Outlook 2013: What the Industry Sees

A lot can change in a year. From shows, webinars and social media strategies to budget projections, planning meetings and exhibitor outreach, each year presents a different set of challenges and opportunities. To help you better plan for the one ahead—2013—EXPO reaches out to some of the industry’s top executives and asked them to offer their analyses of the year ahead.


Jason McGraw
senior vice president of expositions, InfoComm International

As an organizer of 10 major tradeshows, dozens of special events and conferences worldwide, InfoComm International is optimistic about the prospects for live events in 2013. Some trends that we see emerging are in the areas of sustainability, 365-day-a-year engagement through technology, and the need for clear value propositions.

In the area of sustainability, we predict a shift toward exceeding all relevant legal environmental requirements through the minimization of waste by reducing, reusing and recycling, seeking responsible waste disposal, encouraging purchasing practices to lessen environmental impact, sourcing materials when possible from sustainable resources and developing relationships with suppliers to promote and improve environmental performance.

In our digital world, we predict more pronounced engagement between show organizers and attendees through apps, social media, mobile-friendly sites and more. There is increased recognition of the role of tablets and apps, whether it is for exhibitor engagement or keeping attendees up to date on room changes.
Social media is continuing to grow—not just as a forum for pushing out messages, but for getting inside the minds of attendees, helping them make connections and enhancing the overall event experience.

The jury has spoken on technology replacing live events: It simply is not going to happen. Technology can be a true networking facilitator, through matchmaking, blogs, LinkedIn groups and more, that all serve to make the attendee—particularly first-timers—feel more comfortable.

Finally, we predict that with continued belt-tightening, there will be a need to create specific materials aimed at explaining the value of the event to a potential attendee’s supervisor. InfoComm will be creating toolkits for our major events that make the case for participation.


Marian Bossard
vice president of meetings and events, Toy Industry Association

The toy industry is inherently optimistic. Those who make up this industry—the creative community, the manufacturers, the retailers and distributors—might get knocked down now and then, but they very rarely stay down. In order to prognosticate on our 2013 go-to-market events, we need to do so in stages and be specific to our stakeholders.

Let’s start with our ever-positive exhibitor base. Over the past few years, even with the economy so significantly challenged, we have maintained between 1,050 and 1,100 exhibitors. The average amount of space sold actually reached an all-time high in 2012. But here is the ultimate nod to the optimism of the toy industry: TIA continues to welcome more than 200 new companies each year and our exhibit space sales are pacing 8 percent ahead of the same date last year.

What about retail attendance? For the toy industry, the entire year is made in the fourth quarter. That’s why in November it is tricky, but interesting, to forecast our attendance numbers. We need Santa to be active and generous; then we add clearing out retail shelves to our wish list. If our wish comes true, Toy Fair, which is held less than two months later, has palpable energy.

If, however, holiday sales are sluggish, leaving retailers with excess inventory, Toy Fair following so shortly after can suffer. In line with the spirit of the season, we believe and are therefore projecting a 2-percent increase in domestic, and a 5- to 8-percent increase in international attendance. International participation at Toy Fair and the Fall Toy Preview remains strong with 6-percent and 9-percent increases, respectively.
Looking back is the best way to look forward and, by all accounts, the optimism the toy industry experiences year after year is the same optimism I feel about our 2013 market events.


Chris Brown
executive vice president for conventions and business operations, National Association of Broadcasters

There is reason to be optimistic about 2013 for the tradeshow industry, although there is also reason not to get too carried away. The 2012 CEIR Index Report includes a three-year forecast and the outlook for 2013 reflects continued overall growth for tradeshows. That growth is predicted to be modest (in the 1.5- to 3-percent range), essentially reflecting a continued slow-growth U.S. economic forecast. There will, of course be industries—and the shows that represent them—that will do better than the overall prediction, and others that will not do as well.

But—and this is a significant “but”—all things being equal, we should be OK in 2013.  All things being equal means that our domestic economy does not falter, slipping into negative territory that in turn would undoubtedly trigger rapid impact across the events business.  And I think we all know that our current economic condition is tenuous at best.

The best news is that tougher economic times, including the most recent recession, have reaffirmed the enormous value of face-to-face events. And what we have seen in the last couple of years is that companies are reinvesting at a healthy clip in our medium as a result. That should continue in 2013, as long as…assuming that… hoping that…we can count on “equal” (or better).


Randy Bauler
corporate relations and exhibits director, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

If there’s anything financial markets, exhibitors and show organizers hate, it’s uncertainty. With the 2012 elections now complete, some degree of uncertainty has been eliminated. However, a few hurdles remain: the stability of the European economy, whether the newly elected U.S. Congress will cooperate with the president and how well our elected leaders deal with issues surrounding the looming “fiscal cliff.” Health care and medical exhibitions and events are still dealing with federal health care reform: How will the new rules and regulations be interpreted and enforced, and what parts of the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) might be repealed and replaced? Will federal health care reform become the law of the land, or will individual states mandate more restrictive requirements?

Despite these uncertainties, health care and medical events will continue to experience modest growth in 2013. New technologies such as telemedicine and electronic medical and health care records will help drive innovation, growth and change. The aging baby-boomer generation and more insured patients will require increased care and more trained health care professionals to treat them.

Those health care exhibitions, events and professions that embrace change and the new realities will thrive. Those that resist change will stagnate.


Detlef Braun
executive board member, Messe Frankfurt

The global tradeshow market is in a state of flux, with different markets facing very different—and often difficult—challenges. From a global perspective, Europe has become a single market for tradeshows and exhibitions, with exhibitors focusing on the big, global shows for their industries and canceling appearances at smaller, regional shows, especially in economically challenged countries in southern Europe. In Asia, competition is and will remain stiff, with many players in the market.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, we are relieved to see that the market is recovering. We are by far the leading German tradeshow organizer here, with a strong portfolio of eight shows that includes Texworld USA, Texprocess, Apparel Sourcing Show or as examples, and we help American companies expand their global reach by guiding them to our shows, be it in Frankfurt or Asia. In 2012, Messe Frankfurt confirmed its commitment to the U.S. market by appointing a new management team under John Gallagher.

Tradeshows are the most important part of today’s marketing mix. According to recent statistics, they account for $4 out of every $10 spent by companies on marketing. The strong growth we have seen in digital spending in the past few years has not come from cutbacks in tradeshow investments, but we cannot take this for granted.

As an industry, we have to provide convincing answers to two critical challenges. First, we have to build ever better marketplaces, delivering leading, international shows for the global market. And we have to enhance the classic tradeshow format by adding digital tools and services that help our customers do better business.

At Messe Frankfurt, we are well prepared for these challenges. Group revenue will continue to grow in 2013, after passing 500 million euros for the first time in 2012. We are already the most international venue in Europe, yet international participation in the leading shows at our Frankfurt base is continuing to grow, and our strong portfolio of global trade show brands allows us to continuously expand in additional growth markets.