2012: The Year in Review

The past year has been one of steady—albeit at times cautious—growth for the tradeshow industry. EXPO Magazine has rounded up the top headlines from the last year in an effort to deliver a complete picture to readers and help you better understand where we might be headed in 2013.



• In his annual State of the State address, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans to build the country’s largest convention center on the outskirts of New York City. Under the proposal, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center would cease to exist.

The Aqueduct Race Track in Queens would be the site of a proposed 3.8-million-square-foot convention center that would be specifically designed to accommodate the nation’s largest events, drive demand for hotel rooms and restaurant meals, and create new tourism revenue, according to Cuomo’s plan.

F+W Media, a Blue Ash, Ohio-based media company serving enthusiasts in about 20 verticals including antiques and collectibles, crafts, writing and horticulture, acquired World Tea Media, organizer of the World Tea Expo, in early January. In addition to the World Tea Expo, which celebrated its 10th year in 2012, World Tea Media assets include the World Tea East event, the North American Tea Championship and World Tea News, an online destination for the tea trade.



 • David Audrain joined Clarion Events North America as president and CEO, a newly created position, Clarion announced in early February. An 18-year veteran of the exhibition management industry, Audrain spent the last six years as president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt North America, where he developed and grew a portfolio of nine exhibitions in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

 • UBM acquired four tradeshows for $38 million. Collectively, the shows generated about $13.5 million in revenue in 2011. Three of the shows became part of UBM Asia while the fourth joined UBM Aviation.

Tom Florio, who, as Vogue vice president and publisher from 2002 to 2009, partnered with Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour to turn the magazine into a multimedia powerhouse, switched to the B-to-B side on Valentine’s Day with his CEO hire of Advanstar’s newly formed fashion and retail group. Florio now oversees Advanstar’s MAGIC event, the largest apparel trade show in the U.S. Florio is also responsible for Advanstar’s PROJECT show. 



• Access Intelligence, owner of EXPO magazine publisher Red7Media, announced in late March that it acquired LeadsCon, a portfolio that includes the biannual LeadsCon conference, the membership-based LeadsCouncil, the Daily Deal Summit series, an e-newsletter and other soon-to-be-announced marketing conferences and products.

• After 20 years with George Little Management, Dorothy Belshaw, a senior vice president and show director for the New York International Gift Fair, left the company. It was the latest of several management changes after GLM was sold in September by its former parent company, the Daily Mail & General Trust, for $173 million. In November 2011, GLM announced the departure of Co-presidents Alan Steel and Jeff Little and Senior Vice President Jack Withiam. Belshaw went on to become president of the International Market Centers Gift Division. 



• In April, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority announced that it would eliminate its 8-percent management fee. The plan to get rid of the fee, which was paid to the facility’s labor supplier, Elliot-Lews Corp., took effect in July. The move was intended to offset the cost for meeting planners staging events
in Philadelphia.

The Border Security Expo announced it grew its event across multiple categories in April—the 2012 event attracted 1,800 attendees from 10 countries, an increase of 21 percent over the previous year. The exhibit hall was sold out to accommodate the 200-plus exhibitors at the expo, a 24-percent year-over-year increase.

Maritz Travel acquired Experient. By combining Maritz’s core corporate travel competency with Experient’s wide range of meetings and travel expertise, officials said they believed the two companies would be able to better serve clients’ needs. Combining the companies gave Maritz Travel 12 regional locations.



• An organization calling itself Friends of Javits sent Cuomo what it described as a call for the Javits Center to remain open. Signed by 20 of the convention and tradeshow industries’ largest companies and associations—including Freeman, George Little Management, Messe Frankfurt, Metropolitan Exposition Services, National Retail Federation and Reed Exhibitions—the letter told Cuomo “Javits customers are adamant that the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center remain open long term.”

• The Aqueduct convention center plan, indeed, hit a wall in May. Genting, a Malaysian gambling company, had been selected by Cuomo to fund the proposed convention center project and operate a casino planned to be part of the project. “We started talking to Genting, which is one of the [bidding companies],” Cuomo said at the time. “We had the conversations going on for a few weeks. The conversations haven’t really worked.”



Reed Exhibitions, in a dramatic shift away from exhibition industry booth-pricing norms, moved away from selling booths based on square footage and instead implemented a new approach based on location, timing and traffic patterns. The pricing initiative allows customers to select space based on what they most value, said Reed Exhibitions Senior Vice President Nancy Walsh. “It just makes sense. We are willing to pay more for things we truly value. The option to choose is a value.”

• EXPO hosted its first annual educational summit for the U.S. event planning community—ExpoNext. Drawing 200-plus attendees in June, the two-day event for show organizers was acclaimed by attendees, exhibitors and speakers alike for creating a unique value-proposition and for offering a rich, top-quality program and high-level faculty. The winners of the first-ever E.X.C.I.T.E. Awards, a program that shines a spotlight on the best aspects of a show, were also announced at Expo Next.



• The International Association of Exhibitions and Events announced it would officially say goodbye to long-time president Steven Hacker in October. The association selected David DuBois, then-CEO of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, to fill the position.

• Also in July, the Wicks Group acquired Northstar Travel Media, a B-to-B firm serving the travel and meetings industries. Northstar Travel Media has several events within its portfolio that includes the Global Travel Marketplace, Travel Weekly Leadership Forum and Travel Weekly Cruise World & Home Based Agent Show.



• In August, Reed Exhibitions announced the acquisition of seven events in six countries and the launch of 15 new exhibitions during the first half of the year. The company took its first steps into Indonesia and Turkey and launched new joint ventures in China and India. Revenue for Reed Exhibitions increased from about $519 million in the first six months of 2011 to $729 million for the same period in 2012.



• The tradeshow industry performed better than the U.S. economy in general in 2011, beating even an industry-affiliated organization’s forecast for the year. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) anticipated even stronger growth in the industry for the rest of 2012 and the years to come. Those conclusions and other findings were part of the CEIR Index Report, both an analysis of the exhibition industry and a forecast of future performance, released at the CEIR Predict conference in New York this past September.

• Also in September, ABM’s Business Information Network Report showed that tradeshows continued to carry the water for the B-to-B media and information industry as revenue jumped 4.4 percent in the first six months of 2012 when compared to the first half of 2011. Live events, the largest industry component, made up nearly half (45.7 percent) of the $12.5 billion generated by the sector from January to June 2012, up from 40 percent for the full year 2011.



• In October, Las Vegas and Chicago re-signed several major shows. The SEMA Show, owned by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, and Advantstar’s MAGIC Marketplace extended their contracts with the Las Vegas Convention Center, while the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and the International Manufacturing Technology Show committed to remain for several more years at McCormick Place in Chicago.

• Reed Exhibitions’ American Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) selected a new leader in October—Michael Lyons signed on as the new AIBTM exhibition director. After almost 40 years in the industry, Lyons said he was ready for the assignment.



Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on early November tradeshows causingseveral postponements and cancellations along the East Coast. The National College Fair, scheduled for Nov. 1 with an estimated attendance of 3,500, was canceled. The MESCO 2012 Annual Dealer Trade Show, expected to attract about 1,000 attendees to the Atlantic City Convention Center Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, was canceled. The ASAH Annual Conference, a meeting of an organization of New Jersey special education professionals, scheduled for Nov. 1-2 at the Atlantic City center, was also cancelled.



• IAEE’s annual meeting and exhibition, Expo! Expo!, was held Dec. 4-6 in Orlando. The event represented the passing of the torch from outgoing President and CEO Steven Hacker to David DuBois. Gary Sain, the industry veteran and former CEO and president of Visit Orlando who died suddenly in May, was honored with IAEE’s Lifetime Achievement Award.