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January 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   CRITICS SAY COMPETING EVENTS CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE
Trade Shows Duke It OutImage
The inaugural G2E show drew more than 8,000. Competition is supposed to be good for business, but when upstart trade shows challenge events that have dominated their industries for decades, not everyone looks at it as a healthy development.

Instead of strengthening business, some worry that more shows will merely divide and weaken the industries they serve.

Case in point: The World Gaming Congress and Exhibition, held every fall in Las Vegas, was the industry’s main event for 20 years. In 2001, WGCE faced competition from the Global Gaming Expo, or G2E, an event hosted by the American Gaming Association in Washington, D.C., and Reed Exhibitions of Norwalk, Conn.

The inaugural G2E was also held in Las Vegas, two weeks before WGCE, forcing exhibitors and attendees to choose between the two events or invest the time and money to attend both.

“When you split an industry, somebody is spending money that doesn’t get maximum return,” admitted Richard White, president of Reed Exhibitions. “It is awkward and costly to exhibitors.”

Nonetheless, White was pleased with this first effort. G2E attracted between 8,000 and 8,500 attendees, exceeding estimates, said White.

For its part, WGCE’s attendance dropped by 10,000, to about 18,000 attendees this year. After the show, Bill Newman, CEO of organizer Gem Communications, posted a call for unity on WGCE’s Web site. “We need to put divisions aside if we are truly a business of putting customers first,” the letter read. Newman was unavailable for comment.

Soon to face competition in its own niche is EIBTM, the European Incentive Business Travel & Meetings exhibition, held each spring in Geneva and considered the premier event for the European market.

The founder of EIBTM, Ray Bloom, will launch a competing event, IMEX, which will kick off in Frankfurt in April 2003, one month before EIBTM.

Bloom, the East Sussex, England-based chairman of IMEX, said, “Suppliers always want the opportunity to create new business and look after the contacts they already have.” He expects at least 2,000 hosted buyers plus 3,000 German buyers.

As for the April dates, Bloom said he did not want to go up against the venerable Incentive Travel & Meetings Executives show, held each fall in Chicago.

The new event “is going to cause some disruption in the market,” conceded Tom Nutley, managing director for Reed Exhibitions, which produces EIBTM. But, he added, the presence of IMEX ups the ante for EIBTM organizers to make improvements to the show.

In agreement was Douglas Ducate, president and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research in Chicago. “Is [competition] healthy in the short term? Probably not, but the surviving event might be better because of the competition.”

• MARTHA COOKE

Few Price Hikes Allowed

Year to Year: Comparing Government Hotel Per Diems in Urban Markets20002001 Boston $192 $192 Chicago $130 $130 Las Vegas $72 $72 Los Angeles $99 $99 New York City $198 $198 Philadelphia $118 $118 San Francisco $139 $159 Washington, D.C. $118 $119 Source: General Services Administration, Washington, D.C.;
policyworks.gov/perdiem

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