The average attendee spends 8.3 hours and 2.3 days per event viewing exhibitions, according to new research on attendee preferences and characteristics conducted by Exhibit Surveys Inc. for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

In terms of time spent viewing exhibitions, results varied by sector. For example, the retail and high-tech sectors spent 10.5 and 9.2 hours respectively on the exhibit floor, per event, while the average attendee in the medical and healthcare sector spent just 6.5 hours per event.

The study, based on 2007 survey data, also found that 82 percent of exhibition attendees were influential in making the decision to buy the exhibited products. Of that 82 percent, 39 percent have final say in the purchase decision, while 51 percent recommend purchase of exhibited products, and 26 percent specify products. (These are net values taking into account multiple responses.) Further, the survey data found that 77 percent of qualified attendees represent a new prospect for exhibiting companies.

The study also looked at how full or busy exhibit floors are. It found that the average traffic density per 100 square feet of space is 2.3 people. The formula is calculated by factoring in net attendance, average hours spent on the exhibit floor, net square feet of space, and total exhibit hours. High-tech had the highest traffic density (3.2 people), while medical/healthcare had the lowest (1.8 people).

Another fact the research revealed relates to how far people travel to attend shows. On average, 54 percent travel more than 400 miles, while 31 percent travel between 200 and 400 miles. About 35 percent come from surrounding states. Finally, about one-third of an event’s attendees are first-timers. Another one-third attend only one exhibition per year, while the other 65 percent attend more than one.

The data from this study was obtained by polling attendees at 55 exhibitions, ranging in size from 1,000 to 15,000 attendees. Read more about the research at www.ceir.org.