Editorial Note: Originally published in the December 2022 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

As this issue of TSE lands in your mailbox, we are putting the finishing touches on Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. In writing this column I realize that I do not have to look too far to see what this year has delivered to our industry, as so much of that is ingrained into Expo! Expo!. And while Expo! Expo! offers a plethora of education that delves into the subject, a few key items stand out in my mind as I reflect upon 2022.

My most satisfying aspect to this year has been watching our industry strengthen as it reclaims its influence in the business macrocosm. Exhibitions are making their comeback worldwide, and my conversations with many of you reflect increased optimism and renewed verve for how we conduct our face-to-face marketplace.

Without a doubt, we are in the midst of a significant push in our evolution with the biggest impulse coming from the experiences we provide at our shows. While the goal of creating a fantastic show experience is not new, there is a shift in the show organizer mindset from a more logistical perspective to one of acting as an agent of engagement. The traditional approaches and measures of success of our shows remain valuable; however, the developing level and scope of responsibilities bring in new attitudes toward marketing functionalities, data analytics, health and safety, sustainability and social awareness/corporate responsibility.

The burgeoning role of the show organizer incorporates a new strategic thought process in the sense that, in the past, we have viewed our events as more of a business endeavor. We are now wholly recognizing the opportunity to influence our culture, brand and community. Our events influence how people think and react, and we are building marketplaces with networks of communities based on that. In essence, show organizers have the ability to shift entire company cultures and brand interaction – that’s a pretty big deal!

With these enhancements, we are also realizing that new KPIs are needed to address exhibitor ROI and humanize data that we apply from our shows to future decisions. We are working more closely with our marketing departments and, in some cases, even taking on more content creation responsibilities to achieve increased stakeholder engagement and effective branding. We are tasked with being more thoughtful in the design and delivery of our overall show experience in addition to shifting the way we have done things for so long in terms of the timing, structure and approaches to our events.

Obviously, this is a work in progress that we are fine tuning. Workforce development remains a challenge; what skills should we be using to motivate our internal teams and address the shifts within our industry’s workforce? As I noted in the September issue, this consideration is high on the list of executive leaders’ priorities. The good news is that there are opportunities for innovation and growth for all. A key tactic is to lead with emotional intelligence by embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, creativity and flexibility.

Another challenge lies in the uncertainty of our future economics and governance. Everyone is looking at business models and pricing structures in the face of inflation, and having to decide what gives back the best value to stakeholders. In addition, this year’s elections will lend to the natural process of adjusting to the outcomes. Finally, health and safety remain top of mind as we are much more aware than we were two years ago about what it takes to provide the safest environment possible at an exhibition.

Overall, I believe 2022 has been a good year and 2023 will be even better. I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

David DuBois, CMP Fellow, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO
Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Co-President

Posted by Editorial Staff

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