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Trade show audit council formed

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Answering the call for third-party verification of its trade show attendance numbers and demographics, MediaLive International last month announced that BPA International would audit this month’s Comdex Las Vegas 2003.

MediaLive also announced the formation of the IT Event Management and Audit Council (IT EMAC), an independent group that will create and promote audit standards for the IT event industry.

Council members include representatives from MediaLive, BPA, Carat Business & Technology, CeBIT, the Computer Event Marketing Association (CEMA), CMP Media, Exhibit Surveys, the George P. Johnson Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., the International Association for Exhibit Management, IDG, Microsoft Corp., Quantum Corp. and TechTarget. The council will meet for the first time at the Comdex show on Nov. 18.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm in the IT event community for doing more with audits," said Melinda Kendall, senior VP-marketing for MediaLive, which produces Comdex, NetWorld + Interop, Seybold and other IT events.

"We want to look at what more we can do to make sure audits are useful to exhibitors and marketers," she said.

The council will look at data comparability, how rigorously the information is audited and the way data are presented.

In addition to providing an audit of its attendees, this month’s Comdex for the first time will charge an admission fee of $50 at pre-registration, or $100 at the door, to attendees who do not meet qualification criteria. For qualified attendees, the fee will be waived.

Also last month, CeBIT released the results of the audit for its debut U.S. show, CeBIT America, held June 18-20 in New York. The audit, conducted by Exhibit Surveys, reported a verified enterprise-buying audience of 8,510 qualified attendees. Of these, 43% were representatives of an enterprise buyer, government agency or educational institution, and 32% were trade resellers, systems integrators, developers or IT consultants.

Of the enterprise buyers, government agencies and educational institutions, more than 60% projected their organizations’ expenditures on IT solutions would exceed $5 million in the next 12 months. Roughly 90% of attendees representing enterprise buyers, government agencies and educational institutions said they influence buying decisions within their organizations.

"It proves we are strictly trying to be about the quality of the event and the audience of the right people and not the mass," said Mark Dineen, managing director of CeBIT America.

In addition to its commitment to providing audits of its own events, CeBIT is seeking to create industry standards through its involvement with IT EMAC, Dineen said. "For the benefit of the industry, and for the benefit of making strong shows stronger, let’s make it equal so we’re all playing on the same field," he said.

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