR, Schettini says. Under California’s new law, organizations “literally have to tell everyone what data they have, describe how they’re going to use it, give [users] an option on how to change how the data can be used and every year report to them how the data was used,” he explains. Biometric surveillance systems such as facial recognition (an emerging event technology) are being scrutinized or banned in some major cities, including San Francisco.

    Data collection in and around the physical event isn’t the only risk event organizers face. Event marketers commonly profile website visitors using “cookies,” data stored on a user’s device by a web browser. GDPR requires that the use of cookies be disclosed and that website visitors opt into being tracked. The problem, Chong says, is that there are many types of cookies and organizations aren’t always clear about that with their disclosures. She also finds practices such as placing the Google-owned reCaptcha tool on corporate event websites to be disconcerting. The software helps site owners to control who is using the site (humans vs. bots), but it also allows Google to capture user data and use it according to Google’s privacy policy.

    Almost all event owners use at least one third party, such as event management companies and event technology providers. While GDPR requires that data controllers (owners) be as compliant as data processors (third parties), many organizations don’t have the resources or internal expertise to appropriately vet third-party solutions.

    “Having a clear understanding of what the potential threats are and still saying, ‘I’m going to go with my third party on that without asking questions,’ says to me that you’re rolling the dice,” Lee says. “One day, if it comes up craps, you’re in trouble. It could wipe out an association or a show.”

    Identifying Vulnerabilities

    Event Wi-Fi is probably the biggest area of weakness on site, Schettini says. Even the fortified Wi-Fi networks of hacker conferences such as Black Hat get hacked, he adds. Onsite registration in an unsecured environment, for example, can yield attendee credit card, personal identification and demographic data to hackers. Pocket-sized devices called Wi-Fi Pineapples, originally developed to sniff out the vulnerabilities of wireless networks, can also facilitate the collection of sensitive personal information from unsuspecting event participants over unsecured or easily accessible Wi-Fi networks.

    Bad actors can capture attendee tracking information transmitted from proximity beacons and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers to cloud-based software via the internet if they also obtain the registrant’s identification number.

    “Whenever you have an industry getting together with key people and key information around future products, innovation or R&D pathways, digital IDs become a valuable target,” says Joe Colangelo, CEO and co-founder of Arlington, Va.-based Bear Analytics Inc.

    Other ways to compromise event data include spoofing, “gaining access to key registration information by pretending to be an official from the event or from an event technology company to gain private and sensitive information about registrants,” Colangelo explains.

    With registrant emails, phishing scams (sending emails designed to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers) could wreak havoc on an event.

    “You could imagine getting emails saying, ‘You’ve registered, but your payment didn’t go through,’” Colangelo says.

    Unauthorized individuals roaming a conference pose another threat. Unsecured computers (in the show office, for example) connected to the show organizer’s network or event technology solutions’ administrative dashboards are open doors to all types of sensitive information. Likewise, hackers can upload malware or ransomware to the organization’s network using a USB drive on an unattended laptop. The local area networks (LANs) from technology vendors are also at risk from tampering. Credit card skimmers can be placed over the card swipe mechanisms on ATMs inside event venues.

    Overcoming Inherent Obstacles

    The wholesale embrace of data security and privacy policies and processes in the meeting industry is complicated. Technology is outpacing governance and event owners are hard pressed to solve problems (the widespread hacking of meetings, for example) that haven’t completely manifested.

    “I just can’t emphasize to [organizers] enough that we live in a world where leadership in the digital age is very different,” Lee says. “It’s about new and disruptive technologies coming out at a faster rate than ever.”

    Budget is also a deterrent. Blockchain technology has been suggested as a remedy for giving individuals more control over their personal data, and “it would be a great strategy,” Schettini says.

    “[But] the question then becomes, ‘What applications are out there that leverage blockchain or do you have to do a custom build?’ Because, again, now you have to ask how much it’s going to cost,” he adds.

    GDPR complicates the efforts of event owners to monetize attendee data. While selling attendee contact information is a nonstarter for many groups, proximity data (which attendees visited a booth, how long they stayed and what they were looking at) is definitely still on the table. Plus, monetizing data is an important objective of corporate event owners—software even places information about one-to-one meetings taking place during the event directly into the company’s sales enablement platform to speed up sales conversions. GDPR makes the processes for gathering and using such data more cumbersome.

    The demands of data security and privacy can be overwhelming to many organizations—especially smaller event owners with fewer resources to address the challenges. Most are still trying to cope with the rapid onset of digital technologies, the abundance of data being collected and the training and personnel required to manage events in the 21st century. Following data through the various channels and vendors can seem like one more exercise they’re ill-equipped to handle.

    Stepped-up efforts to make an event more secure can also translate into potentially disgruntled and lost attendees. Making it more difficult to log into the conference Wi-Fi, giving attendees unique mobile app passwords that are easy to forget and difficult to recover and requiring multiple forms of identification to gain entry to an event are good ways to make the event more secure, but a breeding ground for participant discontent.

    Finding the Fixes

    A comprehensive approach to data security and privacy requires that event organizers take a number of actions. Training employees should be a top priority. Organizers have to show staffers “how to avoid scams and misinformation and who to notify,” Lee says.

    When Frank Schettini worked at ISACA, the organization ran a fake phishing attack using employee information that was easily gleaned from the internet. About 60 percent of the staff opened the emails and 25 percent to 30 percent clicked through.

    “Training about what to be aware of and what to avoid is really important and it doesn’t cost a lot of money,” Schettini says.

    Third-party security audits can reveal serious vulnerabilities. They expose policies and processes associated with collecting, processing and displaying customer information that breach security and compliance protocols. Such examinations of an organization’s security capabilities can also produce reports, such as Security Organization Control (SOC) reports, a third-party approved standard for auditing an organization’s internal data and security infrastructure.

    Communicating information appropriately and multiple times to attendees reinforces trust. Schettini advises “something as simple as an explanation of how the data is going to be used, collected and shared and the measures we are taking to protect that data” should be confirmed in an email after registration and again during the event. Chong points out that “privacy rights are different than terms and conditions” and recommends placing two separate statements requiring user consent on the event website.

    Choosing only to work with vendors that take data security and privacy seriously is a policy shift that organizers can also make. Chong’s firm adheres to a “Privacy by Design” business model, which considers data protection and privacy in software design and implementation, as well as a company’s business practices.

    “It’s always been our position that our clients’ data belongs to our clients, and it’s their decision whether they share it or not,” she says.

    Chong also advocates reducing the amount of data technology companies collect and store.

    “At Lenos, attendee credit card information goes directly to the credit card company and we receive a token,” she explains.

    Protecting data and privacy requires diligence and some resources. However, Schettini says, it also represents an excellent opportunity for organizations across the event ecosystem (planners and suppliers) to build competitive advantage—an industry-wide cyber security and data privacy task force “that gets groups to admit there is a challenge, start communicating and share best practices is a good initial step,” he adds.

    Until then, Lee offers the industry a Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday, but it’s now today, so plant it today.”


    Michelle Bruno
    Michelle Bruno

    Michelle Bruno is a writer, blogger and technology journalist. She publishes Event Tech Brief, a newsletter and website on event technology. You can reach her at or @michellebruno on Twitter.