E-Commerce Headlines at IAEM People come to meetings "hungry for new ideas, new ways to understand a world that is going haywire," remarked keynote speaker William Taylor, co-founder and editor of Fast Company magazine, at the annual meeting of the International Association for Exposition Management held November 30 to December 3 in Miami Beach, Fla. The meeting drew a record attendance of more than 2,640 registrants, including 447 who registered via the Internet, another record.
Taylor said that in an age of "over-capacity" in virtually every area of life, "average is a good formula for going out of business." He pointed repeatedly to Dell Computers as the flagship company in the new economy, where phenomenal success has to be built around the customer experience--the only way to break through today's pervasive market saturation.
We are living through a "profound reinvention of work," Taylor said. "People have higher expectations about work now than ever before." And we are living in the era of e-commerce. "The Web reshapes everything it touches and it touches almost everything," he said.
E-commerce was a strong theme at the conference. IAEM endorsed the ExpoExchange Internet system as its official e-commerce product. Produced by Third Millennium Communications, ExpoExchange provides online registration, an exhibitor directory, a dynamic floor plan, a conference schedule, as well as a sophisticated business-to-business e-commerce capability.
In a packed session where many had to be turned away, Kevin McDermott, a columnist for this magazine and a consultant who heads up Major Scale Technology Management, Inc., outlined how to develop an e-business strategy for trade shows. Beyond automating operations (booth assignments and payments, speaker confirmations, registration, etc.), the real opportunity with e-business is creating new products and services, such as allowing exhibitors to sell product via the show manager's Web site, creating job boards, and request for proposal services.
Doug Ducate, president of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, said in a session ontrends that the industry is likely to grow by at least 7 percent annually in the next couple of years. He also predicted that vertical shows would continue to increase as a percentage of the marketplace, that the buyer's market in exhibit space will be joined by one in the hotel market as well in the next year or so, and that virtual trade shows in general encourage trade show growth.
But he pointed to several areas of concern for the future: among them the growing number of shows owned by investment companies, which may or may not have long-term interests. Also, should the economy take a significant downturn, the time- and money-saving advantages of virtual trade shows may end up eroding the growth of physical events. "It would be in our interest as an industry if Congress does impose an Internet sales tax," he said.
IAEM's first-ever Global Matchmaking Summit, held the two days before the annual meeting, drew show organizers and various suppliers from around the world who met to discuss potential alliances. The event was deemed a huge success, attracting more than 200 participants, and it will be held again next year, November 26 to 28, before IAEM's annual event in San Diego.