David DuBois took over the leadership role at the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) in late 2012 when former President and CEO Stephen Hacker retired. With his second IAEE’s Expo! Expo! completed, DuBois spoke with Expo Executive Editor Michael Hart about the accomplishments of his first full year and what 2014 holds for both IAEE and the tradeshow industry.
EXPO: With your first full year at IAEE in the books, what would you say your and the organization’s major successes were?
David DuBois: I was very fortunate 15 months ago to walk into a very well run organization. It wasn’t broken. Stephen [Hacker] left it in great shape.
That allowed me to focus on getting out. I made 48 trips in the last year. It was great. We had over a 20-percent increase in new member organizations and a 50-percent increase in new member organizations from outside the United States.
Taking trips, not sitting behind my desk being an administrator—it worked. I am an association executive, but I’m a sales and marketing guy and they wanted to create a little bit more buzz about the organization and grow it. That’s what I committed to and our first-year results are very positive.
EXPO: What are your top goals for 2014?
DuBois: I always preface this by saying we will continue to focus on what is 90 percent of our membership and that’s the U.S. We don’t have every single tradeshow professional as a member yet, so there’s great upside potential for growth in the U.S.
But we’ve got a brand new international development committee. We’ve done something very different. [Recently installed IAEE Chairman] Skip Cox appointed about 20 people to this committee and over half of them are from outside the United States.
If you’re going to grow internationally, you don’t stack your international development committee with a bunch of U.S. folks, even though a lot of our U.S. folks are doing international meetings.
We’ve got representatives from countries like Taiwan, China, India, Europe, Mexico, Brazil. We want to hear from our members who are outside the United States on what we need to do to grow internationally.
EXPO: What is the greatest challenge the tradeshow industry faces this coming year?
DuBois: It’s the economy. Are we going to see some major cost slashing by the U.S. government, and other governments, that won’t allow attendance to grow at tradeshows?
Tradeshows aren’t going away, but attendance is growing at a low single-digit rate in most shows. The IAEE Expo! Expo! show is a great indicator of what’s happening out there.
Financially, we did very well. A 3-percent increase in attendance, a 16-percent increase in booth revenue and a 26-percent increase in sponsorships, so our sales team did a wonderful job.
In other words, a slight increase in attendance but great increases in booth revenue and sponsorships because companies are becoming more aggressive to sell and market.