Quality Leads Trump Increasing Costs For Exhibitors in 2024

April 18, 2024

While 61% of exhibitors claimed unpredictable costs have a major influence on their decision to attend an event, 93% believe the quality of expected attendees is the most impactful outcome, even when compared to external constraints, according to “Event Excellence by Design,” a new report that takes an inside look at exhibitor objectives and provides show organizers with insightful data to help them design more impactful event experiences.

Lead quality remains the No. 1 measure of success, even more than last year. When exhibitors were asked how they measure the value their organization receives from exhibiting and sponsoring, 67% said quality of leads in 2024, compared with 63% in 2023. Other measures of success include: actual sales (51%), number of leads (50%), potential sales (42%), number of meetings/business connections (32%) and traffic to exhibit as a result of sponsorship (10%)

Created by global events company Freeman, the report follows on the heels of its 2024 Attendee Trends Report, released in January, which proposed a new way for organizers to think about event excellence.


Backstory: Comprising a wide swath of B2B exhibitors and sponsors who also exhibit, the report’s data stems from a survey conducted in February that garnered responses from 1,911 industry professionals.

Why it matters: From understanding exhibitor concerns to uncovering where exhibitors and attendees do or don’t align, the data helps pave a path for organizers to produce events that are more meaningful for everyone despite differences in age, event type and objective, according to Freeman officials.

Freeman's Ken Holsinger

What they are saying: “Successful events don’t happen by accident, and it’s important to understand the objectives of all parties involved including exhibitors, attendees and sponsors,” said Ken Holsinger, senior vice president of strategy at Freeman. “For event organizers, this understanding of their customers and ongoing shifts in trends and demographics is all critical in delivering value to the overall experience.”

We did a deeper dive into the data to put together this curated list of highlights from the research:

Exhibitor participation is holding steady: After a successful 2023, most exhibitor budgets will increase or stay the same in 2024. According to the report, 79% of exhibitors plan to attend the same number of events or more in the next year, and 75% do not plan on cutting back their exhibiting budgets.


 Lead generation reigns supreme: The most important components of the overall event experience for exhibitors are:

         ◦       35% lead generation

         ◦       25% brand impact/awareness

         ◦       24% sales

         ◦       17% lead nurturing

Exhibitor demographics and event types are shifting: 46% of exhibit marketers are now female (5% more than last year), and their average age has decreased from 51 to 47. 72% are exhibiting at various types of events beyond just trade shows.

Source: Spring 2024 Freeman Syndicated Survey of Event Exhibitors/Sponsors

More exhibitors are considering independent events: Despite promising exhibitor event plans and budgets, gaps in expectation and satisfaction with third-party events remain. Those exhibitors who can afford to are planning or executing their own independent events to realize more value.

Exhibitors want more out of lead generation and networking: Meeting with customers/prospects and acquiring leads are top objectives, however, exhibitors are increasingly unsatisfied with the leads they receive.

Exhibitors want predictable, all-inclusive packages: 64% of exhibitors agree that turnkey, all-inclusive exhibit packages are the most important type of assistance from event organizers. However, “all-inclusive” can look different for small and large exhibitors.

Big picture: The report also details the growing gaps between attendee and exhibitor expectations, exhibitor behaviors and attendee needs and large and small exhibitors, and provides valuable action steps for organizers to bridge those gaps and deliver greater value across the events ecosystem.

Download the Freeman 2024 Exhibitor Trends Report – Event Excellence by Design here.

March Trade Shows Tout Promising Growth, Robust Participation

April 17, 2024

Three major U.S. trade shows reported successful – and in two cases, growing – editions in Las Vegas, Orlando and Philadelphia last month. Take a look at our roundup of major U.S. trade shows held in March.


The NGA Show

Who, When & Where: The NGA Show, March 10-12, Caesars Forum Convention Center 

Key metrics: 3,600 grocery retail industry professionals (a new attendance record), 350+ exhibitors and sponsors, spanning 55,725 square feet.

Looking Back: The exhibit hall grew substantially from the prior year, which saw 290 exhibiting companies and more than 45,000 sq. ft.

Best new features and products: The sold-out exhibit hall showcased products and services from store design to innovative food products – with support from several large food wholesalers and distributors. The VIP Experience meeting program enabled retailers, wholesalers and service providers to schedule meetings both in-booth and in provided networking zones. Nearly 50 education sessions took place throughout the event on topics including BIPOC independent grocers, labor issues, food as medicine, connecting with Gen Z, role of AI in marketing and more.

The NGA Show was held March 10-12 in Las Vegas.

Beyond the show floor: The event kicked off with the popular Technology Summit and Financial Symposium led by industry experts as well as a session honoring NGA’s Creative Choice Awards for excellence in marketing and merchandising. Delivering an enthusiastic kickoff to the show, celebrity chef Carla Hall, entrepreneur, author and Food Network star presented the opening keynote address.

What they are saying: “The NGA Show is truly the place where grocers gather – and gather they did, in record numbers,” said Jaime Reesby, vice president for generation and grocery at Clarion Events. “Working closely with NGA and its members, we continue to enhance our offerings, from education to networking, to help grocers navigate today’s competitive environment. Initial responses have been glowing and we look forward to continuing to meet and exceed those expectations.”

Looking ahead: NGA Show 2025 will return Feb. 23-25  to CAESARS Forum.



The 2024 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition was held March 11-15 in Orlando, Fla.

Who, When & Where: 2024 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, March 11-15, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla. 

Key metrics: The event attracted 26,800 healthcare technology professionals and 971 exhibitors across 440,066 sq. ft.

Looking Back: In 2023, HIMSS drew in 33,329 attendees and 1,103 exhibitors spanning 449,050 sq. ft. 

Best new features and products: Alongside cybersecurity, robotics, interoperability, policy and many more global health topics shaping healthcare, generative AI solutions took center stage at HIMSS23, with multiple technology companies debuting AI-backed software aimed at creating better workflows and experiences in a clinical environment. A Global Policy Leaders’ Summit and panels featured government agencies, global Ministers of Health and other leading policymakers discussing AI in healthcare and the challenges of balancing cybersecurity and patient privacy issues while also improving digital health information exchange.  

Beyond the show floor: This year’s conference marked a watershed moment for HIMSS, with the passing of the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition stewardship to Informa Markets, and for the first time this year, the conference featured a hosted buyer program for providers.

What they are saying: “We are delighted by the continued growth and influence of the HIMSS Global Health Conference and our successful partnership with Informa to improve and expand the event,” said Hal Wolf, HIMSS president and CEO. “HIMSS24 brought together all aspects of the healthcare world, including C-Suite executives, healthcare IT developers, nurses, researchers, government officials and many more to harness a new era of information and technology and to shape the future of health together.” 

Looking ahead: HIMSS24 European Health Conference & Exhibition is slated for May 29-31 in Rome, Italy, and HIMSS25 will take place March 3-6 at The Venetian Resort & Expo, CAESARS Forum and Wynn Las Vegas.



pack expo
PACK EXPO East was held March 18-20 in Philadelphia.

Who, When & Where: PACK EXPO East, March 18-20, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia.

Key metrics: As its largest show to date, PACK EXPO attracted 7,977 attendees and 503 exhibitors across 119,085 sq. ft.

Looking Back: In 2022, the event drew in 6,615 attendees and 403 exhibitors spanning 94,510 sq. ft.

Best new features and products: As the premiere regional show for consumer packaging and processing companies, PACK EXPO East’s show floor showcased the latest innovations and solutions, including machinery and equipment, used by markets including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, industrial and agricultural chemical, personal care and cosmetics.

Beyond the show floor: In addition to the technology on the show floor, PACK EXPO East offered educational opportunities with the Innovation Stage and Industry Speaks. Attendees also had the chance to connect with their peers at the Taste of Philly opening reception and the Packaging & Processing Women’s Leadership Network and Young Professionals Network receptions.

What they are saying: “PACK EXPO East’s continued growth has solidified its place as a vital event for packaging and processing professionals in the region,” said Jim Pittas, president and CEO of PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, which owns and produces the show. “While we celebrate this growth, our focus remains on delivering the high-quality experience our shows are known for. This includes offering solutions for more than 40 markets and tailoring experiences to meet the needs of the industry.”

Looking ahead: PACK EXPO International 2024 will take place Nov. 3-6 at McCormick Place in Chicago, while PACK EXPO East will return to the Pennsylvania Convention Center Feb. 17-19, 2026.


Tech News: How Pixperience Takes Event Photo Booths to the Next Level

April 15, 2024

Looking to create high-end, red carpet-worthy videos that event attendees will share?

Companies like Pixperience provide interactive photo booths like no other — using the latest camera technology to capture the moment in vivid detail and engagement with an immersive experience that your brand creates.

Every event attendee can be a glamorous star when they step into a space that seamlessly blends creativity and technology to create unforgettable experiences that attendees can share instantly on social channels. 

We tested two Pixperience products at EXHIBITORLIVE 2024 and interviewed Pixperience Vice President, Operations Derek Wuenschirs to find out how this product works at trade shows. Here’s what we learned.


Why it matters: In a bustling exhibition hall amid the buzz of attendees and exhibitors, the 20x10 Pixperience footprint featured two photo options: one using the Pixbot robot arm to capture videos and one offering the 180-degree photo booth using multiple cameras.

How it worked: Attendees stepped inside the 180 booth (360 booths are also offered) and posed as they had their photo taken by a dozen cameras. The photos are taken simultaneously and stitched together to create a 3D effect. Attendees receive their video instantly, and the GIF or MP4 is great for posting online.

Big picture: As the cameras click, a freeze-frame moment is born. The image instantly appears on a screen, ready to be shared. Exhibitors and organizers can personalize the experience, adding show or brand logos and themes to the videos that attendees can easily share on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok, amplifying brand visibility and engagement.

What it costs: "About $12,000 for one day, fully branded and delivered with all production and operations included."

How it delivers leads: "Data capture is baked into everything we do," said Wuenschirs, who emphasized the seamless integration of contact information capture and branding opportunities.

Which events have used it: Pixperience used its 360-degree photo system at Dreamforce – the annual tech conference produced by Salesforce – and created shareable GIFs for nearly 2,000 guests over four days.

Who else they work with: Previous clients include Hyundai 180 Catch - Super Bowl Photo Booth, Dell Match Play 360º  Photo Booth, Kate Spade New York - Bloom Bloom and AAA Game Day 180º Photo Booth — to name a few.
Watch or listen to our full interview and see the on-site demo here.

Survey of Exhibition Rates Reveals Materials Handling Costs Continue to Outpace Inflation

April 12, 2024
materials handling

While exhibition rates are more broadly aligning with inflation this year, specific areas, such as material handling rates, continue to outpace inflation, according to the findings of the Annual Survey of Exhibition Rates. The Exhibitor Advocate — a non-profit organization dedicated to providing industry stakeholders with expert advice, research and tools to amplify the voice of exhibitors — has released its latest survey that analyzes labor and equipment costs across 24 major U.S. cities.

This year’s report demonstrates that while trade shows continue to be a valuable sales and marketing channel, exhibitors are facing oncoming challenges that could influence their participation. For example:

·  Rising exhibitor-related costs are expected to force a redistribution of spending across events.

·  82% of respondents said they plan to exhibit at fewer in-person shows, citing exhibit-related costs.

·  Three in four exhibitors are being pressured to cut exhibiting costs.

·  In the next three years, 94% of respondents expect some level of change to their exhibit programs.

Jessica Sibila, executive director of The Exhibitor Advocate

“The industry’s sustained growth and success hinge on enhancing value for sponsors and exhibitors while also proactively reducing costs,” said Jessica Sibila, executive director of The Exhibitor Advocate. “Access to this unique data analysis is pivotal for all stakeholders in the exhibition ecosystem.”




Providing unique insights and actionable strategies that exhibitors, trade show and corporate event organizers and suppliers can leverage for strategic planning and cost management, the 2023 report was crafted in collaboration with independent show management and event solutions company Tradeshow Logic, supported by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and independently verified by third-party research agency EVOLIO Marketing.

This unique dataset underscores the industry’s need for a strategic approach to budgeting and advocacy for fair pricing, according to The Exhibitor Advocate officials.


Why it matters

For exhibitors, the survey can serve as a resource for budgeting and strategic planning, equipping exhibitors with the knowledge they need to navigate cost pressures, enable smarter allocation of resources across the entire event experience and optimize their investment to ensure a more substantial impact at every trade show.

The Exhibitor Advocate has released the 2023 Annual Survey of Exhibition Rates.

Trade show and corporate event organizers can leverage the survey’s analysis to help them make data-driven decisions that cater to the evolving needs of their exhibitors, reducing exhibitor costs and enhancing the exhibitor experience and, by extension, the overall value of their events.

Lastly, the survey’s insights into equipment and labor costs across different cities enable industry suppliers to tailor their offerings more closely to market demands, ensuring competitive pricing and improved service delivery. 

To provide a richer, more detailed understanding of the exhibition landscape, the 2023 report increased its scope to include “Expanded Scope of Services,” which incorporates forklift and hanging sign rates as well as commonly ordered show services such as carpet, furniture and internet.

To access the report, go here.


Venue News: $1 Million Tech Upgrade at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas and More From Baltimore, Riyadh and New York City

April 10, 2024

Meeting and convention facilities across the country and around the globe have been inking new deals with leading hospitality and management providers, upgrading technology infrastructure and launching new premium spaces for exhibitors and event organizers.


Smart City Networks Completes Network Upgrade at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (pictured)

Smart City Networks, provider of utilities, technology and telecommunications services for convention centers and hospitality venues, completed an almost $1 million network upgrade for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD) in Dallas.  

Started in July 2023 and completed in January, the upgrade encompasses improvements to edge switches, installation of new core gear, deployment of new wireless controllers and the rewiring of more than 180 fiber connections. The upgraded infrastructure guarantees uninterrupted connectivity, designed to enhance the technological experience for all visitors attending events at the KBHCCD, according to Smart City officials.

“This upgrade continues our long and ongoing history of continual upgrades at our partner facilities,” said David Langford, vice president of technology for Smart City Networks, which currently operates in more than 50 convention and meeting facilities nationwide. “This upgrade sets us on the path of ensuring the physical infrastructure is capable of handling ongoing upgrades for the next two decades at Kay Bailey Hutchison in Dallas.”

Looking ahead, Smart City will continue to partner with the City of Dallas and venue management company OVG360 as approved expansion plans for the convention center move forward.


Baltimore Convention Center Teams Up With Levy

Levy will be the exclusive food and beverage provider at the Baltimore Convention Center, beginning in July.

The Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) tapped Levy to serve as its exclusive food and beverage provider, beginning in July. Together, the two entities will work to bring an elevated, refreshed mindset to food and beverage at the downtown convention center, according to Levy officials.

“We’re beyond thrilled to partner with the Baltimore Convention Center to showcase what makes this city an incredible destination,” said Levy CEO Andy Lansing. “From the most high-profile national events and corporate meetings to special occasions, we’ll spotlight Baltimore’s food and beverage culture in unique ways.” 

As part of the agreement, the BCC and Levy will work together to craft menus, dining concepts and catering experiences that will be activated throughout the venue. In addition to unveiling new offerings, the partnership will focus on creative, elevated catering for major events, as well as prioritizing partnerships with local community organizations and minority- and women-owned businesses, while also continuing to elevate and expand sustainability initiatives. 

Levy’s Convention Centers division serves events of all sizes at major venues, including the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio; David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh; Javits Center in New York; Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Austin Convention Center and Los Angeles Convention Center, among others.


ASM Global Assumes Management of KAFD Conference Center in Riyadh

Photo caption: Gautam Sashittal, CEO of KAFD DMC (left) and Iain Wooldridge, CFO and VP, Regional Planning, MENA, ASM Global (right).

ASM Global entered into a strategic partnership with the King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company (KAFD DMC) to lead the operation and management of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The state-of-the-art facility features a 1,215 square-meter (13,078 square-foot) banquet hall that can accommodate up to 800 guests, a 600-seat auditorium with full lecture and cinema support and several outdoor plazas. The venue is fitted with operable walls and retractable projection screens that allow for different configurations and digital networking.


“Our commitment to excellence in venue management, event production and customer service aligns perfectly with the KAFD Convention Centre’s vision of becoming a global event destination,” said Paul Sergeant, ASM Global’s executive vice president of Asia and MENA (Middle East/North Africa). “With ASM Global MENA’s extensive global network, expertise and industry-leading technology, we aim to provide event organizers with the tools and support they need to host successful and memorable events.

Home to 1.6 million sq. m. (17,222,256 sq. ft.) of high-end office spaces, venues and luxury residences, KAFD is touted as the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified mixed-use business district in the world, according to ASM Global officials. It is owned and managed by the King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company (KAFD DMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Convene Announces New Location in Midtown Manhattan 

Venue 42 by Convene opened on April 1 in midtown Manhattan.

Convene, a global lifestyle hospitality company that designs and manages premium meeting, event and flexible workspaces, is gearing up to open Venue 42 by Convene, a new meeting and conference center located at 5 Times Square in Midtown Manhattan on April 1. 

Occupying approximately 30,000 square feet on the 5th floor of the 1.1 million sq.-ft. building, Venue 42 by Convene will be the 15th Convene location in New York City and will comprise nine meeting rooms, each of which can be customized for various event types, with the largest meeting room able to accommodate approximately 240 guests. 

“Demand for meeting and event space in the area remains strong and we’re proud to once again be partnering with RXR Realty to create an exceptional amenity space and conference center at 5 Times Square,” said Alex Adelman, vice president of managed services at Convene.  

As a provider of dedicated meeting and event venues in North America and the U.K., Convene’s newest NYC venue grows its global network to 40 premium meeting, event and flexible office locations across its portfolio of brands, including etc.venues.

Additionally, on March 25, Convene unveiled its expanded space at Convene 101 Park Avenue, its 101 Park Avenue venue in Midtown Manhattan, which now boasts a second floor and a larger footprint of 23,800 sq. ft. Located just steps from Grand Central Station, the event venue originally opened in 2013 and was renovated in June 2022.

Connected by a grand staircase, the new mezzanine level offers a large conference hall with full theatrical lighting that can accommodate up to 223 guests, floor-to-ceiling windows and an open gallery for networking and food breaks. The venue now comprises eight unique meeting rooms across two floors and a full buyout capacity of 583.  

The company’s corporate meeting and event spaces provide everything needed for a turnkey experience, including spaces designed to maximize collaboration and productivity, full-service event production resources, catering and a dedicated A/V team for in-room and hybrid tech support.  



Taste Trends: Q&A With Sodexo Live!’s Molly Crouch on Sustainable Menus

April 8, 2024

For exhibitors who are truly serious about sustainability and lowering the environmental footprint at their trade shows, exhibits and events, incorporating plant-forward menus is more than a culinary trend — it’s a strategic choice that aligns with broader societal shifts, especially among younger generations. By making this change, event organizers can not only enhance the attendee experience but also cut carbon and costs while contributing to a more sustainable and equitable world. 

The demand for plant-based options is growing steadily, driven by a combination of health concerns, environmental awareness and animal welfare considerations. While only 4 and 5% of the U.S. population are professed vegans and vegetarians, respectively, more people are walking away from meat and dairy consumption due to their harmful effects on animals, human health and the climate, as public awareness of these issues intensifies. 

With animal agriculture responsible for approximately 10-11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to deforestation, water use and pollution, switching to plant-based menus can be a forward-thinking move for business events looking to appeal to an environmentally aware, health-conscious demographic while demonstrating their commitment to progressive social and environmental practices.

So how can exhibitors balance satisfying the dietary preferences of all attendees while also meeting their sustainability goals?

Molly Crouch, corporate director of sustainability for Sodexo Live!

Just in time for Earth Month, we caught up with Molly Crouch, corporate director of sustainability for Sodexo Live!, a provider of food, beverage and hospitality services for global venues. The company boasts a bevy of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, including an emphasis on sustainable menus.

A member of the Sodexo Live! team since 2008, Crouch is responsible for executing the company’s CSR initiatives while working closely with colleagues across all sectors of the business to ensure strategic, effective and impactful growth in the sustainability space. Here’s what she shared about the steps the company is taking to move event menus in a more earth-friendly direction, and how event and exhibit planners can play a crucial role in this growing movement. 

What is Sodexo Live! currently doing to develop and promote more Earth-friendly, plant-based menu options for meetings and events?

We created an internal “Green Team” to ensure a constant conversation is happening around sustainability, and one of the pillars we work towards is boosting plant-based meals. By sharing Sodexo’s greater global targets around carbon reduction and the role plant-based eating plays, by fostering an awareness campaign and sharing best practices across our entire portfolio, and by providing an internal repository of helpful tips on how to start the conversations with clients, we’re able to work towards offering more Earth-friendly, plant-based offerings.

We also look to define the “why” and the “how” when it comes to choosing plant-based items that event planners can use to help them make a business case for their clients. In many ways, it’s a case-by-case situation, and we work with our clients to increase plant-based options as more of the standard vs. the exception. 

We’ve recently spoken with Greener by Default to look at our catering menus, like at the Orange County Convention Center, for example, to see if there are ways to include plant-based dishes as the focus on a buffet by putting it first, using eye-catching signage and offering smaller options of animal protein options.

We conscientiously incorporate planet-friendly ingredients, such as the Future 50 Foods, into our menus to increase the understanding of how planet-friendly eating can improve everyone’s health and well-being. We’re also in discussions with a carbon labeling company to apply real-world carbon data to our recipes helping our teams and our clients identify low carbon meal options more easily and increase overall awareness. 

When it comes to promoting plant-based menus at events, most organizers and venues emphasize cost-savings, sustainability and/or health benefits while avoiding addressing the ethical costs of consuming meat and dairy products. Do you see this changing any time soon?

I don’t see this changing too drastically within the next decade or so as older generations continue to currently influence most purchasing habits, including food, primarily based on cost. As millennials and Gen Z increase their influence on our markets worldwide, their values will start to turn the tide on awareness of the ethical costs of personal consumption habits including food and other goods. 

Last year, Sodexo released its first Sustainable Food Barometer report measuring the general population’s perceptions of sustainable food in four countries. In the U.S., 82% of those under the age of 45 felt that adopting more sustainable food practices is an urgent need. When it comes to eating less meat, 47% of those polled in the U.S. stated they don’t currently do it and don’t have the desire or intention to do it. These results show skepticism and a want to see a verifiable health benefit to reducing meat and dairy, with the ethical implications of the same decision coming in at a distant second.  

What are the biggest and most exciting plant-based culinary trends happening now in Sodexo convention center kitchens?

One of the biggest and most easily adaptable plant-based culinary trends is to take dishes that consumers already enjoy and replace the main ingredients with plant-based alternatives. 

From Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes to Chocolate Avocado Mousse, our convention center culinarians continue to develop scalable plant-based solutions for our guests. Our chefs enjoy upcycling plant-based ingredients into new and creative dishes that allow for the full use of the item resulting in a multitude of diverse tastes and textures.     

Some other delicious plant-based savory and dessert options include:  

  • Coconut Ceviche with Leche de Tigre
  • Butternut Squash Risotto with Farro Medio, Kale and Zucchini Bacon                
  • Vegan Apple Crisps
  • Pumpkin Bars with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Sodexo Live! Executive Chef Stephan Blaser at Huntington Place in Detroit is always including plant-based options when customizing menus (which is all the time!). Last year, he created an amazing four-course plant-based plated lunch for a sustainability meeting and it was both delicious and all locally sourced. 

Recently, Sodexo announced that it had teamed up with Humane Society International to create a specialized masterclass aimed at training chefs, nutritionists, buyers and marketing teams to create and promote plant-forward, animal-friendly and environmentally conscious menus. Can you explain how this works?

This innovative partnership with Humane Society International is a perfect fit with Sodexo’s overarching goal of increasing plant-forward options for our clients and consumers. It will allow our Sodexo Live! chefs to expand their knowledge and creativity, elevate the overall food experience, and inspire meeting and event planners to incorporate plant-based dishes at events. The format of this specialized masterclass will also help our teams educate planners on both the human health and climate benefits of plant-based eating. 

What are your top tips for helping event planners overcome any attendee pushback to eliminating meat and dairy from their event menus?

Help educate the attendees in advance on “why” it’s important through event apps, event websites, emails, etc. Put it in terms that attendees can easily relate to regarding the benefits of moving away from meats and dairy to help build a healthier planet full of healthier people. If attendees know the “why” and can personally relate to it, they’ll usually be more amenable to the change. 

Integrate plant-based options gradually year-over-year and highlight the benefits of those options on the event app and website. Plus, include onsite awareness through signage and other communication methods at the event itself. 

Lastly, consider serving international dishes that are more naturally plant-forward so the meat and dairy removal won’t be as noticeable, like Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Know of a dynamic event industry culinary professional who deserves some time in the spotlight? Reach out to lisa.savas@informa.com and danica.tormohlen@informa.com.


10 Exhibition Trends in the Asia-Pacific Market

April 5, 2024
sands macao

What’s the state of the exhibition industry in the Asia-Pacific region? In an ENN exclusive, we interviewed Mark Cochrane, regional director of Asia-Pacific for UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, to get the scoop on the annual in-person Regional Conference held March 7-8 at the Parisian Macao (pictured). 

Serving in his role for nearly 14 years, Cochrane shared his insider’s view on what’s trending in the region for exhibitions. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

1. Regional outlook: It’s almost universally optimistic news, but the two headlines: India and China. That's a big chunk of the [exhibitions] market, like 75%.  

2. COVID-19 bounceback: COVID restrictions were a reality for many markets in Asia at the beginning of last year, so it doesn't feel like ancient history to us. That's why last year was sort of getting our legs back, and this year is back to growth. 

3. India in growth mode: It's easy to start with India as the growth story. The Indian exhibition market is underdeveloped. It's been held back for a lot of years because there weren't enough venues to support the shows that organizers wanted to launch. Now we have a number of new venues in India, so that's unlocking a lot of growth for the industry in India. In general, the Indian economy is really on fire. It's the fastest growing economy in Asia, and it could be a growth story that could run for a while. China has been a 20-year growth story in terms of the overall economy, and now it could be India's turn to shine. I think people are really excited about it, so I put that as the No. 1 headline from Asia. (In fact, India’s poised for about 8% growth this year, that makes India easily the fastest growing economy in the world, according to CNBC.

Related: UFI Global Exhibition Barometer Reveals Industry Is Poised for Robust Growth in 2024 

UFI Asia-Pacific Regional Director Mark Cochrane

4. China factor: There's a lot of news coverage on the Chinese economy slowing down, but it's all relative. The GDP growth in China is still going to be higher than most Western developed countries. (In fact, The International Monetary Fund projects China's 2024 growth at 4.6%, according to Reuters.) China accounts for more than 60% of net space sold in Asia, so it is super-important. It sets the tone for the whole exhibition industry in Asia. Is it slower? Yes. Different than before COVID? Maybe a little bit more domestically focused because geopolitics are playing a part in that, as well. But overall, if you look at international organizers that have huge portfolios in China — RX and Informa would be the biggest — I think they're really happy with how their events are doing, especially in the major exhibition cities. 

5. Challenges: Rising costs. Most of the events here, especially the bigger ones, are going to have a significant international component. So that means higher costs in terms of flight, accommodations and getting goods in and out of market. All of those factors are raising the cost for exhibitors to participate in events. That means there's going to be a little bit of a flight to quality. You've got second-, third- and even fourth-tier cities in China, and there are lots of shows in those markets I think are going to be struggling compared to the tier-one cities. The four key cities in China for the exhibition market are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. That's 80% of the market right there, so the leading shows in those markets will do better, I think, because people will be willing to spend to be at those events. 

A panel on the main stage at the 2024 UFI Regional Conference held March 7-8 at the Parisian Macao.

Related: Watch videos from the 2024 UFI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference Day 1, Day 2, Full Event Recap

6. Four years in the making: This Asia Pacific conference was a special one because we had planned to go to Macau in February 2020. It took us four years to do it at this location. It might sound crazy that we had to wait that long, but the way COVID was handled in some countries in Asia was very different from the U.S. A lot of markets — China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan — didn't open for business again until January 2023. We didn't go to Macau last year because they weren't open in time to host it for 2023. We went to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Southeast Asia moved a little faster than China in terms of opening for business and removing restrictions. 

7. Meeting vibe: We had almost 300 delegates from 20 countries and regions around Asia to the Parisian Macao, the Las Vegas of Asia. We had great content, but what I felt more than anything was just the excitement to get back to networking. [There were] lots of people who hadn't seen each other in years. We had a lot of first-timers, as well. 

The 2024 UFI Asia-Pacific Conference drew nearly 300 delegates from 20 countries.

8. Co-located launch of Event Directors Summit: We had some new features at the event, like the Event Directors Summit, which we launched in Maastricht last year at the European Conference. It's a half-day seminar. Usually at UFI conferences, we tend to get the regional directors and general managers, but we wanted to engage the people responsible for organizing the event. We had 20 event directors responsible for a wide range of exhibitions from different markets. 

9. Experience to remember: We had an ice breaking event at the skywalk around Macau Tower, which is 230 meters in the air.

10. Session standout: My favorite session was Mark Harper from Swire, a Hong Kong -based conglomerate. They own everything from airlines to food and beverage. They own Cathay Pacific, the flagship airline for Hong Kong, property developments in Hong Kong and China, and the rights for Coca Cola bottling in Hong Kong and other markets. What I liked about Mark's session: He was focused on sustainability. There were a lot of lessons for our industry. If we try hard enough, it's achievable. 

What’s next: The UFI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference will be held in Australia for the first time when it runs in Melbourne in mid-March 2025. The full calendar of UFI events can be found here.

Watch or listen to the full interview here:

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Done Deals: Newport Boat Show, SCALISE Exhibits, ComplexCon, Northwest Event Show

April 4, 2024

As spring takes hold across the U.S., event companies have been busy completing and announcing fresh acquisitions and strategic partnerships to bolster their businesses and expand their market share. Here’s our latest roundup of recent business deals and partnerships happening in the trade show industry.

Newport International Boat Show Joins South Florida Ventures Portfolio

The Newport International Boat Show (NIBS) has joined the growing portfolio of high-end boating and yachting events managed by South Florida Ventures, a luxury lifestyle division of Informa Markets. The company acquired the annual show from The Newport Restaurant Group (NRG) owner and producer of the 53-year-old event, which occupies more than 13 acres of historic downtown Newport, RI, and boasts a lineup of more than 600 showcasing an extensive array of power and sailboats, marine accessories, products and services. 

As the first Northeast addition for South Florida Ventures’ boating portfolio, the next NIBS is set to take place Sept. 12-15 in the historic waterfront of downtown Newport. 

The next NIBS is set to take place Sept. 12-15 in the historic waterfront of downtown Newport.

“NIBS is a standout show, reflecting the vibrancy of the boating community in the Northeast,” said Andrew Doole, president of U.S. boat shows, South Florida Ventures. “This partnership signifies a true collaboration, driven by a shared dedication to customer satisfaction, community and a mutual interest in the future growth of NIBS and its brand.”

The acquisition comes as South Florida Ventures has rapidly expanded over the past five years, acquiring and launching specialized businesses and brands catering to the luxury lifestyle sector, including, most recently, the Miami International Boat Show. Its successful ventures include the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Palm Beach International Boat Show, the St. Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show and the Suncoast Boat Show. 

“South Florida Ventures is the ideal partner to lead the Newport International Boat Show into its next evolution,” said Lisa Knowles, NIBS show director. “This collaboration ensures that NIBS will maintain its renowned quality while gaining access to innovation, insights and cutting-edge technologies, enriching the experience for exhibitors and attendees alike. We eagerly anticipate welcoming everyone to an even more remarkable 2024 show in September!”

NTWRK Acquires Complex Networks 

NTWRK Co-founder and CEO Aaron Levant 

Livestream shopping platform NTWRK has acquired global streetwear, music and sports-centric media company Complex Networks in a deal that will create a new entity that will be “a new destination for ‘superfan’ culture” and bring an e-commerce marketplace into the former media brand’s ecosystem, according to officials from the two companies.

NTWRK is acquiring Complex from Buzzfeed, which purchased the streetwear-focused media company in 2021 for $300 million. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

NTWRK Co-founder and CEO Aaron Levant, who initially created NTWRK alongside Jamie Iovine and Gaston Dominguez-Letelier, and co-founded the music and style culture superfan event ComplexCon with Complex founder Marc Ecko in 2016, has been tapped as the CEO of the new company. 

“Complex has been a beacon of culture and innovation for over two decades,” Levant said in a recent statement. “My journey with Complex began as an admirer of their original magazine in 2002 and it has now come full circle as I step into the leadership role. Alongside this impressive team, we will create the definitive global content, commerce and experiential platform of convergence culture.”

The Rogers Company Acquires SCALISE Exhibits

Exhibit and display solutions provider The Rogers Company acquired SCALISE Exhibits, a trade show design and fabrication company founded in 1997 and based in Erie, Penn. SCALISE Exhibits personnel will join the Rogers team just a short drive from their current location. 

Rogers President Rick Busby

“We are thrilled to welcome SCALISE Exhibits to the Rogers family,” said Rogers President Rick Busby. “Their expertise and talented team are a great addition to our existing capabilities. We welcome SCALISE’s staff and clients and are eager to exceed their expectations.” 

With more than 165,000 square feet of storage and fabrication space in Mentor, Ohio, and Las Vegas, Rogers’ products and services include custom booth design and fabrication, an extensive rental inventory, modular and portable displays, corporate lobbies, showrooms, roadshows and special events. Founded in 1945 by scenic artist Van Rogers, the company’s experiential marketing services also include in-house design, graphics, technology, logistics, I&D and storage services.

“We are excited to join forces with Rogers and leverage their resources to drive continued growth,” said Doug Scalise, former partner of SCALISE Exhibits and now account executive at Rogers. “Together, we are well-positioned to deliver more products and services and even greater value to our clients.”

Northwest Event Show Partners With EventMobi

The Northwest Event Show (NWES), an industry gathering for event professionals in the Pacific Northwest, has partnered with event management platform EventMobi. NWES 2024, taking place April 3-4 at the Seattle Convention Center, will leverage EventMobi’s platform to cultivate an engaged community with ongoing networking, engagement and learning opportunities for more than 3,000 industry professionals year-round. 

Northwest Event Show (NWES) 2024 was held April 3-4.

NWES is transforming its two-day conference into a year-round event community by: 

  • Uploading session recordings and presentations, as well as hosting webinars, on the same platform 
  • Enabling forum discussions to support networking for local planners before and after the event 
  • Creating sponsorship opportunities by offering an interactive buyers guide where business partnerships can form post-event
  • Leveraging the event platform as a communication hub to share industry-relevant updates via emails
  • Simplifying the promotion and registration of local events, webinars and next year’s conference to an already-engaged user base

“This new partnership with EventMobi isn’t just about enhancing the NWES 2024 experience, it’s about laying the foundation for a robust, engaged network that lives beyond the confines of our event dates,” said NWES Executive Director Lisa Schulteis.

Have a trade show-related business deal to share? Please send news to lisa.savas@informa.com.


CES 2024 Audit Analysis: Unpacking the 20% Surge in Attendance Compared to Previous Years

April 3, 2024

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) recently revealed its final attendance data for CES 2024, the association’s annual tech mega-event in Las Vegas. According to an audit by Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), the trade show and conference drew 138,739 participants, including buyers, booth personnel and media, revealing a 20% increase year over year (YOY). Last year’s show attracted 117,841 total participants, according to the CES 2023 Audit by AAM.

Buyer numbers increased from last year but not at the same clip. In 2024, industry attendees representing buying organizations were verified at 80,024, compared with 71,628 in 2023 — an increase of 11% YOY. 

While all key metrics point to growth, CES has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, when the 2020 trade show attracted 171,268 attendees, including 100,798 buyers, according to the CES 2020 Audit

Back story: Launched in 1967, CES showcases groundbreaking technologies across more than 40 categories. In 2024, the top five product categories included: AI, vehicle tech, IoT (internet of things)/sensors, smart home and appliances and AR/VR/XR, according to the audit. CES 2017 was the highest attended with 184,279, according to the CES 2019 Audit


Actress Eva Longoria Speaking at CES 2024 LOreal keynote

Deeper dive: The CES 2024 Audit is available here. Highlights from the data include:

  • 56,432 (40%) international attendees, representing 161 countries, regions and territories — the largest percentage of international attendees to ever attend CES
  • 69,294 senior executives, representing a 15% increase compared to 2023. 
  • 4,312 registered exhibitors, a 10% increase year-over-year
  • 5,355 members of the media, compared with 4,806 in 2023
  • 302 of the Fortune Global 500 companies represented, compared with 300 last year

Related: CES 2024 Attracts Record International and Startup Participation, Shares Strategic Growth Strategies 

By the numbers: On the exhibits side (not subject to audit), CES 2024 reported a 10% growth across the show floor, with more than 4,300 exhibitors, including a record 1,400+ startups in Eureka Park. By comparison, CES 2020 featured 4,419 exhibiting companies across more than 2.9 million net square feet

What they are saying: "Our annual show audit proves CES is where business gets done," said CTA CEO Gary Shapiro. "Executives and business decision-makers see the value in face-to-face meetings and access to global media, which only a show like CES can provide. Nothing can replace these moments of serendipity."

CTA President Kinsey Fabrizio on the stage at CES 2024

Why it matters: "We were thrilled not just to welcome more than 138,000 people to CES 2024, but to back up those numbers with an independent audit," said CTA President Kinsey Fabrizio. "Transparency is part of our ethos as an association, and it is a best practice for the events industry as exhibitors and attendees evaluate value and impact. By every measure, CES provides an unparalleled experience."

Related: Celebrating Women’s History Month 2024 With Connectiv’s Courtney Muller and CTA’s Kinsey Fabrizio 

Context: CES complies with auditing standards established by UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, which requires an exhibition audit for membership. CES is one of a handful of North American association trade show organizers that are UFI members. The Toy Association, which is also an UFI member, audits Toy Fair.

Looking ahead: CES 2025 will return Jan. 7-10 to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Main image: Sony unveils new Afeela EV at CES 2024



HPE Discover 2024 Will Stage Its Keynote at Sphere

April 1, 2024

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) President and CEO Antonio Neri will be the first corporate leader to deliver a keynote address at Sphere in Las Vegas during HPE Discover 2024. On June 18, Neri will take the stage for the company’s gathering that kicks off on June 17 at the Venetian Convention and Expo Center

Backstory: Since opening in Las Vegas in September 2023, Sphere has hosted concerts like U2 and Phish, as well as films like Postcards From Earth. Since then, UFC announced plans for the first sporting event inside the Sphere in September. HPE’s session will be the first corporate event to leverage the venue’s full technical capabilities and unique offerings to create an experience to engage key stakeholders. 

Why it matters: “Big moments call for bold moves,” said Jim Jackson, chief marketing officer at HPE. “At the core of HPE’s rapid transformation is a commitment to bringing innovative, new experiences that engage new audiences and define the future. Sphere is the perfect venue for us to declare what’s next for our brand and to bring to life the technologies that will enable enterprises to thrive in the AI era.”

HPE President & CEO Antonio Neri will deliver a keynote at Sphere during HPE Discover 2024.

Zooming in: HPE Discover 2024 will feature three curated programs, including Edge Computing, Hybrid Cloud and AI. With registration starting at ​​$1,895, the event offers hundreds of sessions and demos across these topic areas, and attendees can meet with experts and peers, elevate their skills and explore the solutions to discover what’s next for their businesses. The event will also include general sessions by HPE leaders — such as Fidelma Russo, EVP and GM, Hybrid Cloud, and HPE CTO; Neil MacDonald, EVP and GM, Compute and HPC & AI; and Phil Mottram, EVP and GM, HPE Intelligent Edge — who will share the latest announcements, partnerships and innovations coming from HPE and customers around the globe.

What they’re saying: “Sphere is where the world’s biggest artists, and now the biggest brands, go when they want to create an experience unlike any other,” said Sphere Business Operations President Jennifer Koester. “The HPE keynote will leverage the venue’s cutting-edge technologies to deliver a bespoke experience that sets a new bar for brand storytelling and corporate events.”

Deeper dive: Consisting of approximately 1.2 million LED pucks, the exterior of Sphere – the Exosphere –  is capable of displaying more than 1 billion different colors – creating an unparalleled digital canvas for brands. With 17,600 seats and a 160,000-square-foot LED screen that wraps up, over and around the audience, Sphere offers a fully immersive visual environment. Sphere’s immersive sound, powered by HOLOPLOT, delivers precise, crystal-clear sound quality to every seat.

Sphere’s Atrium is a 5.7 million cubic feet space that creates an otherworldly experience from the moment guests enter the venue. 

Zooming out: Sphere is owned and operated by Sphere Entertainment Co., a live entertainment and media company that includes MSG Networks, which operates two regional sports and entertainment networks, MSG Network and MSG Sportsnet, as well as a direct-to-consumer and authenticated streaming product, MSG+, delivering a wide range of live sports content and other programming.

Partner Voices
For the past 18 years, BlueHive Exhibits has been a steadfast partner for both national and international companies, catering to their trade show and event needs.