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  • 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.

  • A Digital Dilemma for Meeting & Event Suppliers

    By Allan Lynch


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    There is a digital dilemma in the meetings sector. It’s not about event apps or better presentation technology—it’s more basic. It’s the failure of supplier websites to provide useful—and accurate—information.
    Recently, Marriott and Radisson announced plans for new websites geared toward meetings, but will those sites provide the detail planners and incentive houses need, or will they, like so many other hotel, convention center and other venue websites, miss the mark?
    Meetings account for 30 percent to 40 percent of a hotel’s business, yet the information planners and incentive houses need is often dismissively handled on websites. And collateral print and digital materials don’t compliment websites.

    Supplier Website Accuracy

    Many supplier websites are inaccurate, lack essential information (like number of guest rooms), are hard to navigate (meeting space is hidden under weddings) and overlook local benefits that could help spur interest in a particular property.

    These oversights and errors may be becoming codified by the consolidation in property ownership, which spreads a mistake made at one property across the brand and to all flags within the chain.

    I first noticed it several years ago doing a nationwide project. Research requires we directly contact properties and destinations. Sometimes to qualify a property, I, like planners, go online to tire kick to see if they meet the standards of our readers. For that national project I clicked through 128 websites. Only 11 had information I could trust.

    There’s a staggering amount of inconsistency in destination and property facts. For example, on a September site inspection, the sales director told me they had 725,000 square feet of meeting and event space. However, the press kit fact sheet said they have “600,000 square feet of flexible meeting convention, exhibit and pre-function space.” The property’s website listed 757,478 square feet, while their destination marketing organization’s site showed “more than 700,000 square feet.” Cvent listed its total meeting space as “>100,000 square feet.”

    As for F&B outlets, the property fact sheet listed 17 restaurants and lounges on site, while a glossy resort guide listed 13 on one page and 19 on another. The website said 15. So many numbers, so much inconsistency.

    I wonder if some sales directors ever read their websites. Researching a mountain meetings piece I found the website for a large (470-plus guest rooms), well-known ski resort that listed “in-room bathrooms” under room amenities. Was this a joke or content provided by wildly inexperienced staff? Three years later “in-room bathrooms” are still listed as an amenity!

    Purge Non-Essential Content

    Many companies, events and destinations throw a site on the web and think they’re done. At least that’s how they act. Websites have to be dynamic to get attention.

    According to, there are 1.8 billion websites in existence. That’s one site for every four people on earth. And new sites are added, on average, every two seconds. That’s almost the birth rate. Of all these websites, less than 1 million sites account for 50 percent of all web traffic.

    Website owners should consider how often their site is updated or refreshed.

    In an interview with travel aggregator TravelMole, Alex Painter, president of website speed and performance testing company Eggplant, said it’s important for businesses to identify and remove “single points of failure” from websites.

    Painter advised getting “rid of non-essential content. If there is anything on your site that is redundant, get rid of it. It’s the excess baggage to your customers’ serene and speedy journey. Newer features are added more often than older features are removed.” That can contribute to the space and amenity confusion. For example, a hotel re-invents their dining room: new menu, new name, new décor. That gets added to the website, but the former name isn’t deleted and potential clients are confused about what is available.

    Much of the property and venue website messaging has become mind-numbingly generic and repetitive. As a consequence of this repetition, messages get weaker and less relevant to planners.

    In a LinkedIn discussion on the unreliability of hotel capacity charts, the VP of a Texas-based management services company said he cuts capacity by 25 percent: “For some reason most hotels are completely incapable of measuring the dimensions of their rooms accurately.” A hotelier responded, “capacity charts are not intended to be a standalone tool. These charts are used as a point of reference, but, more importantly, to have people engage in a conversation about the event.”

    In Conclusion

    The idea of capacity charts—or a lack of other property details—being a place from which to start a conversation is a passé concept illustrating the disconnect between seller and buyer. Planners today are too time-pressed. They’re often pulling together a client proposal from the road, in the evening or on a weekend. They don’t have time or the inclination to call a property. They specifically don’t want to engage in any conversation with anyone they can’t first qualify.

    We have the technology to communicate well, but we don’t always seem to be doing so.


    Allan Lynch is a former newspaper publisher who chucked the office routine to return to his first love: writing. Based near the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, he specializes in writing about the meeting industry.

  • Big Decisions: Are you considering a broad range of information sources?

    Originally published by Shelley Row, P.E., CSP on 9 December

    We’re learning about the ten skills that technical professionals need when they become a manager. Let’s discuss the importance of having a broad range of information sources.

    Big Decisions: Are you considering a broad range of information sources?

    When you need to gather information for a big decision, who do you go to? Your most trusted buddies. Your go-to people who alwaysOrganization Sources have wise input. Respected leaders outside your organization. These are what I call your “usual suspects.” You talk with them often and you trust their judgment. But what about the others – that argumentative person, the contrarian who always sees a situation differently from you and isn’t afraid to point that out, the inquisitor who asks question after pointed question? Be honest. Do you find that you avoid their input? It’s time to change that.

    Why? Because you cannot make a wise decision by talking only to those with whom you prefer and who are more likely to agree with you and more likely to see the world from a similar perspective. That leads to insular thinking and can cause you to miss key inputs that could sway your decision.

    To lead with insight and make the best decisions, you must push yourself to also engage with and listen to those who are not likely to agree and who are likely to have a different perspective.

    There’s a reason you are inclined to talk with whom you agree. It is easier and less energy-intensive for your brain and theirs to seek out those who agree. Notice the increased energy needed to engage with those with whom you don’t agree. You need more energy to listen and self-manage your reaction in order to remain open to their different ideas. It can be exhausting….and it’s critically important to robust decision-making.  Without considering a wide range of perspectives, you will miss opportunities or miscalculate pitfalls.

    To make good decisions, you must engage with four types of people.

    1. Your closest colleagues.
    2. Your biggest critics.
    3. Those with fringe opinions.
    4. Those outside everyone’s circle.

    Identify people who fit into each bucket. For big decisions, make a plan to gather information from people in each bucket so that you have complete and realistic input.

    1. Your closest colleagues. This is the easiest group. You know these people. They are your buddies, friends and respected colleagues. You probably share a similar world view and leadership approach. Talk with them and push them to consider other perspectives. When you identify a desirable approach, ask, “If this approach isn’t available, what is another approach to consider?” This question forces a conversation that expands perspectives.

    1. Who do you trust?
    2. Who are your go-to people?
    3. Who are your most trusted colleagues?
    4. Who are you comfortable talking to?

    2. Your biggest critics. Who are the people who always disagree with you? They will argue the point, flag all the problems, and ask annoyingly tough questions. Identify them and seek out their opinions. This can be challenging and it will take a lot of energy so be sure to talk with them when your energy level is high and you can use your mental capacity to truly hear their thoughts and ideas. There is wisdom here if you can hear it.

    1. Who are the people who ask pointed questions?
    2. Who are the contrarians who always have an opposing viewpoint?
    3. Who are the people with whom you regularly disagree?
    4. Who are the people who you don’t really trust?
    5. Who are the people with whom you dread talking?

    3. Those with fringe opinions. Consider a bell curve. It’s likely that the people in buckets 1 and 2 are on either side of the mean in the center of the curve. Who are the people on the tail ends of the curve? These are the people with fringe opinions. They probably don’t have a big following behind their opinions, but you need to hear from them. Innovation doesn’t come from the center of the bell curve, it comes from the far edges. While you may not adopt their perspective fully, you may discover a nugget of truth that should be considered, particularly for long-term decisions.

    1. Who are the people on the fringe of each issue?
    2. Who are the people who speak up but are ignored?
    3. Who are the people talking about topics that make others uncomfortable?
    4. Who are the people that others make fun of?

    4. Those outside everyone’s circle. What are industries adjacent to yours? What industries have gone through an evolution similar to yours? Are you able to identify a few people to talk within those industries? If not, can you research that industry and the issues with which it grappled? There may be powerful learning opportunities from other industries that can inform your thinking or open new ways of perceiving your decision.

    1. What other industries are going through changes like yours? What can you research about the evolution of that industry?
    2. Who do you know in other industries who may have a useful perspective?
    3. Who from another industry has a thought process you respect?

     If you want to make a well-informed decision, take the time to identify people in each of these four buckets and consult with them. Hear their ideas without judgment, let their input sink in and weave it into your decision-making process. The result is enhanced decisions from deeper insight. That’s a key to sound leadership. How well are you considering input from a wide range of sources?

    Share your stories about gathering input from others with Shelley here.

    Shelley Row, P.E., CSP works with executives, managers and organizations to develop insightful leaders who must see beyond the data. Shelley helps you grow the bottom line and reduce workplace drama by bringing you practical techniques in decision-making, motivation and teamwork that are grounded in neuroscience and her executive and engineering experience.  Named by Inc. as a top 100 leadership speaker, she is also a consultant and author. Learn more at

  • Uncertainties Can Drive Positive Social Change and Success

    By Johnalee Johnston


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    A wave of global socioeconomic and political uncertainty has international meetings growth balancing on a hinge. But one simple shift in the status quo could change everything.

    The beginning of last year saw many emerging markets either rise from the ashes of recession or stabilize, while consumer confidence helped advanced economies find their footing mid-year. By the end of 2018, however, the global economy began to tip nostalgically like a paperboy’s hat. Chief Economist and Strategist David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff touched on this economic weariness in a recent tweet that analyzed the Federal Open Market Community’s (FOMC) excessive use of the words “risk” and “uncertainty” in its July meeting notes, which were “more than what we saw at any meeting during the Great Recession, as well as the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” he said.

    As the committee within the Federal Reserve System that oversees U.S. monetary policy, recession warnings in the U.S. bond market combined with financial fumbling in the U.K., Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Hong Kong and Germany, as recently reported by CNN, would typically prompt the FOMC to cut interest rates. Yet, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has stated that the committee has never been more divided on the subject; never more uncertain.

    Rosenberg’s observation and the Fed’s indecision give momentum to the 2019 Global Uncertainty Index, a report that measures the frequency of the words “uncertain” or “uncertainty” throughout the newspapers of 20 countries in relation to economic policy. Uncertainty reached record high levels this year and has remained a caveat to global business events. An abundance of socioeconomic drivers—tit-for-tat trade wars and the rising dollar to political uncertainty and personal safety—are hampering the evolution of global events and will likely keep the MICE industry in limbo through 2020.

    Hidden among these challenges, however, is one clear opportunity to leverage uncertainty for positive social change, and thus, strategic growth in global business events.

    Make Events Safe for Everyone

    Perceptions of safety sit at the foundation of the human hierarchy of needs, or Maslow’s pyramid. The same can be said of events. In the U.S., reported hate crimes, defined loosely as crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, gender, religion, etc., are on a five-year upward trend, according to the FBI. Research conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, and by professors at the University of North Texas and Texas A&M, found significant correlations between hate crimes and ramped up political rhetoric.

    This should be alarming given the sheer diversity of domestic and international delegates, as well as the economic impact that international visitors have on the U.S. economy—an estimated $256 billion in export income last year, says the U.S. Travel Association. It should be alarming, but such political provocations are steadily becoming the norm, placing everyday social discourse somewhere between political essayist Christopher Hitchens’ “Those who are determined to be ‘offended’ will discover a provocation somewhere” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of bad people but for the appalling silence of good people.” Not too surprising, despite its monetary might, international visits to the U.S. have been slowing since 2016.

    Consequently, 2016 was also the year that the dark underbelly of data collection, distribution and utilization as they relate to global politics was exposed on a mass scale. Although the ramifications are still being quantified, we now know that businesses, with the help of powerhouse data gurus like Cambridge Analytica, have the technology to amplify and use our personal biases against us in the democratic process and elsewhere. In other words, data protection hasn’t fully caught up with the technology of data acquisition. In the events realm, where the demand for hyper-personalization sifts sensitive information through many hands, data clearly comes with its own bag of uncertainties.

    American Express Meetings and Events’ recent forecast on global meetings added weather and the offshoots of climate change to the mix of worries. According to the report, European planners say that even with great security and a fantastic price, the uncertainty of weather events—heat waves to increased frequency of extreme weather events—now removes many locations from the table. The International Monetary Fund has gone so far as to report that the “U.S. is expected to see its GDP per capita decline 10.5 percent, China’s by 4.3 percent and the European Union’s by 4.6 percent over the next 81 years.”

    Women Must Rise

    The common denominator to all of the uncertainties that plague the events industry is a topic that is so frequently in the media that it has, in many regards, become social white noise. Gender inequality touches every roadblock to success—economics to the environment—and has historically been negatively associated with per capita GDP growth. Dr. Mara Catherine Harvey, Head Global UHNW Germany, Austria and Italy, addressed this need for “feminine finance” in a recent interview with MPI. “The semantics around money are extremely biased and masculine-oriented,” she said, adding that a 10 percent pay gap women vs. men can lead to a 40 percent wealth and pension gap over a lifetime. The pay gap is closer to 16 and 20 percent in the U.S. and Europe, respectively. After studying lifetime earnings of men and women in 141 countries, the World Bank Group actually put a $160 trillion annual price tag on global gender inequality. If women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth would increase by $23,620 per person, on average, according to the report.

    In a similar vein, women earn the majority of university degrees and account for more than half of the U.S. population, yet—corporate boardrooms to the halls of Congress—hold less than 30 percent of executive positions. Asian, black and Hispanic women account for less than four percent. Research on private firms has shown that managerial gender diversity is related to positive performance outcomes, while board gender diversity significantly improves corporate social responsibility. Women also tend to be more collaborative in work and leadership, more empathetic and much less violent than men; a whopping 95 percent less violent in terms of global homicides, according to the “Global Study on Homicide” report conducted by the United Nations. And in terms of safety, research shows that women in positions of power make other women and minorities feel safer than their male counterparts to report violence, sexual harassment or other gender-based crimes.

    Make Finance Feminine

    The dark cloud of gender inequality also looms over a traditional economics model that takes from Mother Nature, makes and later disposes of goods. Clearly unsustainable, one cannot help but connect the devaluing and disrespect of nature, the force that provides life and protection to all living things, to the lack of equality, respect and positive representation of females in society.

    In the events industry, the snail-paced shift toward sustainable supply chains and other practices keeps pace with the level of gender equality found throughout the industry. While the role of the meeting planner is overwhelmingly occupied by females, for example, top management and C-level positions are still overwhelmingly held by men. This inequality gives way to sexism and sexual harassment, two things that most women have experienced in terms of the professional challenges they have faced.

    The Bottom Line

    The future of global events is inseparably linked to our willingness and ability as an industry to uplift women. When women rise, we all rise.



    Johnalee Johnston is a wildly creative and curious disruptor of the status quo and MPI’s digital editor.


  • Finding the Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Meeting Industry

    By Heather Hansen


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    I spend a fair amount of time working with entrepreneurs, and I could come up with a host of ways to describe them. These come to mind quickly: passionate, messy, talented, crazy, changers of the world. If you’re an entrepreneur, I’m guessing you aren’t offended by this at all. You know this to be true. There is an honor and a pride in embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.

    But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to cultivate this spirit. Although innate in many, it is a skill and a way of viewing and acting in the world that can be learned. It is especially helpful in the meeting industry, with its ever-changing trends and constant reinvention.

    One of my favorite definitions came from a Forbes article by Jacquelyn Smith where she wrote, “Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.” This is what we strive for in MPI!

    Using this definition, you can see how beneficial this viewpoint can be if you:

    • Are a planner looking to stand out with innovative events that wow
    • Are looking to design state-of-the-art meeting space or technology
    • Want to take your talent, experience and original concepts out into the world to serve a niche within the event industry

    An entrepreneur finds the gap and fills it.

    “Professionally, I seem to have always worked with organizations entering a transition phase—being the calm in the storm, assuming additional responsibilities as needed, fixing organizational challenges or managing the change process,” says Sue Alexander, founder of Spire Consulting, who decided to take this skillset and niche it to meeting planning. “I have taken the opportunity to be a consultant working as a change agent or fixer—the 911 of meeting planning.”

    There are many minor nuances and gaps in the meeting industry that provide opportunities for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit.

    Less obvious, but just as powerful, is the opportunity to develop the entrepreneurial spirit within a corporate environment. Research the top companies and you will find the thread of this spirit strongly woven into their culture.

    Big, cutting-edge companies such as Apple, Virgin Group and Amazon are joined by newer pioneers such as Marvel Studios, Peloton and Waze. You can see the benefits of innovation and continuous improvement in these large organizations, but smaller companies benefit as well.

    “At DeSilva Meeting Consultants, a DMC Network Company, we select team members who have their own personal talents and strengths to bring to the table. As a small company, our president, Josh DeSilva, values everyone’s opinions and includes everyone on the team when a major business decision needs to be made,” says Lauren Manuel, DeSilva account executive and president-elect of the MPI Aloha Chapter. “He counts on every one of us to shine in our own way, keeping the values of our company in mind. The trust he has for our team allows us to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Because of that, I feel we are more creative and productive, resulting in a higher level of efficiency and quality in our work.”

    The term “Let the spirit move you…” strikes a cord. The entrepreneurial spirit is a moving energy. It isn’t stagnant. It’s driving. Always changing, growing. Like each of us here at MPI.

    If you are looking to generate an entrepreneurial spirit within you or at your company, there are specific tips that can help.

    5 Tips to Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Spirit

    1. Quieting the chaos. Sometimes the noise all around us can mask an inner fire. Getting away and quieting the incessant barrage of technology, requests and demands is exactly what you need to listen and encourage the inner entrepreneur.
    2. Constant development. Reading, researching or experiencing things outside your arena and expertise can stimulate creativity. Take a class that you’ve always been interested in and I guarantee it will trigger an inspired idea.
    3. Physical movement. Often I hear that the first thing that goes in the busy schedule of a meeting professional is exercise. Little do we understand, the time moving your body in a way that you enjoy (this part is important—if you hate running, choose something else!) generates more energy, ideas and dreams than you could even incorporate. Warning: Plan to use your phone or a journal to record your thoughts right afterward because they can be fleeting.
    4. Nurture with nature. Listening to waves, taking a walk or communing with nature in general has a powerful capacity to stimulate ideas. Notice the colors, shapes, sounds and scents outside and incorporate them into your themes—I’d love to hear how this worked for you.
    5. Right connections. Surround yourself with people who know more than you, who are forward focused, optimistic and empowering. Nothing can pull more out of you than the right, positive connection.

    As you can see, fostering the entrepreneurial spirit is beneficial within all areas of the meeting industry. You’ll spark your own imagination. You’ll disrupt the industry with new ideas, technologies and creative solutions. You’ll pave the way to the next generation of meetings. We need your spirit!


    Heather is an award-winning keynote speaker, author and connection expert helping associations and companies create better leaders and more cohesive teams. She’s also the immediate past president of the MPI WestField Chapter and a recommended MPI facilitator. Learn more at

  • CEIR Announces 2019 Third Quarter Results

    Exhibition Industry Continues to Grow Modestly

    DALLAS, 12 December 2019 – The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that growth of the exhibition industry continued during the third quarter of 2019. The CEIR Total Index, a measure of exhibition industry performance, posted a modest year-over-year gain of 0.6% (see Figure 1) even though it under-performed the overall economy as reflected in the inflation-adjusted GDP (see Figure 2). While the performance during the third quarter was weaker than the first two quarters of the year, it was a slight improvement over the same quarter in 2018 when it registered a year-over-year anemic gain of 0.2%.

    Figure 1: Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-over-Year Growth, 2011Q1-2019Q3

    Figure 2: Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry vs. Quarterly Real GDP, Year-over-Year Growth, 2008Q1-2019Q3

    “The growth of the exhibition industry should pick up the pace moderately during the fourth quarter of the year through the first half of next year despite uncertainties surrounding trade negotiations with China and slowing world economic growth,” said CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc.

    Communications and Information Technology; Building, Construction, Home & Repair; and Food all registered robust year-over-year gains. In contrast, Education; Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services; and Raw Materials and Science posted year-over-year declines.

    All exhibition metrics in the third quarter posted positive year-over-year gains except net square feet (NSF) (Figures 3 and 4). Real revenues (nominal revenues adjusted for inflation) and exhibitors posted the largest increases of 1.7% and 0.6%, respectively. Attendees rose a modest 0.5% and net square feet (NSF) dropped 0.3%.

    Figure 3: Quarterly CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-over-Year Growth, 2019Q3

    Figure 4: Quarterly CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-over-Year Growth, 2009-2019Q3

    “In line with the macroeconomy, the growth of the exhibition industry has continued but at a slower pace,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM. “The growth during the first three quarters indicates that the exhibition industry is on track to register a ninth consecutive year of growth, albeit slowing growth as was forecasted by our economist in the 2019 CEIR Index Report.

    In addition to compiling the quarterly exhibition index, CEIR also offers analytical tools, an annual in-depth report and an outlook conference. The CEIR Event Performance Analyzer provides exhibition organizers with a tool to measure how an event is performing in its sector, as well as in the overall industry. The CEIR Index Report provides an economic overview of the exhibition industry, including key indicators for growth, and includes a three-year forecast for the business-to-business exhibitions and events industry. Together, these resources provide insights for developing business strategies and goals.

    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

  • Why You Need Detailed Customer Profiles.

    By MPI


    MPI blue logo

    This article was originally published by

    As an executive, sales professional or member of a large team, you know how important it is to do your homework. More specifically, you need a full view of your clients or customers, so you know what you’re walking into—and what kind of pitch or interaction will work best. After all, how can you engage someone directly, without knowing who they are and what they’re all about?


    That’s exactly where the concept of SWOT Analysis comes into play. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is a remarkably useful technique to help you identify your audience and get a foothold in the market.

    In business, it’s all about carving and targeting a sustainable niche. You learn as much as you possibly can about a rival party or client, before meeting or interacting. This gives you the resources and the preparedness to land an appropriate deal, pitch or engagement.

    Obviously, it’s impossible to conduct a SWOT analysis before every single meeting or event, but you can integrate this into a mobile app strategy to help facilitate this as much as possible. This is possible thanks to customer profiles or customer profiling. Personalized, customer profiles that allow the storage, organization and retrieval of data regarding a user or demographics.

    Think of it as a 360-degree account view, which provides the big picture, at least as it pertains to your audience and customers.

    How does this work?

    The option to automatically upload customer profile data can open new doors for you and your team. For example, before a meeting, you can look up any user or customer within the app, peruse their profile, read additional insights and connected data and then dive back into the real world. But once you’re prepared, you can face those customers or clientele with full confidence.

    The best part is that the experience and information provided can be customized by the leading company, your business, which helps set the tone for your successes, needs, gaps, revenue, industry and more. And all of this can provide an impromptu pre-briefing of sorts. It’s the pre-game before the big game day.

    This is all a form of customer identity management, which makes interactions and engagement with your audience more personal. This permeates even down to the customers themselves, who can see what meetings, briefings and events they attended, and how they contributed, if at all.

    It’s a simple process, and all the components are streamlined, conventional in a personal profile sense. For example, you have the standard profile image or images, a brief bio or blurb about the person, detailed insights and interactions, and more.

    When a client or potential customer walks right up to you, you will recognize them instantly thanks to the profile data associated with them. This pushes meetings and agendas into the spotlight more, as you never have to walk into a room or venue and learn who is who. You know, simply because you (or someone in your organization) has interacted with them before, in some small way, creating a rich customer insight legacy.

    75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that recognizes them and makes recommendations based on personal history. So, you want them to be more recognizable.

    Not only does this build stronger, more reliable relationships but it also provides a deeper level of context to meeting your customers in-person. Furthermore, you can see how interactions and engagement play out through all the steps across pre, during, and post-meeting touch points.

    A final, more resolute way to look at it is you’re building customer profiles and collective databases for sales enablement. Every team can leverage the insights and data collected on your audience, from marketing and sales to second-level management and board members. This enables a more efficient, more interactive and much more personal community.


    MPI is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide and has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including more than 18,000 engaged members in more than 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries. “When we meet, we change the world.”

  • Healthy Giveaways to Get Your Wellness Program Moving

    Workplace stress has risen 20% over the last 30 years, with nearly 60% of Americans saying that work is a significant source of stress. Discover ways to ease workplace tension by offering wellness programs for your employees with 4imprint.

     Editorial Staff on November 18, 2019

    Originally published by 4imprint on November 04, 2019

    Workplace wellness is on the rise, with 80% of businesses offering programs ranging from health fairs to exercise classes to healthy giveaways. However, while many businesses want to help their employees take better care of themselves, they sometimes struggle with employee participation.

    In this edition of our Blue Papers® we talk about the benefits of a strong wellness program, the barriers to participation, and how to encourage employees to take the first step in getting healthier.

    Benefits of wellness programs

    In many ways, employee wellness programs also make companies healthier. Creating and maintaining strong health and wellness initiatives offers benefits for both your staff and your business.

    It can help employees manage stress

    Workplace stress has risen 20% over the last 30 years, with nearly 60% of Americans saying that work is a significant source of stress. Implementing healthy practices, like mindfulness or yoga, as part of a wellness program can help reduce employee anxiety, depression and stress.

    It improves recruiting and retention

    Wellness programs also offer benefits that can affect your bottom line. About 87% of employees consider health and wellness benefits when deciding whether to take a job. And only 25% of employees at a company with a health and wellness program say they intend to leave their job in the next year—vs. 51% of employees at companies without wellness programs.


    It has a great ROI for employees

    For every dollar you invest in employee wellness, employees recoup between $1.40 and $4.60 in medical costs and productivity losses.


    It has a great ROI for your business

    When your employees use wellness programs to make important lifestyle changes, you’ll recoup more than $350 in productivity for every employee. Employees are also less likely to miss work, more engaged with their workplace, and 67% more satisfied with their jobs than those who work at a company without an employee wellness program.

    Breaking down wellness walls

    Though the benefits of wellness programs are obvious, getting employees to participate in them can be a challenge. Reasons employees say they don’t participate include:

    • Lack of time: 63% of employees say they aren’t willing to devote more than an hour per day to improve their health and well-being.
    • Lack of interest: If employees don’t know that a wellness program exists, they wouldn’t know which parts might interest them. Or if they feel the incentives to participate aren’t worth the time, they may choose to avoid the wellness program altogether.

    Also, if your company doesn’t dedicate resources to provide a variety of wellness initiatives, employees may become bored or may not be interested at all. Forming a walking group during lunch is a no-cost option, but funding speakers or educational materials would take your program to the next level.

    Breaking down the walls to wellness

    With so many potential benefits, helping employees break down (or climb over) their walls to wellness will make your workplace healthier and happier. Here are some ways to help staff walk the wellness path.

    1. Spread awareness

    Only 60% of employees are aware that their company has a wellness program. Simply making everyone aware of the program and the pieces of it that may interest them—whether it’s free flu shots or an indoor walking group—may be all it takes to get them to take their first steps. Consider:

    • Sharing updates, incentives and wellness challenges through a monthly newsletter.
    • Setting up a wellness portal that lets employees track their progress.
    • Bringing in guest speakers to offer wellness tips or explain the benefits of your wellness program.


    GOAL High School in Pueblo, Colorado, goes out of its way to get staff involved in their wellness program—and gives them frequent updates about benefits of the program. “We decided that in order for our students to thrive in their blended online educational environment, we needed to make sure our staff was healthy,” said Enrollment & Wellness Coordinator Shannon Lovato. “We send out information about the health benefits that our insurance provides that they might not be aware of. Things like lunch and learns and other content they can use.”

    2. Implement the program gradually

    Presented with a long checklist of wellness items, some people will become overwhelmed and elect not to do anything at all. Consider ramping up your program over months or years to get all the pieces in place.

    GOAL High School takes a “rounded” approach to wellness, using the 8 dimensions of wellness to create a wellness wheel:

    • Emotional
    • Environmental
    • Financial
    • Intellectual
    • Occupational
    • Physical
    • Social
    • Spiritual

    “You really want to get that wheel to roll,” Lovato said. “What do you do well? Eat well, get to the gym every day? Are you struggling on the financial side?”

    To keep the wheel moving, they focus on a different dimension of wellness each month. “This month, for example, we focused on occupational wellness,” Lovato said. “What is it? What things can you do to increase it? Do you have a tidy desk? Are you really in a job that makes you thrive?”

    To get people thinking about the dimensions, they start the school year off with wellness program giveaways that represent each aspect of wellness. “We gave out portion control containers, financial planning sheets, a massage tool and other items to make sure people are thinking about all kinds of wellness,” Lovato said.

    Approaching the different aspects of wellness this way helps people work on every dimension without having to address all of them at once.

    3. Provide time for wellness

    Because employees frequently struggle to find time to devote to wellness outside of work, consider offering them opportunities to get healthy during their workday:

    • Allow employees time for a 30-minute walk or use your company gym.
    • Provide healthy snacks like fruits and nuts to help them eat better.
    • Turn conference room meetings into walking meetings.
    • Start each day with a five-minute meditation.

    4. Find ways to make wellness more fun

    Getting healthier can feel like a chore. Find ways to encourage competition or just make the process more enjoyable.

    • Get employees together for a weight loss challenge.
    • See who can walk the most steps in a day, week or month.
    • Create a healthy recipe exchange group.
    • Compete to see who can create (and eat) the healthiest lunch.

    Offer small health giveaways as prizes for the winners—or even just for competing.

    ChromaScape in Twinsburg, Ohio, used basketball season to create a “March Wellness” challenge using a Basketball Stress Reliever and a themed wellness contest.

    “All our associates got a ball, and it helped to create buzz around the office,” said Employment and Benefits Manager Amanda Hatfield. “Plus, it was a fun way to reduce stress in meetings. We make a bracket, with the goal to pick one habit and stick to it for five weeks.”

    In the first “bracket” everyone chose an activity, from bringing a healthy lunch from home to exercising for 30 minutes a day. Participants who made it through the challenge were entered into a gift card raffle.

    The reminders, wellness program giveaways and incentives from the challenge led to long-term benefits as well. “We definitely had some success stories,” Hatfield said. “People who lost weight and kept it off, people who continue to lose weight, even people who are still making sure they’re drinking enough water in a day.”

    5. Set personalized attainable goals

    Whether it’s walking three nights a week or quitting smoking, let employees choose which wellness goals they want to work on and then monitor it to help them be more successful.

    6. Choose employee leaders

    Having employees encourage other staff members to get involved in wellness challenges and take part in the program can be a powerful motivator to encourage participation.

    GOAL High School uses MicroSoft Teams® to let staff share their wellness interests. “When you get the staff to invest and get them to lead and get them to run with it, you’re able to get staff more involved,” Lovato said. “We have a channel for all dimensions of wellness. There’s one for crafty people, for example, and if you ‘like’ the channel, you can follow it.”

    7. Incorporate wearables

    Offering employees a step tracker can be a simple and creative method to encourage people to improve their wellness. Even if the healthy giveaway encourages employees to take just a few more steps per day, over time those steps add up.

    “We buy Fitbits® for every staff member who wants one,” Lovato said. “The tagline for GOAL is ‘Change Your World,’ so we have a walking program called ‘Walk Your World’ to see how many steps the staff takes, to see how many times we can walk around the world.”

    8. Spread out incentives over time

    Offering a single incentive for achieving a goal is helpful, but not as helpful as offering a variety of incentives over time. By encouraging employees to keep building a habit, you’ll help them make healthy choices that turn into life changes. A single incentive encourages them to do something for a few weeks in order to win a prize.

    Walking the road to wellness

    Healthy giveaways and employee wellness programs offer major benefits to both employee and company health. Every time you encourage an employee to eat better, take a walk or try meditation, you’re investing in their well-being—and yours.


  • CEIR Predict Recap 2019

    Have you wondered what insights and trends are shared at #CEIRPredict? Read the recap from our CEIR team.

    By Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM

    CEIR Predict Recap 1

    Using Marketing Disruptors to Launch Innovation, supported by Visionary Partner GES, looked at the challenges facing corporate marketers. Moderated by Arjun Chakravarti, SVP, Analytics & Insights, GES and panelist Mike Lakas, Vice President of Information Technology & Operations, American Foundry Society. Insights provided by Dr. Tom Steenburgh, of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business discussed the sales processes for existing products versus new products entering the market, and the changing nature of selling driven by technology. Dr. Steenburgh notes that the selling process is much more difficult today. As an example, automobile sales in the past were controlled by the sales staff. With the Internet, customers are becoming much smarter, especially B2B customers, making them more knowledgeable than maybe even the salesperson responsible for the sales of the product. Buyers have access to information online and are doing their homework before they make the purchase. He asserts the market will reward companies that give power to the buyer. B2B exhibitions have an opportunity to contribute to the two-way conversation, helping exhibitors save money lost to inefficiencies, as it is getting harder to engage face-to-face with prospective buyers. There needs to be the right mix of product experts and smart salespeople at the exhibition. The biggest marketing opportunity today is content marketing; there is a need to generate more of the right content at the right time. Trade shows are an excellent medium for CMO’s to leverage, they struggle with content generation. Trade shows are rich with relevant content that can be curated for this purpose.

    CEIR Predict Recap 2

    A lively conversation on Trade, Technology and Infrastructure Funding was moderated by Voices in Advocacy Roger Rickard with Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR’s VP of Research; John Paxton, COO & CEO Designate, Materials Handling Industry Association (MHI) and Bill Reinsch, Scholl Chair in International Business, Center for Strategic and International Studies. CEIR conducted a survey assessing the impact of trade tariffs on the exhibitions industry. Seventy-five percent of organizers responding to the survey believe trade tariffs are having a negative impact on the industry. Over half, 56% of surveyed executives at organizations that have held shows in 2018 through July 2019, report their events have sustained impacts as a result of these trade tariff policies. Forty-eight percent sustained exhibitor participation impacts and 36% with attendance. Unfortunately, where impacts have occurred, they are predominantly negative. 82% of those reporting exhibitor participation impacts say they have sustained exhibit sales losses and among those encountering attendance impacts, 76% report lower registration. Declines are coming largely from countries where the trade tariff issues are in play as well as domestically, suggesting negative effects due to global supply chain issues. To access trade survey results, go HERE.

    To counter the impact, organizer executives are using aggressive marketing and sales efforts to maximize exhibit sales and attendance, and they are looking to diversify domestically, as well as international attendance in regions not impacted by the tariffs. Bill Reinsch predicted that U.S. – China relations will most likely be strained for another year.

    The supply chain is shortening with companies having closer access to customers. Exhibition organizers need to focus on their technologies strategies and make their show live year-around. The environment around trade is changing rapidly and organizers need to be agile in order to respond to the current world events as the situation demands.

    CEIR Predict Recap 3

    The Show as a Financial Instrument and Source of Funding was a topic moderated by Andy Macey, EVP of Global Strategy Practice at Freeman with panelists Brett Conradt, Managing Director, Stax, Inc.; Simon Kimble, Executive Chairman, Clarion Events Ltd. And Kerry Smith, Divisional President, Marketing & Media Group, Access Intelligence LLC.

    For most associations, the trade show is their greatest financial asset and yet for many association organizers, consideration has not necessarily been given on investments that can grow their shows. In light of shifting trends, events need to continuously evolve. Corporate events, for example, are marketing events. These events invest in high premium experiences whose purpose is to create a funnel of customers. Association organizers might want to look at a corporate event for inspiration and adapt some of the offerings to deliver more impactful, creative experiences.

    If funding is a challenge, associations may not have considered seeking outside funding to take their show to the next level. Panelists noted that equity partners are open to considering minority investments where the association maintains ownership of the brand and the investor works to grow or expand the event globally, as an example.

    For those who might be interested in exploring an outside investor, some insights shared on helping a prospective funder determine if an event is a candidate for funding:

    • Investors are more interested in making minority investments with the association maintaining control.
    • To help decide whether an investment is worthwhile, prospective funders are looking for discussions based on available data to help discern the growth potential for an event, such as: revenue growth over time, return rate on attendees, attrition and the reason(s) why attendees and/or exhibitors do not return, net promotor score, an understanding on the connection of the community to the event.
    • There needs to be good strategic alignment. Interest in outside investment cannot be based on just the money, but rather a good alignment/interest in making the show better.

    CEIR appreciates the support and partnership with Freeman in producing this session.

    CEIR Predict Recap 4

    A Deep Dive Panel Discussion on Macro Factors Impacting the Economy, as well as trade shows was moderated by Vincent Polito of mdg with panelists Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Dennis Slater CEO of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist, Stifel Fixed Income. Ms. Piegza provided an insightful look at what is occurring in the economy and indicators to watch:

    • Economic conditions are moderate in the U.S. with waning momentum
    • Companies are still hiring, although less robust. Specific industries are more robust than others
    • Trade tariffs will disrupt business and will result in direct or indirect consumer price increases
    • There is international uncertainty weighing on markets as yields retreat
    • Policymakers are not reaching any type of consensus on most issues

    Both AEM and NAHB have experienced declining international attendance due to the lack of a trade deal. The construction industry is a leading indicator for the exhibitions industry. NAHB has found that building is booming where it is less regulated; the cost of regulatory compliance is 25 percent higher where it exists. Housing, for instance, is robust in urban markets where government compliance is less regulated. In the agriculture industry, tariffs are putting a burden on machinery, increasing cost by seven percent, resulting in lowered earnings. Farmers are not able to sell crops which is contributing to an economic slowdown.

    Jobs in construction and manufacturing are hard to fill with qualified employees. It was the immigrants that helped build America and immigration needs to be addressed. This combined with young people who have a negative view of these types of jobs has resulted in a labor shortage in these sectors. High school counselors are directing students to four-year colleges rather than technical schools. This, along with losing many people to opioid addiction is contributing to the shortage.

    In summary, the economy is poised to sustain slow, low growth, below one percent. Although Ms. Piegza does not see a 2008-style recession, she compared it to more like a balloon that is slowing losing air with lower positive numbers, lower job growth and lower GDP. The U.S. has the largest potential as a global economy, and if it can get its fiscal policy in line, there could be a higher level of growth.

    CEIR Predict Recap 5

    The Harris Poll’s John Gerzema, who is the CEO of Harris Insights and Analytics provided insights into Trends Shaping Our Future. Mr. Gerzema set the stage for the panel discussion by revealing the Top 25 Trends impacting, or beginning to impact, society today. 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 their customer base.

    In the follow up panel discussion between moderator Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes of mdg, John Gerzema joined Michelle Mason, CAE, FASAE, President & CEO, Association Forum and Don Pazour, CEO of Access Intelligence discussed the trends and their possible impact on the exhibitions. The rich content of this session will be shared in articles delving into the trends and considerations for trade shows.

    Thank You, Partners!

    CEIR Predict Sponsors