August 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   TRADE SHOW LEADERS GATHER TO DISCUSS ECONOMY, WANING ATTENDANCE
Inaugural Forum Wraps Up
Sam Lippman More than 100 leaders of the exhibition industry gathered in Washington, D.C., on June 25 for the inaugural Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum to discuss the challenges facing trade shows.

“Last fall it became obvious there were strategic issues with shows both on the for-profit and the association side,” said Michael Hough, president of the Weathersfield, Conn.-based consulting firm MRH Associates. “Many shows were not showing profit, and attendance was lower.”

Hough, along with Sam Lippman, president of Integrated Show Management & Marketing, based in Arlington, Va., conceived the ECEF as a chance to bring together association and for-profit trade show managers.

Moderated speaker sessions throughout the one-day meeting focused on the tough economics of sustaining a show’s bottom line amid escalating costs and flagging attendance. A secondary purpose of the event was to promote partnerships between for-profit and nonprofit entities, including co-location arrangements and joint marketing efforts.

To participate, attendees had to qualify as decision-makers, said Lippman. Nearly half held titles of CEO, COO or executive director.

The level of the crowd was impressive, said participant Jerry Kallman Jr., president of Waldwick, N.J.-based trade show representation firm Kallman Associates. However, he added, a more interactive format would have been preferable. “No matter how good the information is, to stand in front of a group of high-level people and just talk isn’t the best way of getting the message across,” he said. The 2003 ECEF will take place on May 22 in Washington, D.C. Like this year’s event, “The thrust of the forum will be how to improve your events through partnerships,” said Lippman.


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