Attendance numbers, demographics, qualified buyers, return on investment — it's the type of data that exhibitors want and it's what event organizers like Semicon are trying to provide through event audits.
“We have a handful of very engaged exhibitors who had been skeptical of the accuracy of our visitor data and were unconvinced thatindustry-accepted forms of validation were valid themselves,” says Gia Carunchio, senior director, global expositions at San Jose, Calif.-based Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), which runs Semicon West. So they hired BPA Worldwide, Shelton, Conn., to conduct an audit of the event and verify attendance numbers for exhibitors. “We were very pleased with the results because it was in line with the numbers that we had been reporting previously,” she says. As a next step, SEMI plans to use the audit report as a sales and marketing tool for next year's show, but more on that later.
What's an Audit?
What's an event audit? A review by an independent, certified auditor of registration data to confirm the number of event attendees. Audits have become more popular in the event industry since 2005 when the International Association of Exhibitions and Events created the Exhibition and Event Industry Audit Commission to certify event audits. Audits aren't mandatory but are recommended by IAEE to ensure accuracy and exhibitor confidence.
“In the last year or so, event audits have picked up because CMOs [chief marketing officers] are beginning to scrutinize where there money is going and what shows they exhibit at,” says Joseph Zuccerella, manager, events marketing at BPA, which did the audit for Semicon West.
Semicon event organizers used an audit tool called Event Insights, which was developed by BPA and Exhibit Services Inc. Event Insights combines an audit of attendance (based on registration information) with a survey of attendees. “The audit is the foundation that research and surveys are built upon because if you don't do some sort of survey on audited data, it's kind of like chasing ghosts,” says Zuccerella. The audit breaks attendance out by what they do and where they're from. The survey goes deeper, polling attendees on what products they're looking to buy, how soon they are looking to buy, how much time they spend on the show floor, satisfaction with the event, etc.
Semicon plans to use the audit as a sales and marketing tool, says Carunchio. “Accurate audience data is critical to any marketing and sales program. The more confident we can be about our audience, the better we can develop our marketing plans to build attendance,” she adds.
Organizers will send the report to exhibitors and prospects. That's the kind of data that they hope will entice current exhibitors to re-sign and prospects to take notice. “I see it as a tool that will help us gain additional exhibitors” and identify growth areas, says Carunchio.
Save the Date:
Jan. 13-16, 2008 PCMA Annual Meeting, Seattle www.pcma.org
Feb. 2-5, 2008 MPI Professional Education Conference-North America, Houston www.mpiweb.org
Feb. 5-8, 2008 RCMA Annual Conference, Orlando www.rcmaweb.org