The International Association for Exhibition Management's plan to broaden its membership beyond its traditional exhibition managers became official as the membership voted to change the name to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events at the Expo! Expo! annual meeting, held at the San Diego Convention Center November 28 to 30.

“Some big companies are moving out of conventional shows, but not out of events,” said IAEE 2006 chairman Sandy Angus. “There is no doubt that events are where it's at.” IAEE leadership said the new name better reflects the group's strategic plan to broaden the scope of the organization to include all aspects of the exhibition industry, in particular the growing corporate exhibitions and events area. The name change, which was raised and tabled at the 2005 convention because of procedural issues, went through without a hitch at the 2006 meeting, with 79 percent of voters approving the change.

While attendance at its Expo! Expo! annual meeting didn't double, as the association's membership did in 2006, IAEE's president, Steven Hacker, CAE, said at a press conference that approximately 2,000 people came to the event in 2006, up from the previous year's 1,926. Hacker attributes the increase in attendance, like the increase in membership, to the organization's change in structure from a professional to a trade association. The change means a company, rather than an individual, pays membership dues and can allow as many staff as it chooses to be members. The exhibition also grew, with 37,700 net square feet at this year's show.

IAEE also is moving forward with plans to continue globalizing its membership. Angus said, “The more we get involved [in other countries], the more we will be able to influence what happens elsewhere. The Chinese in particular want to embrace Americans.” Hacker noted that the Third Edition of the Art of the Show textbook has been issued in Mandarin as well as English.

Edward Liu, managing director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd. in Singapore, was honored at the opening general session as the recipient of the 2006 Chairman's Award. Liu has worked hard to help IAEE open offices in Singapore and China.

According to Hacker, the international push will continue. “We have a Certified Exhibition Manager program under way in Mexico. After China, Mexico is likely to be [the next place we visit].” Jeff Price, president, Cygnus Expositions, Burnsville, Minn., and 2007 chairman of IAEE, also said during the business meeting that he will continue the focus on expanding the CEM Learning Program.

Hacker also said, “We've been working feverishly to stop the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative — which, when fully implemented, will require all travelers to the U.S. from Mexico, along with the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, and Canada, to present passports by June 1, 2009 — from disrupting travel.”

Showing Them the Money

Doug Ducate, president of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, which merged with the organization earlier last year, announced at the conference that the World Shoe Association has provided a $1 million grant to CEIR. “After 28 years, we finally have a solid financial base from which to operate,” he said at the press conference. However, he said the organization doesn't intend to rest on its now-more-lucrative laurels: “We hope it will be followed by others that will allow us to do even more research.” A committee has been formed to recommend the best way to manage the new influx of cash.

Craig Nauta, CEIR's managing director, also had some good financial news to report at the meeting: The Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Orange County Convention Center's plan to donate $50,000 to IAEE's Exhibition Industry Foundation. The funds will be used to produce a new video series aimed at helping exhibitors to maximize their trade show experience. Nauta said the evolution of the foundation, formed as a result of CEIR's merger with the association, “will be to support education, research projects, and promotional efforts.”

ROI Tools Coming Soon

IAEE also has been hard at work developing a set of tools exhibition managers can use to show exhibitors how they can maximize the impact of a show on their business. Developed by the association's Task Force for ROI Resource Development and the Exhibition and Event Industry Audit Commission, the tools are designed to enable exhibitors to calculate a return on investment for their trade show dollars. At a session led by Skip Cox, president, Exhibit Surveys Inc., and John Mikstay, manager events audit, BPA Worldwide, attendees were walked through the process, which includes an attendance audit and a survey of attendees to gather data with which to make the calculations.

“The size and value of the audience is the key quantifiable factor in the decision to exhibit at a show,” said Cox, emphasizing the importance of attendee auditing to ensuring that event marketing spend is linked to the actual business impact of exhibiting.

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