by Brendan M. Lynch | January 01, 2006

iaem expo

Floor show: IAEM’s recent Expo! Expo!

In an atmosphere of hope and some confusion, on Dec. 1, 2005, the boards of the International Association for Exhibition Management and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research proposed a “consolidation” of the two organizations.
    “It has been discussed on and off for a while,” said Steven Hacker, CAE, president of IAEM. “The two organizations are pretty close and have done a lot of work together,” he noted, citing their joint ownership of the Exhibition Industry Foundation. “It’s a great fit.”
    But the announcement of the consolidation, made by outgoing IAEM chairman Chris Brown at the association’s annual Expo! Expo! meeting, caused a measure of bafflement. 
    Because of a broken Teleprompter, many in attendance at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center were given the impression that the two groups were completely merging in what sounded like a done deal. In fact, CEIR is to remain a separate entity with its own board of directors under the proposal, which has yet to be finalized. 
    “When the [notion of a] merger came up, it was purely an accident,” said a CEIR spokesperson. “Chris Brown was told that if the Teleprompter goes down, talk to what you’re most comfortable about. And that’s what happened. It went down, and he said it was a ‘merger.’ But it’s not it’s a potential consolidation.”
    The upshot, according to the spokesperson: “We have agreed to an agreement.” 
    The announcement came as a separate controversy erupted concerning IAEM’s identity. By a show of hands, Brown asked attendees at a luncheon to approve a name change to the International Association for Exhibitions and Events. But many in the audience had been unaware that such a change was even under consideration, and the vote showed deep division over the new name. Ballots were then cast. But later, at the Chairman’s Gala, it was announced that the results were null and void, since too few votes had been submitted. 
    “We invalidated the vote because questions arose regarding the presence or absence of quorum,” said Hacker. “I believe 413 votes were turned in, and that falls far short of our quorum requirement. A lot of people didn’t vote. Rather than risk a failed outcome, we chose to invalidate the process and recommit it for the members’ vote at a later time.”
    As for members’ apparent lack of familiarity with the proposal to give the association a new name, Hacker suggested that some attendees “don’t read” or “forget” materials sent to them in the mail. “This was communicated, he said, “but not effectively enough.”