Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Most Innovative Use of Technology

The IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s Most Innovative Use of Technology category is an open-ended and broad category. Entries are evaluated on how they used technology to promote, improve and enhance a show. Judging criteria includes: innovation of the technology component used and/or how it is applied; creativity in terms of how the component adds to the overall experience for show participants; and response from show participants to the component.

In today’s IAEE Blog, we highlight the winners of last year’s Most Innovative Use of Technology category:

Under 75,000 nsf
a2z, Inc.
E2E Summit

The purpose of the Executive-to-Executive (E2E) Summit is to bring together the top executives from manufacturers and contractors in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades for focused one-on-one hosted buyer meetings that foster innovation. The appointments last 45 minutes each. Participants are guaranteed up to 15 meetings in a 48-hour period. The E2E Summit® is by invitation only. The event organizers custom approach evolves around participant experience and is specifically tailored to deliver results for them and their organizations.

a2z’s Connect Hosted Buyer Program solution took the guesswork and paperwork out of managing hosted buyer programs. By matching registered buyers with appropriate suppliers using smart, automated matchmaking technology, it helped event participants maximize their ROI by generating high quality appointments based completely on precise demographics data and event-specific business logic.

By leveraging a2z’s Connect platform, E2E Summit event organizers were able to streamline the matching process and create a business version of “eHarmony” (a dating app) for contractors and manufacturers. a2z’s Connect platform for automating hosted buyer program matches and appointment setting at trade shows addressed E2E’s particular requirements. The Connect platform allowed manufacturers to enter descriptions of their companies and products. It enabled contractors to go in and do their own research, select favorites, and complete surveys about their interests and company demographics – all data that was previously gathered manually. Connect then created a suggested appointments schedule for each participant using an intelligent matching algorithm and one click of the button.

Matching companies with buyers – doing research to determine which manufacturer’s products are the best fit for the types of projects in which contractor companies are interested – requires a lot of legwork. It involves phone calls, surveys, the collecting of “wish lists” and keeping files up to date. E2E was performing those tasks and then creating an Excel spreadsheet to serve as the master meeting schedule. The process was time-consuming (three weeks for one person) and sometimes there was overlap (companies scheduled for different meetings in the same time slot).

E2E organizers immediately felt the impact of automating the matchmaking and scheduling process for their 2016 summit. It previously took one person three weeks to prepare the spreadsheet of matches and appointments. Connect could do the same thing in about three minutes!

“When we used a2z Connect to create the first round of meetings, it completed about 70% of the meetings,” noted Kaitlan Klitzke, Project Manager at E2E Summit. “We were then able to spend about three weeks refining everyone’s meeting schedules, which we were never able to do in the past because we never had the time. It was also more accurate because with the spreadsheet we always had some overlap. I really liked the exhibitor capabilities of the Connect platform. They have an online booth where they can add their company description, website, and logo. It helps our contractors do their research. The favoriting feature was big for our company to be able to put that kind of control in the hands of the buyers.”

Between 75,001 and 200,000 nsf
Access Intelligence
EventTech 2015

Seven years ago, the need for a conference and exposition solely focused on how to use technology and social media to amplify events and drive attendance was identified. Cue the creation of EventTech. Since inception, EventTech has gone from being a small boutique event housed in unconventional locations in New York City, to one that draws over 1,300 attendees from around the world to Las Vegas each November. The core concept of EventTech is to present a ‘learning-loop’ educational format.

Attendees can go to a session on a specific technology then step outside the session and actually test drive that exact technology. Exhibits and education live in one space, a 100,000 sq. ft. arena called ‘The Campus.’ There is nothing like this conference anywhere in the world. Going into its sixth year, EventTech had established itself as one of the fastest growing conferences in the industry and the only one of its kind. It had manifested an educational program of over 100 sessions taught by some of the world’s biggest brands and leading technologists. It programmed three powerful pre-conference workshops covering some of the hottest digital trends in the events industry.

The goals for EventTech 2015 were to cancel out campus noise, engage attendees with compelling and relevant content, create a user friendly experience and keep the lines down as well as provide direction without the extravagant costs. Featured technologies used to accomplish this goal included:

  • Drone University – an afternoon workshop on using drones at events and bused attendees to an outdoor park 30 minutes from the Las Vegas strip where drone experts taught them all about drones and how to use drones at events for content capture, livestreaming, attendee engagement, etc.
  • Proximity Audio in Breakouts – EventTech’s 100,000 sq. ft. Campus does come with acoustical challenges, given that all breakout sessions are produced in open air amphitheaters. One of the challenges with placing educational sessions within exhibits naturally, is background noise. To provide attendees with an intimate experience, EventTech integrated a wireless audio proximity system into all breakout audiovisual theaters. It provided hi-tech transmitters and noise cancelling ear phones. Delegates could turn to a specific channel for each session and only hear audio from that session. The bustling hall noise around them gets cancelled out. Problem solved.
  • Self Check-in Kiosks – for the first time, EventTech offered self check-in kiosks as part of registration. Attendees would walk over to a kiosk, search their name, then print their badge and send it to the registration desk printers where an ambassador would hand them their badge and all relevant show information. This trimmed down lines and engaged the attendees showcasing an event technology from the moment they stepped on show site.
  • App – EventTech’s app held all the relevant conference information from education options and locations to sponsor information and contact details. Attendees were able to prepare their schedule before they got onsite with the in-app calendar and meeting planner. They could interact with other attendees through a messaging feature as well as promote themselves and their companies through the content feed. It allowed us to pop messages and reminders through push notifications as well as provide directional information with beacons.
  • Beacons – EventTech’s beacons were programmed and installed throughout the venue to push Bluetooth notifications to attendees who had the app installed on their phones and their Bluetooth function enabled. Once an attendee would get within 20ft of a beacon a message would appear on their phones even if their screen was locked. The messages encouraged them to attend certain sessions or special events in booths nearby.

Over 200,001 nsf
SEMA Show 2015 Custom PlanTour Sponsorship Program

The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to fill over a million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the SEMA Show offers attendees educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, and networking opportunities. The 2015 SEMA Show drew more than 130,000 industry professionals including 60,000 domestic and international buyers and 2,400 exhibiting companies from every segment of the specialty equipment industry.

The SEMA Show has grown and changed during the past few years. Like many event organizers, SEMA was looking for ways to increase revenue without raising rates. They had previously used the Classic version of PlanTour by Freeman to promote sponsorship opportunities. PlanTour is a web-based tool that allows show managers to virtually tour event facilities to assist in planning their shows and events. It is also used to scout a venue for future events, view floor plans and plan potential sponsorship opportunities without an onsite visit. The responsive web design provides consistent user experience when accessed on tablets, PCs and smartphones.

SEMA commissioned a custom version of PlanTour to showcase all sponsorship opportunities at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, they customized the site using the 360 panoramic tours to highlight the newly captured outdoor areas for magnetic signage, along with other sponsorship options to help exhibitors increase visibility at the popular trade show. The SEMA Custom PlanTour Sponsorship Program goals included:

  • Create new sponsorship options for new and returning sponsors and exhibitors;
  • Provide an easy to use tool for sponsors to view, select and envision their investment; and
  • Provide an easy to use tool for SEMA sales reps to coordinate or upsell prospects.

Unique users to the SEMA Custom PlanTour website increased by more than 50% compared to the previous year. This includes notable shifts in how users accessed the site such as a 190% increase via mobile, nearly 60% increase by desktops, and more than 13% on tablets. With ordering and other details easy to access and manage online, nearly all available inventory was sold out.

In addition, SEMA has 10 sales reps responsible for sponsorship and exhibitor relations. Working in a fast-paced high pressure environment, they don’t always have time to coordinate with each other. PlanTour allowed them to see a new or changed order, available inventory, deadlines and more – all in the real time to reduce errors and increase efficiency.

“This was our biggest year selling sponsorships,” said Peter MacGillivray, Vice President of Communications and Events for SEMA. “When you have a show that is wall-to-wall, you can raise more money in two ways. You can raise your prices, or you can sell sponsorships. We don’t want to raise our prices. We want to expand our revenue stream through sponsorships. Being able to have tools that help manage that – and ultimately sell that – has been a big hit for us. And this new technology has helped us blow past our goals.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries! You can also view all of last year’s winners and honorable mentions here.

IAEE Awards Spotlight on Dennis Slater: 2016 Pinnacle Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), embodies the significance of the IAEE Pinnacle Award with more than 30 years of experience in the industry and membership with IAEE. He is well-known as a generous mentor, and in fact many of today’s top industry leaders credit him with greatly impacting their careers and contributing significantly to their professional development.

Dennis has served in various leadership roles and made an indelible mark on IAEE’s success, both domestically and abroad. Dennis continues to regularly share insights and best practices with colleagues as a speaker and panelist at numerous industry events. His service and dedication have earned him vast recognition as a visionary and leader, which garnered him the IAEE Pinnacle Award in 2016.

Here, Dennis shares with IAEE his views on what drew him to a career in the industry, why mentorship is important and where he sees the future of exhibitions and events headed.

PHOTO CAPTION: IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA (left) presents Dennis Slater (right) with the IAEE Pinnacle Award during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, California.

IAEE: During your acceptance speech at Expo! Expo! 2016 you mentioned that like many people, you didn’t know much about the industry when you entered into it 30 years ago. What came as the biggest surprise to you about the exhibitions and events industry?

DENNIS: The biggest surprise for me was the energy and positive “can do” attitude of everyone in the trade show business. Everyone was (and still are today) just so confident in the success of trade shows, their own events and their career paths. I knew right away from my first IAEE event that I wanted to be in the trade show business.

IAEE: Along those same lines, what do you think people entering the industry today should know as they start their career?

DENNIS: People starting their careers in the trade show business today need to know that the opportunities for success and a great career are right before them. You will have to work hard, challenge yourself to be creative and innovative, and really care more than others think is rational. But, if you do that, you will succeed and have an interesting, challenging and rewarding career in a wonderful industry.

IAEE: Your nomination included letters and testimonials from several industry leaders expressing gratitude for the mentorship they received from you as they developed their careers. What compels you to mentor others?

DENNIS: Mentoring others needs to come naturally. You need to recognize that many people helped you along the way to be successful. People gave you opportunities, they took a chance on you, they saw something in you. Your journey to success is made possible by the mentoring of others. So you remember that and do the same for the next set of leaders. You will find that it’s equally rewarding to help guide others to reach their potential.

IAEE: Did you have mentors and, if so, what was the best advice you received?

DENNIS: I had many mentors and at all stages of my career, including today. The best advice I ever received was to do something for a career that you truly are passionate about and enjoy. If you do that, you will be successful. Equally important, was to play well with others. Have empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of others, particularly when managing people or negotiating an agreement.

IAEE: What do you consider the most significant advance in the industry that you have seen over the course of your career?

DENNIS: I’ve been in this business for a long time, so the significant advances are too numerous to mention them all. Today, I would say the use of data to better understand the interests of customers – both exhibitors and attendees – in order to make their experience worthwhile and keeping trade shows relevant.

IAEE: How would you like to see the industry change in the next decade?

DENNIS: I am optimistic about the future of trade shows. There will always be a place in business to meet face-to-face to do business. In the next decade, I would like to see the trade show industry focus on the ROI for their customers. Let’s make it easier to attend our events. Let’s bring more activities and value to our events. If we focus on doing that instead of the bottom line, the customers will come, and the bottom line will be there.

IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Pinnacle Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!

Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Attendance Promotion Brochure

The IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s Attendance Promotion Brochure category evaluates a single brochure (printed or digital) used to promote attendance at a show. Judging criteria includes overall presentation, visual appeal and creativity; organization of the information presented (ease to follow/find information); clarity of information, overall message and content usefulness; how the presentation relates to the overall “theme” of the event; and how well the piece met its intended goals.

In today’s IAEE Blog, we highlight the winners of last year’s Attendance Promotion Brochure category:

Under 75,000 nsf
CSG Creative
AAJ Winter Convention

The AAJ Winter Convention is the American Association for Justice’s annual event that features four days of learning and networking for the nation’s most accomplished trial lawyers and experts. The latest developments in trial advocacy and many specialized topics are covered in a variety of cutting-edge CLE programs designed to help attorneys better represent their clients. The convention attracts more than 1,400 attendees and 70 legal service exhibitors.

CSG Creative’s goal for the brochure was to drive awareness and registrations for the AAJ Winter Convention. The convention is not only a draw for attorneys, but also as a winter getaway for families. As such, one of the marketing objectives each year is to make sure that the brochure appeals to both audiences.

“This bold and engaging design reflected the sophistication of the venue as well as the target audience,” said Megan Hall, Vice President, Creative. “Its clean look, white space and strong typography was a winning combination and highly effective in achieving the client’s objectives.”

Between 75,001 and 200,000 nsf
CSG Creative
DEMA Show 2015

The DEMA Show is held annually by the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association. The largest trade-only event in the world for companies doing business in the scuba diving, ocean water sports and adventure/dive travel industries, it attracts hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of dive and travel industry professionals from around the world. In addition to providing an arena in which to conduct business and network, DEMA Show offers participants the most extensive education curriculum in the industry including DEMA-sponsored seminars and exhibitor-sponsored seminars from participating manufacturers, travel destinations and dive certification organizations.

DEMA Show has been dedicated to providing an engaging environment, modeling and fostering an inclusive culture, and providing relevant professional development to further innovation within the diving industry. Those objectives, tied with last year’s campaign, “Expand Your World,” allowed CSG Creative to create a cohesive campaign that shows attendees that this is more than a show – it’s career changing, it’s business-changing and it changes the way they see opportunity. The primary goal of this piece was to drive that concept home. As the piece is unfolded, the story also unfolds with it – laying out the narrative for the attendee that this is a “cannot miss” event.

“DEMA Show’s diverse audience is comprised of small dive shop owners as well as sophisticated tour operators,” noted Megan Hall, Vice President, Creative. “The breadth of exhibitors and attendees that come to DEMA Show each year have the chance to expose themselves to business-building retail concepts as well as partnerships with destinations and travel specialists. The infographics in this piece, along with the strong messaging, truly communicate the powerful business opportunity uniquely available at DEMA Show.”

Over 200,001 nsf
Tarsus Group
Labelexpo Europe 2015

Founded in 1980, Labelexpo Europe is a mature show in a mature market. Held biennially in Brussels, it is the largest event for the label and package printing industry. With a global audience, its exhibitors are machinery/material suppliers and visitors printers who produce labels and packaging for the food, drink and pharmaceutical markets. The show is unusual with its large scale, complex and technical exhibits of live working print machinery.

Tarsus Group set the following key objectives for this campaign: increase visitor numbers; promote creative printing technologies; and expand the show by targeting other groups (e.g. flexible packaging). In order to meet them, Tarsus Group threw the conventional rule book out the window by putting a spin on the freedom innovation can allow. The chosen theme broke new ground and subverted the fairy tale genre by showing how technology can solve any problem in the business world. By adopting the strapline – ‘Technology saves the day! The End.’ –  Tarsus Group dared its audience to start the next chapter in their business and find the solutions to take them to new heights. The results could only be limited by their imagination.

“This theme challenged and pushed the Labelexpo marketing team like never before,” said Michael Hatton, Director of Marketing at Labelexpo. “Taking a potentially ‘off the wall’ and risky creative approach meant the campaign had to really work on multiple levels, be ultra well-honed and strategically viable. To deliver this the various departments such as marketing, design, data and our print suppliers worked essentially as one to ensure the campaign would work as effectively and as efficiently as possible.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries! You can also view all of last year’s winners and honorable mentions here.

Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Ontario Hospital Association

2016 Best of Show Winner for HealthAchieve

Each year, an overall “Best of Show” winner is selected from the winners of the IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s 15 categories. Last year, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) took this honor with its entry in the Social Media Campaign: Under 75,000 nsf category for its HealthAchieve conference and exhibition held on 2-4 November 2015.

The signature conference and exhibition of the Ontario Hospital Association for over 90 years, HealthAchieve is an award-winning event that has long been one of the largest and most respected health care events in North America – the preeminent gathering place for health care and business leaders. HealthAchieve continues to inspire ideas and innovation by providing global health care and business leaders with an unparalleled opportunity to learn from each other, share their ideas and evolve their perspectives.

The event targets two distinct audiences: prospective attendees and potential exhibitors. The prospective attendees are made up of international health care and business leaders. The potential exhibitors are made up of medical suppliers and commercial vendors from across the globe. HealthAchieve provides the platform for unlimited networking opportunities between the two distinct audiences, and would not be the distinguished event that it is without ample participation from both.

Here, OHA shares with IAEE some of the marketing strategies it employed in its award-winning social media campaign.

“We continually strive to enhance both the HealthAchieve online and on-site experiences” said Craig Swatuk, Director, Brand Strategy and Marketing, Ontario Hospital Association. “And social media plays a key role in our ability to add more value for delegates, exhibitors and sponsors.”

Set Clear Goals and Objectives

The goal of HealthAchieve’s social media campaign was to increase awareness and registrations pre-event; to encourage dialogue and online interaction during the event; and to keep the inspiration and momentum going post-event. The objective was to deploy various tactics targeting the event’s two target audiences: prospective attendees and potential exhibitors.

Variety is Key

Keeping with HealthAchieve’s theme of inspiring ideas and innovation, OHA maximized social media with diverse offerings across various channels:

  • Delegates were encouraged to share their key takeaways for a chance to win “most notable tweet” contests from different sessions.

  • A content calendar was developed to share inspirational snippets of event information.
  • An online scavenger hunt game for a chance to win encouraged exhibit floor traffic.
  • A ‘best photo of the day’ contest was promoted on Instagram.

  • A social media destination on the exhibit floor was developed that featured a live social media wall for attendees to see their posts on the screen; a photo booth for attendees to instantly upload fun event photos to their social media channels to see live on the screen; and a lounge area with charging stations for mobile devices.

Be Sure to Track Results

The results were quite remarkable:

  • On Twitter, OHA saw a 39% increase in followers.
  • Facebook likes increased by 5%; and Instagram followers increased by 111% from the previous year.
  • The #HealthAchieve hashtag received over 11.2 million impressions – which was a 70% increase from the previous year – and it achieved its first-ever 1st place trending hashtag ranking in Canada on the Monday of the event, and moved between 3rd and 4th place rankings on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re very proud of these results and it’s an honor to be recognized by IAEE,” said Mr. Swatuk. “HealthAchieve’s digital engagement has realized terrific growth over the past few years, and we recognize the need to continually evolve our social media practices.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries!

The Importance of Industry Recognition

Originally published in Trade Show Executive, June 2016 Edition

The exhibitions and events industry is fortunate to have incredibly talented professionals. I have said this many times and will continue to repeat it because I am extremely proud of the dedication and commitment that I see from colleagues all across the globe to promoting and lifting our industry. There is a very clear understanding among us that we cannot be successful without each other’s support. And while I consider this industry to be one of the most collaborative business environments that exists, I believe it is important to recognize the people who truly go above and beyond the call of duty, and who stand out in this very hardworking group of individuals.

Industry recognition is an integral part of our growth and continued development. By acknowledging the outstanding accomplishments of our fellow colleagues, we elevate the standard by which we do business in general. Industry recognition provides a constant self-reflection and self-evaluation process that keeps us on our toes, and in perpetual forward motion. The majority benefits from those particularly driven individuals who push for the innovative approaches, who break through barriers and pave the path for the rest of us, who pass the torch of their knowledge through mentorship, and who share their gift through volunteerism. This is no easy undertaking, which is why it behooves us to applaud their extraordinary efforts.

Ever thought about becoming a mentor or mentee? Sign up for IAEE’s Mentor Match Program

IAEE has been a strong proponent of industry recognition for nearly four decades. Its awards program celebrates the accomplishments of industry members at various stages of their career and across many platforms of achievement.  For example, our longest-standing award – the Pinnacle Award – recognizes an entire individual career’s body of work typically spanning decades. This award praises those who have dedicated a lifetime to the industry, its recipients having made an indelible mark that often serves as the foundation upon which we continue to grow the industry.

Considerable thought is put into keeping the award categories relevant and timely, and new categories are periodically added. A few years ago, we added the International Excellence Award to address the global presence and initiatives that we are integrating into all that we do. We also added the Woman of Achievement Award as part of our commitment to recognizing the very important role the women of our industry play as well as their remarkable contributions. And, of course, all industries are aware of the impact that the millennials are having on the business world. The Young Professional of the Year Award embraces the refreshing energy the younger generation is infusing into exhibitions and events. We have watched past recipients of this award continue to impress with their contributions – it’s exciting to know the future of our industry is in such capable hands!

IAEE is devoted to making sure we give credit where credit is due because solidarity is one of our industry’s strongest attributes. This is a business where strong relationships are forged and colleagues become true friends. As someone who is approaching his fourth decade in this industry, I am eternally grateful for the fact that many of my closest friends started off as associates.

We are nearing the halfway mark for 2016, and I am positive you have sent your fair share of emails to the effect of “thank you for all you do” and “what would I do without you?” – I know I certainly have. I invite you to take it a step further and translate your gratitude into a nomination for the IAEE individual awards program – it’s easy! Visit and make your contribution to this year’s industry recognition.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO


IAEE Awards Spotlight on Janet Sperstad, CMP: 2015 Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Janet Sperstad, CMP, Program Director at Madison College has extensive practical and academic experience in the exhibitions and events industry. She created the United States’ first Associate Degree in Meeting and Event Management at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin and was instrumental in the development of a graduate program in meeting management through the Copenhagen Business School. Additionally, Janet has worked extensively with Canadian government and international cohorts to develop job standards and certification frameworks that have advanced the profession of global meeting and event management.

She represented the events and exhibition profession to the U.S. Department of Labor, resulting in the establishment of the industry as its own business sector. This volunteer work produced the Hospitality, Tourism, and Events Industry Model, an occupational standard identifying key competencies for those working in meetings, events and exhibitions. Notably, her college was selected as an “Industry Champion” for this model due to contribution and forward-thinking actions. She currently chairs the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Governance Commission and serves as Immediate Past Chairperson of the IAEE Faculty Task Force. She also co-authored IAEE’s Art of the Show Instructor’s Resource Guide, and serves on the Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. She has been a valued member of IAEE, MPI, and PCMA for many years.

Janet’s commitment to the industry earned her the Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership Award in 2015, which recognizes an individual(s) who has made an extraordinary personal or professional commitment that materially contributes to the advancement of the exhibitions and events industry. This recognition demonstrates how voluntary leadership can enhance or change the industry.

You created the first U.S. Associate Degree in Meeting and Event Management. What are your thoughts on how the industry has developed academically, and is there anything you would like to change or see develop further?

It’s great to see more and more meeting and event management degrees offered. This means that academic institutions not only see the business opportunity in offering them but that our field is a viable, career sustaining field. Academia is not as nimble as people would like, and yet when it moves it does not go back. Investing in the infrastructure to develop degrees is very costly. It is more than promotion and offering courses.

For the future, my hope is that degrees are offered in the School of Business and align to marketing, business, project management and leadership. Many of our degrees are currently entwined with hospitality, and having it connected at this point shifts the lens to a commodity-based product rather than a business-result product. Events are not produced to bring business to hospitality companies; they are produced to create business for the hosting company. Viewing events through the School of Business lens shifts the core competencies of curriculum, student demographics and career pathing.

You have passionately advocated for recognition of the industry as its own sector by the U.S. Department of Labor. What inspired you to pursue this endeavor and how will this recognition benefit members of the industry?

The truth – exhaustion, frustration and IAEE Vice President of Learning Experiences Marsha Flanagan, M. Ed. As a veteran in our industry I am exhausted explaining just what event professionals do. All of my career – from Seminar Coordination to Director of Education to Program Director for our Degree – I get, and I’m sure many of you have also, the crazy look on people’s faces when you say you are in the event management field. If not insult to injury is enough, they ask, “that’s a job?” If I was Lewis Black, I would answer with a few precious words that I would not be able to write here. As we know, event and exhibition management is not only a job but a career with sustainable, living wages. Back in the early 2000s I was working with Marsha on a project called “Career Pathway” that benchmarked event management competencies, skills and titles. Before the completion of the project, the plug got pulled and it went silent.

Zoom to 2014 and I got a call from the U.S. Department of Labor to help out on the Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management Workplace Competency Model. After jumping for joy and saying yes, I called Marsha and we set once again our goal to define the competencies of event and exhibition management, and set our industry apart as its own sector – and we did. Having the event management field called out as its own sector with defined competencies gives backbone to our profession. HR professionals, governments and organizations use the U.S. Department of Labor model to identify professionals and the work they do. This benchmarking lays the foundation for professionals to be categorized correctly in their companies, promotions, job classifications and – while it may sound silly – not have to scan industry trade magazines to help HR write their own job description and benchmark what they do.

Where do you think the evolution of the industry will take it next? If you had complete control over the “next big thing” in the industry, how would you shape it?

Complete control?! Not sure I want that but if I had a magic wand, I would put more of the people who are doing the work of event management in CEO and senior leadership positions. Our industry is built on the backs of many, many women who have been doing amazing work as business owners, event and exhibitions owners, and event and exhibition professionals and that voice is very small in leadership for our industry. Bringing in the female voice and perspective will allow young women to see what is possible and change the life of the next generation of female event professionals.

You recently completed your Executive Masters in Neuroleadership. How do you plan on applying neuroscience to your work in the industry? Do you have any tips to offer members of the industry interested in using neuroscience in their exhibitions and events?

Neuroscience is a field that has so many applications; I’m seeing it applied to marketing, politics and economics, to name a few. Here’s the deal: everyone walks into a meeting with a brain, right? That brain that is brought in is a social brain. It responds to stimuli in context of social settings. Data is just that – data of history, what’s happened. To project into the future takes more cognitive areas than just using (our brain’s) data center. Data either confirms or rejects our hunches and ideas. Our emotions, and biases, influence our decisions more than data. We look for data to confirm those ideas. I believe what this means for live events and exhibitions, is that we have the most potent tool available to influence and shape people’s decision making and beliefs. No other medium has the power to persuade like live events – because of our brain. Our brain can compute information faster than any computer. Bringing people together is a powerful moment to shape the future, drive innovation and create solutions to big problems.

You have been widely recognized throughout the industry as an innovator, leader and undeniable champion for exhibitions, events and meetings. Where will your next adventure take you?

My next adventure? I’m not sure; but what I am sure about is that I will keep doing what I’ve always done – challenge myself and our industry to define event management as a design discipline requiring skills in the social sciences, executive leadership, and cognitive sciences. I know that the professionals within our field have the power to unleash human capacity to contribute to a better tomorrow.

The 2016 Call for Nominations for the IAEE Awards is now open! Visit for more information about the various award categories and their corresponding criteria as well as submit your nominations for deserving colleagues whose outstanding efforts merit recognition.

IAEE Awards Spotlight on Dan Traver, CEM: 2015 Merit Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

When Dan Traver, CEM, Business Development Vice President at Freeman, became Chairperson of the IAEE Midwest Chapter, he infused a shift in mentality that made the Board more willing to take chances, invest in new ways to approach programming and, in a lot of other very subtle ways, brought the Board together to meet and exceed goals. His gentle demeanor, sense of humor and intelligence enabled him to change mindsets and get some buy-in on ideas that had never been tried. Dan’s leadership earned him the IAEE Merit Award, which recognizes individuals whose ideas and/or work have benefited IAEE as an organization in some special way, and is generally reserved for those who have stepped forward at the chapter and/or local level. Here, Dan discusses the benefits of chapter involvement and building strong relationships within the exhibitions and events industry.

View the IAEE Chapter Map

You have been credited for being an “outside the box” thinker during your term as Chairperson of the IAEE Midwestern Chapter. What were some of the new initiatives you pursued during your term and what inspired them?

It was my passion to get the Young Professionals program started in our chapter. Freeman sponsored YPs at several chapter programs and events. I reorganized the thought process of leadership in the chapter. The Executive Committee was more unified in making decisions and being responsible for their roles. I allocated funds to paid speakers, instead of relying on free and local people for our educational sessions.

Your chapter colleagues praised your ability to convince others to move outside of their comfort zone. How do you approach presenting new ideas that you know may need some convincing?

  1. More of a focus on the committee members, and making each of them accountable for what they signed up for.
  2. Keeping our meetings focused and not allowing us to drift off in a direction that wouldn’t benefit the chapter.
  3. Promoted active involvement in the charity events and led participation. Lead by example.

As someone who is very involved with your local chapter, how do you balance your extracurricular commitments with your regular schedule? What would you say to someone who wants to be involved in their local chapter but may be concerned that they don’t have the time?

This can be a challenge based on the industry we live in. However, you must put the events on your calendar well in advance and try and block those dates off.  Local chapter participation is as important as anything we do with our career. The industry in this region needs to continue and get closer and with a must-attend attitude will increase the local involvement and help continue to grow this great chapter.

View the IAEE Chapter Calendar of Events

What have you found most beneficial from your chapter involvement and how has it enhanced your overall experience in IAEE and/or the industry as a whole?

Relationships. This business is all about face-to-face and IAEE gives us the platform to interact with people from all sectors of the industry.

You have been an IAEE member for nearly 10 years. What advice would you give a new member for making the most of their IAEE experience?

Try and attend as many meetings as possible. Apply to be on a committee. Be a face and not just a name.

The 2016 Call for Nominations for the IAEE Awards is now open! Visit for more information about the various award categories and their corresponding criteria as well as submit your nominations for deserving colleagues whose outstanding efforts merit recognition.

What Makes a Good Entry – Art of the Show Insider Tip #7


IAEE’s Art of the Show Competition celebrates outstanding promotion of exhibitions and events in 15 categories, including Signage/Decoration and Sponsorship Development Program. These elements comprise a well-rounded marketing plan, but what makes them so effective? IAEE asked its competition judges this question and offers these pointers:

The general look and/or feel of an entire event, exhibit hall or booth. A photograph, montage, portfolio or drawing of creative use of space at an exhibition. Judges take into consideration creativity, design, layout of space, attendee attractiveness and overall presentation.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Think BIG. You have your universal design principles (ie., no more than 2 fonts) and then you have your design principles for signage. Keep in mind the distances from which your signage will be viewed and design accordingly.
  • Images must be high resolution. You cannot make a respectable sign using a 10kb image file downloaded from your website – you need a high resolution, preferably vector, file. There is no such thing as “up res”-ing a low resolution image. Please don’t ask your graphic designer to try. Not. Possible. (Not yet, anyway).
  • Milk your brand. This is the time to incorporate your event’s brand/theme, whether it be through the color scheme, the tagline, the imagery or all of the above. Signage should incorporate the branding gracefully, but there should be no doubt about whose sign it is!

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Sponsorship Development Program
A visual of a sponsorship development/management program and the effect that it had on an event. Measurements must be provided as well. Judges take into consideration overall development and outcome measurement.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • What’s in it for you? Be clear about your goals and strategies for the program, and define how the sponsorship meets those needs.
  • What’s in it for them? In order for a sponsor to be interested in the program, you must show them the value proposition you bring into the agreement.
  • Show me the money! Track your results. A full report will not only show the success of the program, but will give you something to build on as you develop future opportunities.

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Do you have great marketing collateral the world should see? Show off your Art of the Show by entering IAEE’s Art of the Show Competition! Click here to get started. See last year’s winners here.

Oh no, I missed Tips #1-6! No worries, click here.

What Makes a Good Entry – Art of the Show Insider Tip #5

IAEE’s Art of the Show Competition celebrates outstanding promotion of exhibitions and events in 15 categories, including Print Advertising and Show Daily. These elements comprise a well-rounded marketing plan, but what makes them so effective? IAEE asked its competition judges this question and offers these pointers:

Print Advertising
An advertisement used by an organization to promote an exhibition to either exhibitors or attendees. Must have appeared in a publication. Brochures are not included in this category. Judges take into consideration creativity, clarity of message, graphic design, layout and copy.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Connect with your audience. If the reader cannot relate to the imagery and/or headline in the ad, they won’t move on to the copy. It goes beyond show branding; advertising offers a unique opportunity to draw in potential exhibitors/attendees.
  • Does it make sense? The competition to grab a reader’s attention is fierce, and no one is saying that originality and creativity should be set aside. However, you want to make sure that the message – your very clear and concise message – doesn’t get lost in the POW! WHAM! ZAP! action of advertising.
  • Include a call to action. Ever see a cool ad but can’t remember what the actual product or service was? Don’t be that ad.

2014 Print Advertising Winners

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Show Daily
Any publication updating attendees about the event, and distributed on show site each day of the event. Judges take into consideration graphic design, layout, copy and whether or not the publications contribute to an overall exhibition experience.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Balance, grasshopper. It’s so basic yet so easy to miss the mark when it comes to layout, but the rule never changes: the right amount of text versus imagery will engage and inform the reader so that your show daily becomes just that – a vital part of the attendee’s daily routine at the event.
  • Form a bond with the reader. Regardless of whether the publication focuses strictly on the show or incorporates the show into a broader format, helpful information such as a schedule-at-a-glance of that day’s top events or reminders of must-see activities/displays gives readers that warm fuzzy feeling that you are experiencing the event with
  • People love seeing themselves! Including photos of attendees enjoying the previous day’s activities is a great way to enhance the overall exhibition experience and, once again, connect with readers at the event.

2014 Show Daily Winners

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Do you have great marketing collateral the world should see? Show off your Art of the Show by entering IAEE’s Art of the Show Competition! Click here to get started. See last year’s winners here.

Stay tuned for Insider Tip #6: Show Photography and Show Promotion –Website

 Oh no, I missed Tips #1-4! No worries, click here.

The Importance of Industry Recognition

Originally published in Trade Show Executive, June 2015 Issue

Like most of us in this industry, I travel – a lot. And I talk to a lot of people. In order to promote the importance and growth of our industry, it is imperative that I hear what my colleagues have to say, and hear it often.

One of the best benefits of being out in the front lines is the opportunity to hear firsthand reports about how exhibitions and events are thriving from the people who are making it happen. Sometimes these reports come from industry veterans and good friends that I have had the privilege of working with for over four decades. I also get to hear from newcomers to the industry, full of great ideas that infuse fresh energy and enthusiasm to the greater cause.

Whether I am talking to today’s or tomorrow’s industry leaders, I can’t help but notice that this industry attracts overachievers. It is a point of pride among us – that we are a hard working and dedicated group. This brings to mind the importance of taking the time to stop and recognize the outstanding work we are constantly surrounded by. So, why is this so significant?

Recognition motivates people to give back to their community. When I think of one our industry greats, Bob Dallmeyer, the first word that comes to mind is “mentor.” Bob’s invaluable experience lives on through so many of us who had the pleasure of absorbing the wealth of information he so generously shared. Bob was a recipient of many IAEE awards, and today we have the IAEE Bob Dallmeyer Education Fund and Educator of the Year Award, which was named in his honor.

Bob was just one of many treasures we have within the industry. Of course, these leaders do not do it for the awards; they do it for the love of the industry. But by recognizing the outstanding contributions that so many of our colleagues make, we extend an invitation to share knowledge and thereby elevate us all to a higher level of success.

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Acknowledgement is always appreciated. This industry is full of movers and shakers, we are a fast-paced crowd! Which is why IAEE’s individual awards program is held every year and covers the gamut of levels of experience and job functions. This year’s Rookie or Young Professional of the Year may very well receive the IAEE Pinnacle Award in 20 years. Why wait to give recognition where recognition is due?

That dedicated chapter member that you know you can always count on… the educator who helped you earn your CEM badge of honor… the industry leader who consistently inspires you… the devoted committee volunteer… the business solution that blew your mind! There is an IAEE award category for them all.

Appreciation promotes networking and unity. This may sound funny for an industry that seems to do nothing but “network,” however connecting with our peers is at the heart of networking. And nothing connects us more than peer-to-peer appreciation of great work by those who go above and beyond the call of duty. This is no small feat; these accolades solidify our singular networks, broaden our scope as an industry and strengthen our voice among the global business marketplace. It is an ongoing process that must be nurtured from within and industry recognition feeds this process.

We are part of a vibrant industry comprised of accomplished members committed to excellence, a quality I am proud to say I see in abundance as I travel and engage with my colleagues. I encourage you to take a moment and recognize one or more of your colleagues this year by nominating him or her for an IAEE award at

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO