Trade show attendance numbers and ROI
In 2019 ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) touted 81,000 attendees. CES had about 110,000. NAB weighed in at 107,000. InfoComm 2019 was 42,000 in the Orlando summer. But what were the “real” numbers of those shows? Not certain any of us will ever know.
One thing that the pandemic gave us was the idea, the metric, of verified attendees. I, for one, applaud AVIXA for pushing this as the new reality. In 2021, during a COVID variant, AVIXA still put on the annual North American commercial AV show. The number they posted after the October event was 7,500 “verified attendees”. For this years’ trek to Las Vegas those numbers came in at just under 20,000 (19, 681) verified attendees. Verified attendees? Now, what does it take to be verified?
For both CES and NAB in 2022 the listed audience number was made up of integrators, press, consultants, customers, and exhibition staff. This type of accounting lends itself to inflated overall numbers. Those numbers look great in a press release and when you are trying to sell next year’s show. Where it doesn’t work is with exhibitors.
Why Verified Attendees Matter
As a reminder, my day job is head of marketing for CTI in St. Louis. For the second InfoComm in a row we have exhibited on the show floor. I have had some incredible learning, and humbling, experiences the last two shows. One of those is figuring out how many attendees you managed to get to your booth. If you’re a large manufacturer with a ginormous booth, no sweat. You simply put out your sign and, BOOM, you have people magically show up. For the rest of us, our booth visits help with the ROI (return on investment) of the cost of showing.
Even for those large manufacturers, ROI is a concern. Exhibiting at any tradeshow has a couple of considerations. For InfoComm, it’s a combination of connecting with the AV users, in-house integrators, and decisions makers. We are also supporting the overall AV community by supporting AVIXA. Even still, accounting will ask me how much we spent and whether it was worth the money. Giving exhibitors, large and small, the ability to confidently gauge how well they attracted people to the booth is one-way AVIXA and InfoComm help, at least this exhibitor, make the decision on whether to return next year.
On AVWeek Episode 566, our guests weighed in on the Verified Attendee metric. Dawn Meade, now an end-user but an integrator in years past, said “The fact that they’re giving you verified numbers, that’s a hard metric. That’s an actual number that you can rely on.” Meade went on to say that not only was the metric substantial but the quality of the audience was greater than in 2019.
Joel Norris from Shure added, “(the verified number) has given us some granular detail that allows for better demand planning.
AVIXA is just one organization in a sea of other trade shows. Having them lead the way in this area is a positive first step as we move beyond COVID and into a version of live events that is both positive and safe. Events aren’t going anywhere. At least not in the tech field. There are too many new and emerging technologies that require the user to see, hear, and experience Giving those of us that exhibit a more transparent attendance number to base our future plans on is a welcome change from other shows. Thanks. Keep it up, AVIXA.
Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.