Trade shows exhibit enduring appeal

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

BtoB, 3/14/11

Trade shows have roots extending back further than Gutenberg. So why is this ancient medium standing tall in the digital age?

Carter Kersh, Juniper Networks’ director-Americas field marketing, said his business unit plans to double event spending this year. The reason, he said, is simple human nature: “We do virtual events, virtual training and webinars. All of those things are great, but sometimes people have to shake a hand, touch a box, feel in a visceral way what a company is about.”

Kersh isn’t the only one who feels that way. The CEIR Index, an aggregate of four event industry metrics compiled by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, increased 4.1% last year compared with 2009—an indication that trade shows are emerging from the recession strong. In last year’s fourth quarter, each of the CEIR Index metrics increased compared with the year-earlier period: exhibiting companies increased 2.1%; revenue, 4.2%; professional attendance, 5.4%; and net square feet, 5.6%.

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