Outboarding, the practice of holding concurrent events not sanctioned by the official convention organizer, but that seek to garner the main event’s audience, has gotten an official thumbs down from the International Association for Exhibition Management. In a press release, IAEM President Steven Hacker, CAE, attributes ignorance, not intent to harm, to many who engage in outboarding: “Those who do not carefully consider the ethics of outboarding might easily jump to a conclusion that says, ‘Why not take advantage of the assembly of a group of customers or prospects without realizing that it is not theirs to take?’” To help them more fully understand the issues involved, the association issued this official policy:

Outboarding is defined by the International Association for Exhibition Management as the creation of a concurrent event that is related to an existing exhibition or event but that is not sanctioned by the organizer and that seeks to benefit from the audience the organizer attracts.

IAEM considers outboarding to be unethical business conduct and should not be condoned nor tolerated.

Exhibition and event sponsors invest significant financial and other precious resources in the planning and execution of their events. Their financial resources are at risk, as are the business reputation and good will that are vital elements of a sponsor's business success.

The predictable and inevitable consequences of outboarding diminish the size and diffuse the quality of the audience that event sponsors work very hard to gather. Outboarding reduces the value of an event for exhibitors and sponsors who likewise have significant resources invested in the event.

IAEM further believes that abundant opportunities exist through sanctioned means for those who wish to conduct their own marketing and/or selling events to do so in cooperation and coordination with the sponsoring organizers of exhibitions and similar events.