April 09, 2008

The trade show industry grew in 2007 for the fifth consecutive year, but at a slower rate than in 2006, according to the latest Center for Exhibition Industry Research Index. The report -- which measures attendance, exhibitors, revenue and net square footage at more than 300 trade shows -- indicated the industry grew at 3.2 percent last year, compared with the 4.8 percent rate posted the previous year. Revenue increased 6.8 percent and attendance was up 4.9 percent, while the number of exhibitors and net square footage remained relatively flat, up 0.9 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. The fastest growing market last year was the government, public and nonprofit services sector, which increased 12.6 percent. Only two sectors -- consumer goods and retail trade, and communications and information technology -- have decreased since 2000, the year the Index began. Over that time, the trade show industry has grown at a compound annual rate of 2.5 percent.

The associations that organize two major manufacturing and metalforming trade shows, METALFORM and the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show, have announced they will co-locate their events, beginning in 2009 in Chicago. The combined show is expected to draw 1,300 exhibitors and take up 650,000 square feet of exhibit space. In what the organizers are calling a "soft start" to the new partnership, METALFORM will have a pavilion at this year's FABTECH, to be held in Las Vegas in October, and then produce a full show co-located with FABTECH next year. Moving forward, both shows will maintain their distinct names and branding. Mark Tomlinson, executive director of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, said the move is advantageous for attendees and exhibitors who no longer need to attend separate events.