Editorial Note: Originally published in the July 2022 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.
This year, we have seen notable trends emerge as the exhibitions and events industry continues to restore itself from the pandemic. These trends are on the radar for IAEE’s Expo! Expo! Education Committee as we prepare for this year’s Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Louisville, KY. This committee is made up of IAEE members who have been intent on asking the right questions and listening carefully to respondents so they may create a timely and relevant learning experience.
I would like to share with you some of what we have learned so far, as this feedback is invaluable to all members of the industry who journey the upward path to our industry’s recovery.
Revamp and Fine-Tune Your Digital Strategy
Trade shows have taken a deep dive into omnichannel marketing and other digital strategies in response to the pandemic and its extensive shift toward digital events. Although the industry is steadily returning to in-person shows, there are definitely “keepers” from this process that show organizers have been incorporating to enhance their in-person events. There is a call for addressing the development, contribution and expansion of information through digital media to not only inform, but to genuinely engage, a show’s target audiences and end-users.
Foster Relationships Throughout Your Communities
For show organizers to create the best experience for their attendees, exhibitors and stakeholders, they first need to fully understand the various communities they are serving. Then they must holistically integrate these understandings to deliver a powerful event whose benefits continue well beyond the show dates. Industry members are interested in learning new approaches and collaborative ways of identifying, developing and growing business partnerships across all of their communities in order to build lasting relationships.
Keep Things Moving in the Right Direction
Understandably, there is an overwhelming desire across the industry to get back to our pre-pandemic performance levels. However, since we are in recovery mode, there is also a strong need for strategic and operational design and delivery tactics that will take trade shows and events to the next level. The feedback we are receiving points toward interest in how to define, brand and grow an event through the discovery of new audience opportunities; the re-engagement of past audiences (for both attendees and exhibitors); and drive attendee acquisition, engagement and loyalty.
You Are Only as Strong as Your Team
Top executives know this all too well. Research has shown that the most productive and motivated workforce is one that feels professionally and personally supported by an organization’s leadership. Professional development is always in high demand from attendees as they seek to expand and strengthen their business knowledge; enhance their personal skills; and consolidate these insights into a positive and constructive work-life balance.
These findings are the tip of the iceberg as IAEE prepares for Expo! Expo!, but I share this information now because it is a reflection of where our industry is at and what is resonating among those of us who are ALL in to getting the industry back to where we know it can be. It is more important than ever for executive leaders to make sure they are asking the right questions and actively listening to the responses so they can apply the information to its greatest advantages and outcomes. And, of course, it is important to share these findings. As I have noted time and time again, our industry derives much of its strength from our incredibly collaborative environment. Join me in this conversation and let’s be ALL in!
David DuBois, CMP-F, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO