The Audit Bureau of Verification Services (ABVS), a subsidiary of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, last year launched a service providing independent audits of tradeshow attendance figures. Now ABVS's Expomark program is offering clients an ancillary service to verify the number of hotel room-nights used by attendees at particular exhibitions.

"As long as the event organizer includes questions in the attendee survey on how many rooms each attendee booked, and how many nights he or she spent at a hotel because of the show, we can confirm that data as part of our standard post-show confirmation process," says Joe Salomone, Expomark's manager of exhibition auditing.

This independent confirmation can be particularly useful to association event organizers who are having trouble proving their pick-up numbers at hotels because of attendees booking "outside of the block." An independent verification becomes a powerful piece of ammunition when negotiating with convention bureaus for citywide meetings, says Salomone.

Meanwhile, Expomark has audited more than 100 exhibition events since ABVS launched the program in March 1996 with the endorsement of the International Association for Exposition Management.

The largest event to be audited by ABVS has been the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, organized by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA). The event drew 95,725 conference and exhibit attendees, exhibitors, and press people to Las Vegas in January. The ABVS audit process includes on-site and post-show analysis.

"We try to provide reliable information to exhibitors, allowing them to determine which shows provide the greatest return on their investment," remarks Gary Shapiro, president of CEMA. "An independent audit by ABVS assures our members and exhibitors that we are accountable for our figures. And it allows our show to compete more effectively with other media for additional marketing dollars." --Regina McGee