Q&A with Pete Erickson of Hall-Erickson Inc.

Pete EricksonM&C spoke with Pete Erickson, president of Hall-Erickson Inc., organizer of the Motivation Show, shortly after the three-day show ended on Sept. 30. Erickson had just announced that beginning next year, the largest trade show for the U.S. meeting and incentive industry would undergo some significant changes: a move from Chicago's McCormick Place South to the newer, Wi-Fi-enabled McCormick Place West, and a switch from a three-day exhibition format to one day of education seminars, two days of exhibition.

M&C: Do you have any numbers yet for exhibitors and attendees at the 2009 show?
Erickson: Total exhibit space was down one-third. Our attendee registration totalled 9,131, compared with 10,467 in 2008, representing a 13 percent decline, which we are very pleased with for this year. Most trade shows have been down significantly more. The final attendance audit from Exhibit Surveys should be available by Nov. 1 and will be posted on the show's website (motivationshow.org).

M&C: Are you seeing a change in your attendee profiles?
Erickson: We used to have a lot more corporate end-users. Now, we have more resellers [third-parties], though the number of incentive-house reps is down this year.

M&C: What is your biggest challenge these days?
Erickson: It's return on investment for attendees: providing compelling reasons for them to leave the office for two or three days and learn things that can change their company and business. We're measuring the results this year [Catalyst Event Group is conducting the research]. The ROI study won't be completed for several months, since it measures what attendees do with the information they receive at the show and the impact on their organization. We'll post the final study on the website next spring.

M&C: Any more plans for the future?
Erickson: We're speaking with some organizations, though nothing's definite yet, about colocating their events -- for example, the annual meeting -- to take place around the same dates in Chicago as soon as 2010 and definitely by 2011.

M&C: What are your thoughts on Reed Travel Exhibition's North America hosted buyer show, Americas Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition [AIBTM], which will debut in Baltimore June 21-23, 2011?
Erickson: We think this event will help provide the incentive and meeting marketplace with greater visibility within corporate America. The market potential is so great here in the United States that any event that advances the message that motivational experiences are a powerful business tool to achieve corporate objectives will help all of us grow the marketplace. We look forward to learning more about their plans and possibly cooperating on educational efforts.