Among the attendees, Victoria Smith, an exhibit manager at Northrop Grumman, said she was looking for a better way to adjust her trade show schedule for the 25 shows she does each year. This was her third time at TS2. "Each time you learn more, and that helps you get more organized."
Beth Jones, an exhibit manager at Procter & Gamble Co. who helps manage 50 North American and Canadian shows each year, said, "I appreciate the educational sessions offered on several levels. The classes I attended were filled." She said she especially liked a session on hidden charges. "On the show floor, I look at ideas on how to set up graphics and identify messages," she added.
First-time attendee Catherine Filarski, owner of Consulting Inc., had arrived from the concurrent International Association for Exhibition Management's Chicago chapter luncheon. "I want to network and get a feel for what's happening," she said.
One longtime exhibitor, Live Marketing, experienced a busy booth. R.J. Coleman, account manager at Live Marketing, said the agency sees a trend of marketers examining live presentations as a means to deliver messages. "The trend toward more meetings and events is moving up," he said. "Companies are very careful with their money, and we work in a holistic way to put together a program that works on the trade show floor. It takes a certain skill level to get a message across."
Michael Hughes, associate publisher and director of research for Tradeshow Week, presented results from a research study, "The 2006 Tradeshow Week Executive Outlook Corporate Exhibitor Report," conducted via e-mail in June and July specifically for TS2. The complete results of the research will be made available shortly at www.ts2show.com .
In addition to steady event marketing industry growth, the report found that attendees are more focused, better prepared and time-driven. The survey asked what exhibitors are doing to communicate more effectively with attendees. Doing "more" was a common theme; especially more preshow marketing and more aggressive post-show follow-up. Seventy-three percent of 230 respondents said they're facing more pressure to prove ROI.
"As long as exhibitors provide high-quality staff interactions and add value to the buying cycle, the events industry will be healthy," Hughes said. "But our sense is this message may need to filter up to more corporate marketing executives."
Event marketing industry growth bodes well for live events like TS2.
"TS2 is back to its glory days, and it's poised for even more explosive growth next year, said Stephen Schuldrenfrei, president of TSEA.
The event, held July 25-27 at Chicago's McCormick Place, hosted 2,735 attendees, up 13% over last year. Showing an increase of 14%, the 197 exhibiting companies included transportation services, exhibit builders and lead tracking systems, among others, occupying 41,900 square feet, 12% more than last year. The event offered approximately 70 educational sessions, as well as a dozen free exhibitor showcase presentations on the floor.