Why You Should Care About International

At the IAEE Annual Meeting last December in New Orleans, the organization chose to put international front and center. While those who work in the international field (like me) applauded this, many others at the convention were grumbling about the focus.

It got me thinking about why U.S.-based association or tradeshow organizers should care about the global aspect of their show, especially if it’s nationally focused. Here are a few reasons:

1. We live in a global marketplace. Unlike outer space (until proven otherwise), we are not alone! Look at the labels on your clothes. Where are they made? How about fruit or vegetables in the supermarket off-season? Yep, they come from another part of the planet. So what happens in Mexico, Dubai or China CAN affect your life…and work…and show.

2. Many industries in the U.S. are maturing. It’s the cyclic nature of development! If your industry is maturing, where are you going to find new exhibitors and visitors without losing the primary focus of the show and/or association? Yep, internationally.

3. Although I truly believe the U.S. is by nature quite inventive, not all new breakthroughs in technology or other areas are developed here. If you want to stay on the leading edge in your business, it’s imperative to look at what’s happening elsewhere.

4. The U.S. is a melting pot of cultures, languages, histories and diversity. How many U.S.-based people in your organization or who attend your show were born elsewhere? What do their perspectives bring to the table? Do you take advantage of it?

5. European show organizers are salivating to enter the U.S. Market. The bull’s-eye is on association shows in sectors where these organizers already produce shows. “Messe who?” If you’re not paying attention to your sector internationally, there will be a new player, who doesn’t play well with others, taking the home field advantage.

On another note, one fabulous thing that’s happened this week is IAEE President Steven Hacker’s blog post about a task force for the organization that is finally looking at adding cubic content rules and regulations to their draconian display guidelines.


Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter @stephselesnick.  ... View all articles by Stephanie Selesnick →