Rick McConnell took the helm of Hanley Wood Exhibitions in 2009, charged with shoring up the company's portfolio of construction industry events during a downturn that had eroded face-to-face spending.
“Across the trade show industry, shows were under duress,” McConnell said. “As [the construction markets] cooled off, it had a real impact. We had downward pressure on pretty much every show across the portfolio. It was important to create strategies that solidified our strengths.”
McConnell and his team took a multitiered approach. They investigated untapped markets, developing high-growth niches such as sustainable products. “The construction industry was going through hard times, but there were bright spots,” McConnell said. “We built strategies off those bright spots.”
McConnell grew the company's sales force and increased its focus on recruiting new exhibitors. Hanley Wood also introduced a loyalty program that rewarded existing marketers for early commitments and the expansion of booth footprints. “There are a lot of moving parts,” McConnell said.
Since the nadir in 2009, Hanley Wood's core events have grown, McConnell said, and that trend is expected to accelerate as the construction industry recovers. The company has found new revenue through show management contracts and is considering additions to its own portfolio.
“Until this year we haven't been in a mode of acquisition, but we're starting to heat that engine up again,” McConnell said.