The Center for Exhibition Industry Research in September released its first-ever Exhibition Industry Index, compiling three years of data across 11 industry sectors against which to measure itself. Now, industry stakeholders can access benchmark performance on attendance, number of exhibitors, amount of show space and revenue.
According to the findings, b-to-b exhibition industry revenue declined 6% from 2000 to 2003. Despite the drop, the event industry fared better than other media. Advertising spending for b-to-b magazines, for example, fell 22% from 2000 to 2003, according to American Business Media's Business Information Network reports.
"Our goal was to create an index that would be our own Dow Jones, an indicator to apply to the entire universe of shows," said Doug Ducate, president-CEO of CEIR. "Until then, all we had was anecdotal [information]."
ABM is a founding sponsor of the index. Jordan, Edmiston Group, an investment banker to the media industry, is title sponsor, while trade associations including the Exhibition Industry Foundation, PCMA Education Foundation and the Society of Independent Show Organizers also backed it. Tradeshow Executive was publishing sponsor; researcher Johnson Lambert conducted the study.
Adam Gross, VP-marketing and communications for Jordan, Edmiston Group, said the results give users a roadmap for their businesses. "We felt the end product would be so important to the exhibition industry overall," he said. "It will show [events producers] where they want to invest their money."
The index, available on CD-ROM and in print, is based on 250 business media events over a three-year period. The industry sectors covered in the report are professional business services; consumer goods and retail trade; sports/travel/entertainment/art and consumer services; food; government, public and nonprofit services; building, construction and repair; industrial/heavy machinery; communications and information technology; medical and health care; raw materials and science; and transportation.
Ducate said the goal is to publish quarterly, but in order to do so, CEIR will need to measure at least 1,000 events.
Industry experts said it won't take long to reach that number of events. "The timing on that should be pretty fast," said Gordon Hughes, president-CEO of the ABM, which will help market the research to a wider constituency along with the other sponsors.
In the meantime, business media companies such as Hanley Wood Exhibitions are already putting the information to use in molding future strategy.
"I was in the middle of working on a five-year plan for our business," said Galen Poss, president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions, the event marketing arm of Hanley Wood. "Having that benchmark that said, `here's what has happened, here's what's going to happen,' and being able to overlay the building and construction industry [benchmarks] on that and then take our own events and overlay [them] on the established metrics, was very helpful."
"It enabled us to see that our sector as a whole was performing better than many other industries, and we were able to chart our own shows, where we fared favorably within that," he said.